HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO HIM!
My men are a motley crew; Simon has no sweet tooth and sticks to the basics, the bare minimum : simple streusel-topped coffee cake, the simplest, moist but least dense chocolate cake, chocolate chip cookies. Clem goes wild for the creamiest, densest, gooiest concoctions : his own fabulous Tiramisu, creams and puddings, the richest, most chocolaty cakes with rich, dark, gooey frostings, everything slathered in whipped cream. JP is a fruit man : he loves most everything I bake, and he does have a weakness for perfect Panna Cotta, but if given the choice, he always chooses something baked with seasonal fruit, whether cake, tart, crumble or turnover.
Approaching his birthday, he once again begged me, beseeched me, implored me to cool it on the treats, the snacks, the cakes and breads. Too much is too much. He points to the goodies wrapped in foil piling up on countertops and to his expanding waistline (or so he feels).
But what, pray tell, is a birthday without a cake? If it were up to him, his birthday would just slide by unnoticed, no cake, no presents, no reminders. He does remember mine and always does something wonderful, dinner out, beautiful, thoughtful gifts. But this man truly needs saving from his own anti-holiday, anti-celebration sentiments.
Lucky he has me. I love birthdays, love buying gifts, love baking each one’s favorites, love surprises. Without me, who would bring the goofiness into the house, who would bring the party to the birthday, who would give everything that personal touch, the love and the fun? This man truly needs me to shake it all up!
So what to do for his birthday? He was out of town all day, so no surprise interruptions with him popping in for lunch in the middle of the baking. And no chocolate cake for him, no layers filled with cream, but something just for him.
Happy Birthday, JP!
APPLE SPICE CAKE for his birthday
Adapted from my brand-spanking new Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground allspice (quatres épices)
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar (I used light)
1 cup vegetable or other cooking oil
½ cup smooth applesauce, natural or sugar-free if possible
1 Tbs vanilla
3 cups peeled, cored, chopped apples (3 – 5 apples, depending on size) : I used Golden
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted (optional)
Allow the eggs to stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes, the time to prepare the apples and measure out the other ingredients.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease (oil) and lightly flour a 10-inch tube pan.
In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and allspice. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, granulated sugar, packed brown sugar, oil, applesauce and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes.
Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and beat on low speed just until combined, scraping down the sides as you go. The batter will be thick.
Fold in the chopped apples and the chopped pecans (if using) until evenly distributed.
Spoon batter into the prepared pan and spread so it is even and smooth.
Bake for about 1 hour or until set; a tester inserted near the center comes out clean.
Cool cake in pan on wire cooling rack for 10 minutes, then lift out the cake on the center tube. Turn out onto the cooling rack.
Just before serving, dust with powdered sugar. Store, covered, in the refrigerator.
Result : This is one fabulous cake! Feathery light, yet so moist and amazingly flavorful. Each beautiful mouthful is filled with cinnamon and apple, accentuated by the chunks of fresh apple that melt in the mouth. I have never fallen so in love with a non-chocolate cake before this. Highly recommended.
I also do not miss the crunch of pecans in this one; the texture is too smooth and light to be weighed down by walnuts. Just the delicate chunks of apples is enough.
His only complaint? Not enough apples!
Serve with freshly whipped cream or ice cream to really complete this luscious cake.