Saturday, March 28, 2009



What, pray tell, would he do without me? We have saved each other from the risk of boring...

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 ├ępices)
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar (I used light)
2 eggs
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.

This is the size I chopped my apples

Oops! Time to buy a new apple corer, I guess!

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.

Sadly, we are a nut-free family as you know by now, so only apples get folded in

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.


girlichef said...

Hi Jamie...thanks for stopping by my blog and for your kind words. Let me say how much I love a plain cake once in a while! Love your blog :)

asiangrrl said...

Nom nom nom. Ok, eating through the monitor doesn't work. That cake looks simply divine. Heh. This is another way in which your hubby and I are alike--birthdays? Who needs 'em? My parents call me every birthday to ask how I celebrated. My answer always is,"I didn't."

Anyway, I would eat this cake any day! Another home run for you.

Anonymous said...

ciao Jamie i love your blog and i love the receipies,they are always i nice surprise x me.i think you are a great cooker . iam italian, i have lived in Boston and in Paris . actually i live near lake Maggiore ,no far from Milano. bye take care ! Marilla

Sophie said...

This apple cake looks so delicious!!

Elra said...

Wow Jamie, this sounds like a great cake. I love all sorts of cake that has fruit, especially apple.

Happy birthday to JP, may he has many many more years to come.

Thanks for visiting my blog, do come again.

Culinary Wannabe said...

What a nice compromise - still have cake, but with fruit! So thoughtful!

Chef E said...

Sometimes i just want a piece of angel food cake, which is about as plain as I can think of...yours is absolutely beautiful out of that pan!

Cut me a slice please...

Muneeba said...

My first time on your blog Jamie ... I'm totally loving how you start each post off with a fantastic black-n-white pic .. really creative! Thks for dropping by my blog too :) I think we'll be chatting a lot more now!

squirrelbread said...

you're killing me with these cakes!!



English Mum said...

Happy birthday JP! That cake looks gorgeous - and I'm with you on the nuts, it's fab without them x

Amy Jones said...

Wow - your food photography is as good as the recipes. Just wonderful!

I really like the look of this cake - and it looks as though it might even be good for me. yummmmm....

Visiting from Mudflats - WfAK


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