Several years ago, while my mother was still alive, she was helping me gather family recipes for my cookbook. Among the recipes that she gave me was my grandmother’s apple cake. As it happens, she had sent the recipe to me about 30 years prior, but I’d never made the cake. It was nice to “re-find” it together.
My mother told me that years ago my grandmother enjoyed making cakes and as the holidays drew near she would make cakes in advance and put them in a cool dark place to preserve them until it was time to serve them for the holidays.
I loved hearing about the old food ways from my mother, and I really enjoyed making the cake and thinking about my grandmother and mother and what it used to be like back then.
The apple cake is moist and delicious on its own but I like to make a little caramel icing to top it off.
This is also one of those cakes that is better the second day. The moisture from the apples seeps into the cake and gives it a better flavor and texture. The caramel icing makes it taste like an apple on a stick but better.
This is a good fall cake because it keeps well for several days, and a great dessert to take to a tailgating event. Enjoy.
3 cups peeled, finely diced apples
1 cup chopped, toasted pecans
2 cups sugar
3 cups self-rising flour
1 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat the oven to 350º
Place everything in a large mixing bowl with paddle attachment, and beat until creamy. Pour into a greased and floured 10-inch Bundt or angel food cake pan, and bake for 45 minutes* to an hour or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then turn out onto a tea towel or baking rack until cool.
*I baked this cake when I lived in Greenville with an electric oven, and I’ve baked it in Charleston with an electric and gas oven. The ovens took different times to cook. The gas stove takes less time than the electric. The cooking time depends on the climate and the oven. So, just do what I do and watch your cooking time, especially after 45 minutes.
Caramel Icing for Apple Cake
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons milk
½ cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium low heat. Add the brown sugar and let it melt, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Remove from the heat. Add the milk and stir to blend. Return to the heat until the mixture begins to bubble at the edges. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, for 2 minutes.
It should be barely bubbling. Remove from the heat and cool to lukewarm. Add the confectioners sugar and beat until smooth. Put the warm icing over the top of the cake.
By Justin Hancock, Costa Farms Horticulturist,
Photographs courtesy of Costa Farms
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