Friday, October 2, 2015

The Wedding Cake

by Sheila Connolly

Meg Corey and Seth Chapin are getting married in A Gala Event, the next book in the Orchard Mysteries, coming out next week. Some readers might add “finally!” Hey, it’s only taken them nine books to get there. I’m afraid to count how many bodies they came across along the way.

Those of you with eagle eyes and long memories may recognize this recipe, which I posted here two years ago (and it’s the one that appears in the book—but you saw it here first!). It’s so appropriate for these two people—one who raises apples, and one who cherishes historic buildings. It’s an old recipe made with apple cider—how could I improve on that?

But I thought I’d try making cider from my own apples for the occasion. Nice idea, right? I have one tree that has succumbed to fire blight after a year-long struggle, but it made a valiant effort to produce apples this year, and I have picked most of them. Perfect, I say—I will use these apples!

Well, yes and no. This variety—Esopus Spitzenburg, one of Thomas Jefferson’s favorites—produces fairly dry apples under the best of circumstances, although with nice flavor, and this has been a dry year. I took half a bushel of apples (all that one variety!) and stuck them into my tiny but authentic antique hand-crank cider press, and…out of that half bushel I produced less than one cup of cider. Not even enough for this recipe. But it’s the thought that counts, right? It did taste good. I added some organic local cider to make up the full amount.

My cider--I have much more respect for
cider makers now!
And since you’re getting a reprise of this recipe, I’ll throw in a recipe for maple cream cheese frosting to go with it (I’m addicted to the stuff). It’s a wedding cake, isn’t it? There must be frosting!

Apple Cider Cake

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2 pounds flour (about 6 cups)
1 pound sugar (about 2 cups)
1 Tblsp baking powder
1-2 tsp of cinnamon
1/2 tsp of cloves (or more if you like)
1/2 pound of butter, softened
2 cups cider 
(fresh and local if you have it)

In a large bowl (the one for a stand mixer works), place the dry ingredients and blend them together. Add the soft butter and mix on medium speed until it’s evenly distributed (mixture will be crumbly).

Add the cider  and mix until you have a stiff batter.

Butter and flour a 9” x 13” baking pan (since this is a wedding cake, I made two round cakes instead). Spoon the batter into the pan and smooth out the top. Place in the preheated oven and bake until the top is lightly browned and the edges begin to pull away from the pan—probably around an hour (but start testing early—if you overcook the cake it gets dry). Cool in the pan.

When fully cool, remove from the pan(s) and frost with…

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room 
2 8-oz. pkgs cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup maple syrup (use the good stuff! I may have gone overboard when I used an artisanal, varietal maple syrup I bought in Vermont, but it tastes really good!)
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar (more if needed)

Cream together the butter and the cream cheese. Add the maple syrup and vanilla and mix. Add the confectioner’s sugar and blend until smooth. If the mixture is still too soupy to spread, add more sugar, bit by bit, until you reach the consistency you want.


Only one main ingredient: marzipan or fondant (which is harder to find). Roll it out thin and cut it into shapes of your choice (of course I have apple cookie cutters!), or mold them any way you like. To color your decorations, you may either paint them with a brush, using food coloring, or make up a solution of food coloring and dip them in whole. Let them dry before applying to the cake.

And next week you can join Meg and Seth as they get married in front of most of the population of Granford!

A Gala Event, coming October 6th! Yes, that's next week!

In case you haven't seen this before, here's what it's about:

Wedding bells are ringing for Meg and Seth in the latest Orchard Mystery

The fall harvest may be just about over, but orchard owner Meg Corey is busier than ever planning her wedding to Seth Chapin. Who knew picking apples would be less work than picking out rings and a dress? And even though the happy couple has invited most of Granford, Massachusetts, to the ceremony, they might have to make room for one more guest…

Ex-con Aaron Eastman has unexpectedly reappeared in his hometown, searching for answers to the tragic fire in his family’s past that put him behind bars twenty-five years ago. Moved by his sincerity, Meg vows to do everything she can to help him solve the cold case. As she cobbles together the clues, it becomes increasingly clear that Aaron may have been considered the bad seed of the family, but someone else was one bad apple…

Available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and in a whole lot of bookstores (I hope!)


  1. Sheila, I'd just added apple cider to my grocery list when I saw it was on sale this week. Plan to try Ina Garten's Butternut Squash and Apple Soup and now I have another use for the cider when I make your lovely wedding cake! Thanks for the reminder of the recipe and book release. Can't wait to read it! Really do appreciate all the hard work the MLKers do for us besides entertain with your books. The recipes along with blog stories, whether mishaps or sucesses, tips and photos are fabulous! xo

    1. Thank you! It seems fair to tell you when something doesn't work, but we do have fun trying things.

  2. Lynn, you're so sweet! We really enjoy writing this blog and it's a bonus that you enjoy reading:).

    Sheila, the cake is lovely. Congrats to the happy couple!

  3. This sounds so good and so perfect for fall.

    And, I'm so glad that Meg and Seth will finally be wed.

  4. I agree with Lynn. I read this blog most days. Thank you Lynn for reminding us to say how much we enjoy it.

  5. So yummy, thanks! I think I might try it with just some powdered sugar dusted on top. Thanks so much for sharing! :-)

    1. That works too. I just wanted to dress it up for the wedding.

    2. It's beautiful, and I could eat that frosting by the cup I'm sure - lol!!!

  6. Hear, hear! I totally agree with Lynn.
    You ladies are da bomb!
    And this cake sounds wonderful.

  7. The oddest thing is, our two orange cats really like the frosting! I have never seen them eat anything sweet, or even butter alone, but they've both gone mad for this one. I have no idea what that means, but it's one more vote.

  8. I live this series and cannot wait to get my paperback next week. Living in MA makes this book extra specual
    Congratulations, Sheila.

  9. I live this series and cannot wait to get my paperback next week. Living in MA makes this book extra specual
    Congratulations, Sheila.