Showing posts with label apple cake. Show all posts
Showing posts with label apple cake. Show all posts

Friday, September 8, 2017

Harvest Time Again

My apples are almost all ripe. I planted the first tree--a Northern Spy that I call Nathan, after Nathan Hale--in 2007, and seven trees after that. Two, sadly, have passed away, but the others have gone crazy this year, including Nathan. 

Last year I had a crop of two apples. Not two bushels or two baskets or even two bowls, but two. Period. There was a late frost last year (oh, look, a book plug!) which took out all the blossoms at once. This year has been a polar opposite, with enough sun and warmth and rain to produce a great crop. Even Nathan has cooperated, which is worth noting since the Northern Spy variety is usually late to bloom and late to ripen.

Hudson's Golden Gem -- small, crisp and sweet
(and a squirrel favorite!)

In past years I have featured a wide range of apple recipes on Mystery Lovers' Kitchen, and my creative colleagues here have added more. Sweet and savory. Slaws and slumps, buckles and grunts, crumbles and crisps--they've found their way here. So it's always a challenge to come up with a new one, but I keep collecting cookbooks. Apples have been around in this country from the beginning, so there are plenty of choices for recipes, both old and new.

This harvest offering comes from a recipe in the delightful Brass Sisters' Heirloom Cooking cookbook. Of course, the first problem I encountered with it was the choice of apples: the sisters recommended Granny Smiths. Now, there's nothing wrong with a Granny Smith apple. They're hardy, dependable, keep well, and are good in cakes and pies and such because they hold their shape in cooking. But they're boring. I don't have any in my mini-orchard, because I'm having fun trying old New England varieties, that you'll never see in a store, only at the rare farm stand on a country road in the fall. Many of them don't hold well, don't travel well, and the trees produce for a short time only. So to taste them you have to be in the right place at the right time.

Well, my mini-orchard is the right place, but I didn't have enough of any single variety that were ripe enough to use in this dish, so I used whatever looked good. It won't hurt your pie or cake. In fact, you kind of cover your bases by using multiple varieties, with different textures and flavors and varying amounts of sweetness. I have a couple of Northern Spies in this, and some Hudson's Golden Gems, and a few Cortlands, and what I think is a Newtown Pippin or two. They taste fine together.

Dorset Apple Cake (with a nod to the Brass Sisters)


3-1/2 cups peeled, cored and 
Chopped apples

   diced apples (half-inch dice)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup golden raisins
grated zest of one lemon

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon (or more!)

1/2 cup ( 1 stick) cold butter, cut into dice

1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 eggs, beaten

2 Tblsp Demerara (coarse) sugar


Set the oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. 
Butter (or grease) a 9" square baking pan.

Toss the apples, sugar, raisins and lemon zest in a bowl.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon into a large bowl. Work in the butter by hand.



Mix the vanilla and the cream, then add it to the batter and mix (do not overmix!) Add the beaten eggs, half at a time. The mixture will be stiff.

Fold in the apple mixture with a large spatula.

Place the dough in the pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle the coarse sugar over the top.

Ready for the oven

Bake about 40 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Leaving the cake in the pan, place on a rack to cool.


Best served warm or at room temperature, maybe with a dab of whipped cream.

By the way, I don't mind sharing my apple crop.

A Late Frost, coming in November from Berkley.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

One Bowl Apple Cake #Recipe @PegCochran

You know you shouldn't believe everything you read on the Internet, right? That was my first reaction to this recipe posted on someone's timeline--an apple cake made all in one bowl.  If you're used to making cakes, you'll automatically be changing this recipe in your mind to conform with the technique you normally use to make a cake.  But!  This does work and it was delicious.  I would serve it for company with a swirl of lightly sweetened whipped cream or, if it's warm from the oven, with a scoop of good vanilla ice cream.

Actually it takes two bowls, but it's still super easy to whip up.  It's not too sweet and has plenty of fruit in it.  Hubby gave it the thumbs up--although he only had one piece.  He's still recovering from the package of pumpkin spice Oreos he ate all in one night save for three cookies which I managed to snare.  I fully expect him to come back for another piece in an hour or so.

Without further ado, here is the recipe!

2 eggs
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup oil
2 tsps. cinnamon
6 medium Gala or Honey Crisp apples, peeled, cored and sliced
2 cups flour
2 tsps. baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, mix eggs, sugar, cinnamon and oil.

As you peel, core and slice your apples, add them to the mixture in the bowl and toss to cover so they don't turn brown.

Mix baking soda and flour (here's where you kind of need that other bowl).  Add to apple mixture and stir well.

Stir (a fork works well) until well mixed.

Pour into a greased 9x13 pan or two round 9 inch pans

Bake approximately 55 minutes until golden brown.  (Note: my oven runs hot and it only took around 37 minutes so check often!)

Enjoy! Bon Appetit!

Speaking of fruit...Berried Secrets, set on a cranberry bog in Cranberry Cove, Michigan is out now!

Available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

AND Berry the Hatchet coming in May 2016! Available for pre-order now at 

I'm on Facebook and you can sign up for my newsletter (with advance news of 
contests and giveaways) on my web site.

If you like my Cranberry Cove series you might like my others including the 
Farmer's Daughter series coming in 2016--stay tuned for the cover reveal!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

A Real-life Spice Merchant talks about The Secret Ingredient

Ras el hanout

A note from Leslie: Many of you know  I've been haunting Seattle's Pike Place Market for years, first as a college student and young lawyer living in Seattle, and now as an occasional visitor from Montana. A few years ago, I discovered World Spice Merchants on Western Avenue, just below the Market, a shop as full of discovery as the Spice Islands and other distant lands were to the European sailors in the Age of Exploration. 

So when ASSAULT & PEPPER, the first book in my Seattle Spice Shop Mysteries, came out last March, I sent a signed copy to Amanda Bevill, owner of World Spice Merchants.

Imagine the stunned look on my face when a lovely woman I didn't know came to my book launch party---in an art gallery in Montana---and introduced herself as Amanda. Turns out she and her husband divide their time between Seattle and NW Montana. I inscribed her copy of my book, and she gave me a signed copy of her cookbook, WORLD SPICE AT HOME.  

And thus began a friendship built on spice. Amanda joins us today with a tasty recipe that shows off the blends that make her shop such a magical place.  

The Secret Ingredient

By Amanda Bevill

We all love a good mystery, and it's doubly true in the case of the secret ingredient: plainly there for us to taste but elusively masked within the dish. Spice merchants know this, and are always sniffing out new flavors to dazzle the palate. A deft hand with spices will always leave your guests delighted, and wondering, "What is that???"

Chinese Five Spice
But you don’t have to be a spice merchant, or a master chef, to add these legendary flavors to your everyday cooking- it can be quick and easy. Often you don’t even have to learn a new recipe. This family favorite was one of the first that I adapted to experiment with the amazing world of spices.

This simple apple cake was created by my great-grandmother and cooked on a wood stove over 100 years ago, and I’m happy to still be cooking it today. The original recipe called for cinnamon, and now I make it with either Chinese Five Spice or Ras el Hanout. Both of these blends contain classic baking spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, but combined with other spices the flavors are enhanced. The result is a pleasing flavor that is more than you would get with cinnamon alone, and your guests will never guess the secret ingredient. This recipe is timeless, rustic and highlights the flavors of both the apples and the spice.

Great Grandmother Carter’s Apple Cake

1 cup vegetable oil or melted coconut oil
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons ground Chinese Five Spice or Ras el Hanout
3 cups chopped apples
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease a 9”x13” pan.

In a large bowl, mix the eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and mix together.

Fold in apples and nuts.

Bake 45 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

So, the next time you want to try something new, or add a twist to a classic, open up your spice cabinet and follow your nose. If you like the way it smells, you’ll love the way it tastes!

Amanda Bevill is the owner of World Spice Merchants, an artisan spice shop in Seattle, Washington, and the co-author of World Spice at Home, New Flavors for 75 Different Dishes. Visit the shop on Western Avenue below Pike Place Market, or online.  

Monday, September 1, 2014

Caramel Apple Bundt Cake for Book Clubs

Welcome to all our readers who belong to book clubs! While I agree with Victoria Abbott about chocolate, both MURDER, SHE BARKED, and THE GHOST AND MRS. MEWER take place in the fall, so apple cake seemed appropriate. In the books, Holly Miller is taking up her grandmother's offer to become a partner in the Sugar Maple Inn on Wagtail Mountain.

The inn serves breakfast, lunch, and afternoon tea, so there are always wonderful goodies available. If your book club is meeting for dinner, you might want to try Oma's Hungarian Goulash, which you can prepare in advance. But I would guess most book clubs really just need some coffee or wine and a delicious cake. This is the kind of thing that would be served at afternoon tea at the Sugar Maple Inn.

I was inspired when I saw a recipe for an apple cake with caramel on top. We have gobbled this up – just can't get enough of it. The cake is packed with applesauce and grated apples, which make it very moist and the overly sweet caramel on top is irresistible.

Two tips for making this cake. First, when you add the grated apples to the batter, take a minute to rinse off all the parts of your food processor. It will make cleanup so much easier!

Second, use sugar instead of flour to prevent the cake from sticking to your bundt pan. I just read about this and did a quick Internet search to be sure I was doing it correctly. There's nothing to it. Be sure to butter your pan very well, then just sprinkle sugar on it, much like you would flour. The key is to do it just before adding the batter so that the sugar doesn't start to melt. I have never had a bundt cake turn out so easily and perfectly before. Plus, it adds a little sugar to the cake. You'll notice that I removed one tablespoon of sugar from the recipe, just so the cake won't be overly sweet. Then I added one more tablespoon to get full greasing coverage on the pan.

All you need now is a good book, good friends, and a great cup of coffee.

Caramel Apple Bundt Cake


1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup pecans
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) butter at room temperature + extra for greasing the pan
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar + extra
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 cup applesauce
2 medium apples, peeled and cored

Place flour, pecans, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt in a food processor and pulse until the pecans are fine. Transfer the flour mixture to a bowl. Insert the grating disk and grate the apples.

Preheat oven to 350.

Take 1 tablespoon of sugar out of the plain sugar and set it aside. Cream the butter with the sugars. Beat in the eggs. Alternate adding applesauce and the flour mixture until completely combined. Stir in the grated apples.

Grease the bundt pan liberally. Sprinkle the extra sugar on the butter. You may need another tablespoon of sugar for full coverage. Use a cooking spoon to ladle the batter into the bundt pan and smooth the top. Bake 40 minutes or until it begins to pull away from the sides and a cake tester comes out clean.

Allow to rest on a baking rack about 5-10 minutes. Loosen the edges, and flip onto the rack. When cool, top with caramel.


4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 heavy cream

Place the ingredients in a deep microwave safe dish (I used a 4 cup Pyrex measuring cup). Microwave in short bursts, stirring occasionally, until it bubbles up and the sugar melts. (You may find that you even like it if the sugar doesn't melt!)

Pulse pecans with the flour and spices.

Sugar the pan instead of using flour!

Spoon in the thick batter.

Before adding caramel.

So moist!

Coming December 2nd

Where it all started . . .

In honor of Book Club Week, I'm giving away a Mystery Lovers' Kitchen tote bag to one lucky person who leaves a comment on this post before midnight September 3rd. Good luck, everyone!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Cider Cake

by Sheila Connolly

I know, I just gave you an apple cake recipe (and Cleo Coyle provided another intriguing apple recipe this week), but this is the week Golden Malicious was released (the seventh of the Orchard Mysteries), so it just seems wrong to talk about fish or vegetables.  Plus this is a different cake.

I’m also celebrating my first successful cider-making effort. In pursuit of all things apple, last year I acquired a small antique cider press.  Before you start imagining a room full of equipment, this one is table-top size (and also doubles as a sausage maker and lard press, but I don’t think I’m trying those functions) and has a container that holds maybe two quarts of material to be pressed.

I confess I tried this last year, but I made a fatal mistake:  I thought it would be all right if I just put the whole apples in the press and started cranking.  After a lot of apples, I ended up with one-half cup of cider. That was the end of the experiment for the year.

But this year I talked to a couple of people who know what they’re doing, and they said, grind or chop up the apples before pressing.  Duh.  So I used my antique hand-cranked grinder and made a huge pile of apple mush (scattering bits of apple all over the room along the way).  Then I put batches of that mush into the press and voila!  Cider!  I pressed a half-bushel of apples (a mix of four newly-harvested and very fresh varieties) and ended up with two quarts of cider—which is delicious, I must say.
This is a half bushel of apples
Therefore I am using a portion of my harvest to this recipe for cider cake topped with some lovely cider buttercream frosting.  Enjoy!

Cider Spice Cake

½ cup unsalted butter, softened

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

¾ tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp nutmeg

¼ tsp ground cloves

½ tsp salt

2/3 cup apple cider (note: for both the cake and the frosting you should use unpasteurized cider)

1 cup packed light brown sugar

3 large eggs at room temperature

Put the oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour two round cake pans.

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a bowl.

With an electric mixer, beat the butter until it is light and fluffy, then add the brown sugar and beat until combined.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each (this will look curdled, but don’t worry).

Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture and the cider alternately, beginning and ending with flour.

Divide the batter between two pans (rap on the counter once to release any big bubbles). The layers will be thin.

Bake in the preheated oven until the layers begin to pull away from the sides of the pans and a skewer or toothpick comes out clean, 25-30 minutes.

Cool in the pans on racks for 5 minutes, then invert onto the racks and cool completely (at least 1 hour—you can’t frost a hot cake!).

Cider Buttercream Frosting

¾ cup white sugar

3 Tblsp cornstarch

1/8 tsp salt

¾ cup apple cider

1 ¼ cups unsalted butter, softened

Whisk together the sugar, cornstarch and salt in a heavy saucepan.  Whisk in the cider, then bring to a boil over moderate heat, whisking constantly, and let boil, still whisking constantly, for 1 minutes.  This will be very thick!  Cool quickly by putting the mixture in a metal bowl, and then setting the bowl in a larger bowl of ice and cold water.  Stir occasionally until cool, about 30 minutes.

Beat the butter in a large bowl at medium-high speed until it is light and fluffy.  Mix in a third of the cider/sugar mixture and beat until well blended.  Add the rest and continue beating until smooth.

Then frost your cake!  Place the frosted cake in the refrigerator to set the frosting, about 2 hours. But let it warm up again so the frosting softens when you’re ready to serve. One more note:  this is a very flavorful buttercream frosting, so you can use it for any spice cake or cupcake recipe.


Friday, September 27, 2013

BOOK CLUB WEEK: Golden Malicious by Sheila Connolly

Massachusetts is enjoying what everyone agrees is an incredible bumper crop of apples this year, and since I write about an apple orchard, I'm thrilled. What's more, when groups such as book clubs gather, there is always food.  There's something very basic about feeding your guests, and it's also a wonderful opportunity to introduce and sample new dishes. 

When I started writing the Orchard Mystery series, I knew what most people know about apples—I could recognize an apple tree (if it had apples on it) and I knew the names of what I saw in grocery stores, not that those names meant a lot to me.  So when I created my heroine, Meg, I made it clear that she didn't know much about apples either.  She's been learning a lot in the past couple of years (going on two years in the books).  That goes hand in hand with learning about the people in her new town, Granford, Massachusetts.

Of course, learning to manage an orchard doesn't leave Meg a lot of time or energy for cooking, but everybody has to eat.  And apples lend themselves well to so many dishes, both sweet and savory.

But book club members have to earn those tasty dishes (work before play, right?), so I have some questions for you to think about.

Golden Malicious, coming out next week, is the seventh in the Orchard Mystery series.  Meg's life has definitely changed since she arrived in Granford.  But since not all readers will have read all the books, I've combine some specific questions about Meg and her new community with more general questions about reading cozy series.

  • Do you find that using a single theme in a series, like a craft shop or a food producer or seller, is too confining? Do you find it believable that a woman like Meg would go from a bank job crunching numbers to managing an orchard? 

  • Do you enjoy learning about something new in books, or are you impatient and wish the author would just get on with the story? Meg keeps getting distracted by murders in Granford, even while she's trying to expand her orchard and harvest her crop. Do you ever wonder how she manages to juggle it all? 
  • Do you prefer to read about crafts or trades that you might actually practice in your life, or do you just enjoy imagining them? Do you harbor a secret desire to return to a simpler life on a farm? (Warning:  it's hard work!) 
  • Most cozies are set in small towns, and Granford is a typical New England town.  Does it bother you that bodies keep turning up there?  Or that the local police seem unable to solve murders without help from an amateur? 
  • Do you like reading about new places you've never been, or do you prefer places you recognize or even know? How much description of the place can the author include before you're distracted from the story? 
  • Do you as a reader find yourself as identifying with the protagonist when she decides to get involved in solving a crime?  At the beginning of the series, Meg is a newcomer in town, so why is she qualified to investigate crimes there? Because she's smart, or because she has something to lose if the crime isn't solved or if the wrong person is accused? 
  • Many cozies include romantic elements, and sometimes there may be two men vying for the attention of the protagonist as she tries to solve crimes.  Do you think that romance has a place in cozy mysteries? How much attention should it be given? 
        In Golden Malicious, Meg and Seth have known each other for well
        over a year.  Is their relationship moving too slowly, too fast, or just
        fine (given all the other things they face, like multiple murders)?

In honor of the Massachusetts apple crop, I'm including my favorite apple cake recipe, but I've modified it for serving a group (individual slices work but they can be messy).  This recipe is tasty, dependable, and easy to make (it appeared in the first Orchard Mystery, One Bad Apple, and also in a guest post here in 2010).


3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 eggs (mix one of them up and add half)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups shredded apples (do not peel -- the skin adds texture to the cake; the shredding disk of a food processor works very well, or you can use a hand-grater).  How many apples you will need will depend on their size.
1 tsp vanilla extract


2 Tbl butter
2 Tbl brown sugar
2 Tbl granulated sugar
2 Tbl heavy cream
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Butter and flour small cake tins (the flour is important to keep these from sticking!) This recipe makes a total of four cups of batter.  The pans I used held 1/4 cup for each mini-cake, so should make 16.  The recipe can easily be doubled.

From my ever-growing vintage cookware collection

Combine the oil and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Blend very well.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.  Sift these into the oil-egg mixture and combine thoroughly.  Add the vanilla. Then fold in the raw apples, mixing well with a large spoon or spatula.  Pour or spoon the batter into the little cake pans. Note: when filling, stop 1/4-1/2 inch from the top, because the batter does rise a bit.

Ready to bake

Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick tester comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and let them cool while you prepare the glaze.

Glaze: Melt the butter, sugars, and heavy cream mixed with vanilla in a heavy pan.  Boil for 1 minute without stirring, then remove from heat.

A word of warning about the glaze: it’s addictive.  At my house we usually double the recipe, and fight over who gets to lick the pan.  My daughter pours it over ice cream, and she adds chopped nuts and coconut.  And sometimes we just skip the cake and eat it right out of the pan.  Yum!

Remove the cakes from the pans and drizzle the glaze over them while they are still warm.

GOLDEN MALICIOUS           (Orchard Mystery #7)

Coming October 1st!