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Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Bushel and a Peck

Winter is not a great time for fruit.  You have your bananas and your apples and your pears.  And you have your citrus.  But let's face it, unless you want something grown far from home in South America, you're not going to get a lot of other stuff.  That's just fine with me because I think winter fruits are not only great for eating plain, I think they are are great to cook with as well.

Yesterday Ted and I went to Soergels Orchards while Kate was at tennis.  Although tennis is a real schlep from home, one of the advantages of the schlep, besides Frank, is that it's around the corner from Soergels.  Soergels is a farm stand on steroids.  In the fall you can hardly get into the parking lot.  The place is an absolute zoo.  In the winter, after the holidays, it's much quieter but they still have lots of varieties of apples, amazing fresh pressed apple cider,  and really delicious homemade pies.  But I digress.  Ted and I stopped off and ended up walking out with a big bag of empire, golden delicious, and gala apples.

I'll bet you can see where this is going.  A week of apples.  Wrong!  The great thing about apples is that they cook down to nothing so I think that with just a little organization, I'll be though them in just a couple of recipes.  So, I think it will be more like a day or two of apples.  So there.

I often like to make a coffee cake to eat over weekend.  We can have it on Saturday or Sunday morning and then it's around for part of the week.  So, faced with a big bag of apples, I decided to go with an apple coffee cake this morning.  I scanned my cookbooks and settled on a recipe from  Williams Sonoma as a starting point.  That's the thing.  The more I cook, the more I use recipes as a starting point but not as a final destination.  The recipe looked good but lacked  zip.  No problem.  I changed it up, added a few different ingredients, and a few twists and turns later, out of the oven came an absolutely delicious apple coffee cake.

I think you're going to like my version of the apple coffee cake.  It's not too sweet and it has a thick layer of my favorite streusel on the top.   And you'll get your apple a day.  Sounds good to me.

Recipe:  Apple Coffee Cake with Streusel Topping


For the Cake:

3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 large eggs
3 Golden Delicious or Empire apples, peeled, cored, and cut into small cubes

For the Streusel:

1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350.  Lightly butter and flour a 9x13 inch baking dish.

In a bowl, sift together the flour, baling soda, cinnamon, and salt.  In another bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, brown sugar, oil, applesauce, zest, vanilla, and eggs.  Make a well in the flour mixture and add the applesauce mixture.  Stir with a wooden spoon until just combined.  Add the apples and stir until combined.  Spread the batter in the prepared pan, smoothing the top.

To make the streusel, combine the granulated sugar,  brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl.  Stir in the melted butter and the flour.  Mix well.  Sprinkle the streusel mixture evenly over the top of the cake.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of the cake comes out clean, about 1 hour.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.  Cut into squares and serve at room temperature.

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