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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Autumn Leaves

The best part about moving east is that now I have four seasons.  Back in California, we all got excited if the temperature dipped below 60.  Out came the turtlenecks and the boots.  After all, we had to stay warm.

It's funny how your perspective changes.  Now that I've lived in a cold climate for ten plus years, it takes far more than a 60 degree day for the boots to come out.  In fact, I often surprise my California friends by reporting that even on cold winter days (and by cold, I mean days around freezing), I don't wear anything more than a heavy sweater if I'm not going to be outside for long.  Cold isn't quite as cold as it used to be.

My absolute favorite time of the year is fall.  I love watching the trees change and feeling the crunch of the fallen leaves under my shoes.  I love those first few crisp days, when the sky is still blue but the air has a decidedly cooler feel.

I like how the food tastes like fall too.  I love the crispness of the apples and the smell of cinnamon.  The pumpkins and apples mimic the fall foliage and everything has a comforting rustic taste to it.  I find myself making loaf after loaf of pumpkin bread, along with apple everything: apple sauce, apple cake, apple pie, and baked apples.

So, when I come across a recipe that combines apples and pumpkin I feel obligated to try it.  And that's obligated in a good way.

This recipe comes from one of my favorite baking books: Kathleen King's Baking for Friends.  Not only do the recipes all work (which is not always a given...), they are all delicious.  In fact, there's not a recipe I've made from Baking for Friends that hasn't been really yummy.  I should also note that Ina Garten is one of the friends for whom Kathleen King bakes.  And if you're baking for Ina, it better be good.

Whip this cake up, pour yourself a nice cup of tea and settle in.  You'll taste autumn in every bite.

Recipe:  Pumpkin Apple Cake
Kathleen King, Baking for Friends


Softened butter and all-purpose flour for the pan
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup solid-pack pumpkin
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch dice (2 cups)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
Confectioners' sugar for dusting


Position the oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter and flour a 9 inch fluted or plain tube pan and tap out the excess flour.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, wheat germ, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. In a large bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer set on high speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Gradually beat in the granulated and brown sugars and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. One at a time, beat in the eggs, followed by the vanilla, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the pumpkin and beat until combined. Add the apples and walnuts. With the mixer set on low speed, min in the flour mixture in thirds, scraping down the bowl as needed. Spread the batter in the prepared pan.

Bake until the cake is golden brown and a long bamboo skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 1 hour. Let cool in the pan on a wire cooling rack for 15 minutes. Invert the cake onto the wire rack and unmold. Turn right side up and cool completely.

To serve, sift confectioners' sugar over the top and cut into wedges

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