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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Mother Mode

Every once in a great while, I wake up in the morning and there's no niggling feeling of anxiety left over from the day before.  Everything is in its place and everyone is in a good place.  Such is the case in our family at the moment.

Charlie, living in New York and working at his first real job, is not only doing well but has returned to being the wonderful young man I thought I was raising.  (Let's just say that the college years were not necessarily a good thing for our overall relationship.)  Kate is happily finding her way at college.  She's making friends, managing the work, and even winning tennis matches.  Ted and I are both chugging along, which after my summer of radiation, is welcome news.

Yup, life is good.  I almost hate to jinx it by saying anything.

Even the Pirates have had their best season in more than 20 years.  I'm not a big baseball fan, but Ted and the kids are diehard Pirates fans.  In fact, they are somewhat resentful of all the band wagon fans that have recently been claiming their devotion to the Bucs.  Kate has been live streaming games on her computer up at school, Ted has season tickets, and Charlie even made it home over the weekend to see the Pirates beat the Cardinals in game 3 of the series.

All is well, despite the fact that the Pirates lost game 4 and it's do or die for them today.

But I digress.  Charlie was here over the weekend and that allowed me to kick into full mothering mode.  And what, I ask you, is more mothering that a good apple cake?  According to my friend Mona, every mother has an apple cake -- at least every mother we know.

I've made almost as many Jewish apple cakes as I have pound cakes.  They're all basically the same. -- batter, apples, batter, apples.  And they're all good.  But even taking that into account, I am still making new and different apple cakes just to challenge myself.

This time I decided to give Smitten Kitchen's Mom's Apple Cake a whirl.  Quick, easy, and of course delicious.  Really delicious.  What made this one so much better than apple cakes of the past?

The apples.  Plain and simple.  It was the apples.

Recently I have been receiving these really ugly, pockmarked little apples in my CSA basket.  These apples may be ugly, but they are the most delicious apples I've had in a long time. They taste like... apples.  Not red fruit, but apples the way they're supposed to taste.

So, Charlie was home and I made him an apple cake.  Try this one or try your favorite recipe, but look for the best ugly little apples you can find.  I promise you something special.

Recipe:  Mom’s Apple Cake
Smitten Kitchen


6 apples
1 tablespoon cinnamon
5 tablespoons sugar

2 3/4 cups flour, sifted
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a tube pan. Peel, core and chop apples into chunks. Toss with cinnamon and sugar and set aside.

Stir together flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, orange juice, sugar and vanilla. Mix wet ingredients into the dry ones, then add eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the bowl to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.

Pour half of batter into prepared pan. Spread half of apples over it. Pour the remaining batter over the apples and arrange the remaining apples on top. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until a tester comes out clean. Cool completely before running knife between cake and pan, and unmolding onto a platter.

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