Make this cake. Right now.

November 24, 2008 at 2:20 pm (Recipes, Uncategorized)

Oh, my lands. This cake is a new family favorite. Even if it’s just my little family. I urge you to make this cake as soon as you can. It’s not complicated, it doesn’t use exotic ingredients, it smells divine, and tastes delicious.

jewish-apple-cakeThis recipe comes from the Smitten Kitchen blog. I haven’t tried many recipes off this site, and they seem to be hit and miss. But this one looked promising in part because it uses oil in the cake batter, which I know produces a moist cake. And it uses apples and I’m always on the lookout for a good apple recipe.

Mom’s Apple Cake

6 apples, Mom uses McIntosh 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
1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

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.

Ok, a few notes about the recipe.  First, she’s calling it “Mom’s Apple Cake” but the recipe is also known as “Jewish Apple Cake”, which is what I propose we call it to avoid confusion.  Secondly, you might be tempted, as I was, to mix the batter by hand, but resist that urge.  When you combine the dry and wet ingredients, it forms a very thick dough and is difficult to stir.  Much easier to whip out the old Kitchen Aid to incorporate those eggs, which makes the batter, while still thick, at least pourable.  Thirdly, I used a cooking apple called a Harrison.  I suggest using a sweet cooking apple and not a granny smith unless you absolutely LOVE tart apples.  Fourth, I think you need a tube pan.  As I was making this, I was wondering to myself if you could use a bundt pan, but as I watched it rise and rise and rise in the oven, I became convinced that you would need the taller, more spacious tube pan.  But don’t despair!  Tube pans are cheap and you can pick up one at Target or Walmart.  Totally worth it, even if you only use it for this cake.  And when it cooled later, it shrunk back down nicely.  Fifthly, mine took closer to 2 hours to bake.  Time intensive in the baking process, but it only took 15 minutes to throw together.

jewish-apple-cake-sliceSee, moist, filled with apples and yummy goodness.  I didn’t add powdered sugar to mine.  I didn’t think the cake needed any adornment, but if you dust the entire cake, the sugar is going to absorb into the moist top overnight.  Because it’s so moist, and because it makes a big cake, I froze half this morning.  I’m going to assume it will freeze well because of the oil.

jewish-apple-cake-topI served this with ice cream, but it really didn’t need it.  I needed the ice cream so it was all good.  I also ate it for breakfast the next morning.  Like a melt-in-your mouth fritter.  I have a feeling I’ve found a new favorite cake.  I hope you enjoy!


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Cookie Discovery

November 19, 2008 at 7:26 pm (Uncategorized)

You may remember this summer the New York Times posted a long article about the perfect chocolate chip cookie. The article and accompanying recipe made the blog-rounds and got people talking. Here is a link to the article. Basically, the idea is that you need to let the dough rest for 36 hours because the egg is very slow to absorb into the flour. I thought this was a bit of a preposterous idea – chocolate chip cookies are something you make on a whim and eat half the batch while they’re still warm from the oven. Who plans on eating their cookie in 36 hours? Frankly, in my home, after 36 hours, there are only chocolate crumbs left.

But I thought the idea was intriguing – that the cookie can taste different and have different textures depending on how long the dough has been resting. At the 36 hour mark, the cookie is supposed to have a delightfully crispy-crunch outer ring, followed by a chewy middle ring, and a soft center.

Last weekend I made a batch of cookie and I baked a third on Friday night, a third Saturday night and a third on Sunday night. Here are my impressions.

At the 0-hour mark, the cookie was very, very sweet. It was uniformly soft throughout and uniform in color (light brown). The texture was uniform also. Basically, it was the cookie treat we all think of, but it didn’t have much complexity or sophistication. Not that you need those in a cookie, but this experiment is promising more, you know?

On Saturday, at the 24 hour mark, the cookie did crisp up in the center, but there was only one other ring – a chewy middle. It was much less sweet, and less cloying. You could taste a more pronounced butter flavor and the chocolate wasn’t nearly as overwhelming. It also had a more satisfying bite, heft, and golden color.

The Sunday cookie, baked at 48-hours, surprised me the most. It did indeed have three distinct regions; a crispy outer ring, a chewy middle and the very center was extremely soft – almost gooey. Because of the different textures, the flavor did have more nuance depending on where you were biting into. But, I didn’t much care for the gooey center as it was too mushy. I wonder if you would achieve the same result if the cookie was baked 12 hours earlier, but based on this experiment, I conclude that the 24-hour rest period produced a cookie that I liked best.

All that being said, there is no such thing as a bad chocolate chip cookie! If you can wait, or save some dough to bake later, the cookie does take on different properties, but it all depends on your personal preference. I’m still not sure I can wait 24 hours to eat a cookie, but I can at least save some of the dough for later.

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Hands Free Driving – Training Video

November 18, 2008 at 10:27 am (Uncategorized)

Oh, my, word….this video is really funny.  It comes to you from Dooce, so again, I’m not cool enough to find this stuff on my own.  A training video for those of you living in “hands free” states.  Enjoy!

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Two dogs more unlucky than mine

November 6, 2008 at 3:43 pm (Uncategorized)

Lola and Spice are so happy I didn’t do this to them:

coco-and-chuckThis is Chuck and Coco from Poor dogs.

And I guess they should be glad they aren’t part of this family, the Sporh’s. Tom should thank his lucky stars.


ok, and this one is really offensive but totally funny.


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