Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Cake, Desserts

Applesauce Spice Cake

Family Day at Purdue University brought us down to campus for a weekend of fun and football.  When looking over recipes to serve on the tailgate table, this applesauce cake caught my eye.  As many of you that frequently bake might testify, I rarely follow a recipe as it’s written.  I am constantly checking my stash of leftovers to see how they can be transformed into deliciously satisfying baked goods.  This week, I adapted an apple cake recipe that I found in an old community cookbook to create this moist, dense cake. I had made applesauce earlier in the week and I was looking for ways to use it up before having to freeze it.  This cake fit the bill and everyone enjoyed its apple and cinnamon spiced flavor.  The recipe is especially good with a cup of hot tea or coffee on a cool fall or winter day. 

Applesauce Spice Cake

3 cups flour

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

4 cups applesauce (chunky or homemade style)

1 cup canola oil

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1/2 cup whole oats

1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray, with cooking spray, a 13×9 inch baking pan.  In a medium bowl, mix first six dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl, combine applesauce, oil, and eggs; mix well.  Pour dry ingredients into applesauce mixture and combine until well blended.   Pour into prepared pan and sprinkle batter with oats and nuts. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Bread, Cake, Desserts, Food

Cinnamon-Sugar Apple Cake

I have to admit, there is nothing healthy about this delicious cake but I sure love the ease at which this recipe falls together and it’s not difficult to make a healthier version, if you’re so inclined.

One can easily substitute the white flour for a mix of whole wheat or oat flour,  cutting the sugar really wouldn’t be a problem for the integrity of the end product, and substituting the sugary topping for a honey glaze or adding a sprinkle of whole oats would certainly satisfy most.

I found three golden apples at the bottom of the produce drawer this morning.  Usually  I bake on Saturday mornings, but I was out of town yesterday reading to a group of young children, as we were promoting the importance of literacy and introducing young parents to some really great children’s books.

So… Today is my baking day.  I am crafting this post as this delicious cake continues to rise and brown in the oven.  The smell of the cinnamon-sugar and vanilla mixed with the golden apples is simply irresistible.  After chopping the apples, I realized that I had prepared enough for two cakes so I will keep one and share one.  I’m sure the lucky recipient will be happy to take one of these sweet treats off of my hands (#care-package)!

Cinnamon-Sugar Apple Cake

Batter:

1½ cups brown sugar

⅓ cup oil

1 egg

1 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

2½ cups flour

1½ cups chopped apples

Topping:

½ cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Spray with cooking spray, a 9X13″ baking pan.  Mix batter ingredients in the order listed.  In a small bowl, mix topping ingredients, cutting butter into sugar and cinnamon; set aside. Pour batter into prepared baking pan. Evenly sprinkle topping over batter.  Bake for 45 minutes or until center is set.

A few quick pics of the cake baked in a slightly different pan…

To top each of these cakes, I used a combination of whole oats and a honey glaze.  Cheers!

Posted in appetizers/snacks, Canning, Food, Gardening

Preserved Apple Slices

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This week I had the opportunity to attend a series of Master Home Food Preservation classes in central Indiana. I can’t even express my excitement over the valuable information that was shared during the week long certification class. We learned of techniques for freezing, water bath canning, drying, pickling, and pressure canning through PowerPoint slides and hands-on lab time.
It was a long, sometimes exhausting, week where I spent time with other classmates testing various techniques for preserving the best of the season. One important point that I would like to make about home food preservation is one that focuses on food safety…Never use a recipe that has not been tested by a reputable entity such as the USDA or Ball Canning. Use recipes that have been developed no earlier than 1995 as food science and technology specialists have shared new information that focuses on current food safety practices. The USDA is one of the only sources I use for my canning recipes. Here is the link for the National Center for Home Food Preservation/USDA canning recipe book.
You can download the whole book for free. The recipe for apple slices is on page 7. I can’t stress how important it is to use a laboratory tested recipe. It’s a matter of life and death! Botulism is no laughing matter so it’s important that you follow tested recipes exactly as they are written. Do not alter ingredients or quantities. Process as directed. I recommend using recipes as advised and then after you have opened a jar to serve the contents, make your adjustments to spice things up to favor your preference. Then, refrigerate and use up the quantity as directed.
For more information about home food preservation, visit the National Center’s website at http://nchfp.uga.edu.

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Bread, breakfast, Brunch, holidays

Dutch Apple Pancake

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I have great memories of our years living in Chicago with our young family. One of my favorite breakfast spots was a neighborhood restaurant called “The Original Pancake House”. We would pack up the kids after mass on Sunday and head up Western Avenue to the local restaurant. As we walked in the door, nearly every table held a plate or two filled with a puffed apple pancake sprinkled with powdered sugar and topped with a dollop of butter.
When we moved out of state, I vowed to duplicate the recipe myself so that we could forever enjoy the deliciousness of our favorite pancake.
This morning, I pulled out a few ingredients and made my version of the recipe for the family. This pancake presents beautifully for a special occasion but it’s certainly easy enough to whip up any time.

Dutch Apple Pancake

2 Golden Delicious apples, cored, peeled, and thinly sliced
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3 tablespoons butter, melted

Heat oven to 425°. Put an oven-proof 9- or 10-inch skillet or round baking pan in the oven. In a bowl, combine the apple slices with brown sugar and cinnamon; toss gently to coat well. In another bowl, mix flour with salt. In a large cup or small bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, and 1 tablespoon of the melted butter.
Take the pan out of the oven and add remaining butter; swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Arrange apple slices in the bottom of the pan. Pour batter over apples. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until puffed and lightly browned. Serve with syrup and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

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Posted in appetizers/snacks, Baked goods, Baking, breakfast, Brunch, Food, lunch box

Granola Topped Apple Morning Muffins

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Recently, I combined three of my favorite recipes to make these delicious muffins. It seems I have been making granola and applesauce quite regularly these past few months. Often, I have a little bit of each left after making lunches for the week. About a month ago, I decided to put the scraps to use by incorporating them into a muffin recipe. I folded the chunky homemade applesauce into a basic muffin recipe and sprinkled granola over the top of each muffin. My granola recipe has a bit of maple syrup in it so it adds another layer of flavor to the crunchy topped muffins. (Substitute your own favorites, if you would like.)
These muffins look and smell delicious as they come out of the oven. It’s hard to resist brewing a hot cup of coffee and sitting down with one of these gems in the early morning hours, as a new day begins.

Granola Topped Apple Morning Muffins

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups applesauce
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup chopped pecans, optional
Granola for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, cream butter and sugars together. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. Stir in applesauce. Combine the flour, baking soda and spices; stir into creamed mixture. Fold in nuts.
Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups three-fourths full. Sprinkle granola over individual muffins. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. This makes about 2 dozen regular-sized muffins.

Here is the link for the chunky applesauce and granola topping

Posted in appetizers/snacks, Baking, breakfast, Gardening, lunch box

Chunky Homemade Applesauce with Simple Granola Topping

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We spent a beautiful afternoon at the local apple orchard last weekend. I had my mind set on making several batches of homemade applesauce while the fruit is in abundance and is reasonably priced.
When we first moved to our current home, J and I planted several apple trees on the back portion of our property. That was 13 years ago and we have not been able to harvest one single apple since then. We planted them in an open area beyond our woods which must be the perfect spot for all of the local deer to munch on whatever fruit begin to grow on the miniature trees.
In our area there are several great orchards so taking a trip to purchase bulk fruit and vegetables isn’t too much trouble. We picked up lots of apples, sweet potatoes, cider, fresh apple donuts, and chestnuts.
I’ve been making this particular applesauce recipe for years and years. The addition of vanilla makes a world of difference, adding an extra layer of flavor. If you own an apple peeler/corer, it will make this recipe super quick and easy to assemble.

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Chunky Homemade Applesauce with Simple Granola Topping

8 cups apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a large pot, combine apples, brown sugar and cinnamon. Cook over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes; while stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Mash apples to desired consistency. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Simple Granola Topping

3 cups rolled oats
1 cup pecans, chopped
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup raisins or dried fruit, if desired

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, and brown sugar. In a separate bowl, combine maple syrup, oil, and salt. Combine both mixtures and pour onto parchment lines sheet pan. Cook for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally to achieve an even color. Add raisins or dried fruit if desired.

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Posted in appetizers/snacks, Baked goods, breakfast, Brunch, Desserts, Food

Ken Williams Orchards Apple Slices

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Many years ago, we traveled from Chicago up to a beautiful apple orchard in Three Oaks, Michigan called Ken Williams Orchards. After a day of picking and picnicking, we headed to the counter to pay for our bushel of apples. On the counter sat a sheet of paper that was entitled, “Favorite Apple Recipes” and listed five of the orchard’s favorite recipes. I asked the clerk if I could have the sheet and she said, “Sure, take one, they’re free!”
Well, I have used this recipe sheet over and over for the last 16 years…our favorite recipe of the bunch is something called Apple Bars. I have changed the recipe a bit and I call them apple slices. It really doesn’t matter what you call them…they will always be delicious! This is definitely the best apple slice recipe I have ever tasted.

Ken William’s Orchards Apple Slices

2 1/4 cups flour, divided
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter or margarine
2 egg yolks
4 cups sliced apples
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon milk

Combine 2 cups of flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in butter until crumbs are the size of peas. Stir in egg yoke. Press half of the mixture in the bottom of a 9×13″ baking pan, and reserve the rest. Combine apples, remaining flour, sugar, and cinnamon; place apple mixture over crust in pan. Sprinkle with remaining crumbs. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Cool and drizzle with thin icing of powdered sugar, vanilla and milk.

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Posted in Baked goods, Brunch, Desserts, Food

Apple-Blueberry Slices

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When my kids were young, we used to find every opportunity available to pack up the car to find a local farm or orchard where we could pick the latest harvest. We’d arrive home with our bounty of goodies and spend the next few days canning, freezing, and baking with the produce that we picked. One of my favorite apple orchards was in Wisconsin. The owner would always have a recipe sheet displayed on the front counter for customers to take home with their purchase. All of the recipes were tested on the owner’s family and proved to be delicious.
One year, we picked bushels of apples and arrived at the front counter to see the usual list with various apple recipes listed along the front and back of the page. When I got home, I tried the recipe for Apple Slices. Wow, was it delicious! Every time I make the slices, I am asked for the recipe.
This week I added a handful of blueberries to the filling mix. I had a few leftover blueberries and I thought they would compliment the apple and cinnamon flavors.
I was right! These are delicious! The original apple slice recipe will always be at the top of my favorite recipe’s list.
Here’s the recipe for the revised apple-blueberry version.

Apple-Blueberry Slices

Dough:
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup shortening
1 egg, slightly beaten
Filling:
3 cups apples, cored, peeled and chopped
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 teaspoons cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray with cooking spray a 9×13″ pan.
For the dough: In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, and baking powder. Cut in shortening and egg. Dough will be crumbly. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan. Set the rest aside.
For the filling: In another bowl, stir together the sugar, cinnamon, and cornstarch. Gently mix in the apples and blueberries. Sprinkle the apple-blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the apple- blueberry layer. Bake for 45 minutes, or until top is slightly brown. Cool completely. Use my powdered sugar glaze recipe to drizzle over cooled pan.