Sunday, October 17, 2010


What a GORGEOUS fall we're having, and despite the moonsoon we had this past Friday (leaving miniature lakes in everyone's yards!), the weather has been crisp and lovely. In fact, a few weekends ago, a friend from work invited a gang of us over to their house (just down the road from the old house in Sciota) for a day of apple cider-pressing and baking with her multi-talented husband in the fantastic wood-fired brick oven that he built out back. There was a smattering of rain on the way to their house, but once that front had passed, it was a beautiful, sunny, autumnal day.

We worked hard all day sorting, washing, chopping, and pressing the apples. But we took breaks along the way to make delicious individual pizzas for lunch in the wood-fired oven, and also to bake loaves of homemade bread (my favorite was the molasses bread). And even though I got a wicked blister on my hand from cutting up apples, our labors were rewarded with about seven gallons of sweet, tangy, refreshing, fresh-pressed cider from 100-year-old heritage apples. YUM! Here are a few miscellaneous pictures from the day, which I certainly hope becomes an annual fall event:

Since it is the High Holy (Apple) Season, I would also like to share a recipe for a terrific apple bundt cake from Smitten Kitchen that I made for my friend Vicky's birthday. I took more than a few liberties with the original recipe as is my way, the most significant of which was to convert the recipe for use in a bundt pan. But the very best amendment was the buttered rum glaze that added to the top! This very moist, flavorful cake is a must-make at this glorious time of year!

Apple Cake with Buttered Rum Glaze
Smitten Kitchen)

6 apples, I used Macs and Spartans
1 tablespoon cinnamon
5 tablespoons sugar (I used 3 T white + 2 T brown)
2 3/4 cups flour, sifted (I used 1 1/2 C white whole wheat, the rest AP)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar (I reduced this to 1 1/2 C and used 1 C white + 1/2 C brown)
1/4 cup orange juice (I used our fresh apple cider!)
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional, but I used them)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a tube pan (I used a bundt pan sprayed with flour-added spray). 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 (or cider), 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. (I whisked the wet ingredients together--including the eggs but not the cider--for two minutes, then added half the dry ingredients, the cider, then the rest of the dry stuff in the traditional manner. Then I stirred in the chopped walnuts.)

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. (In the bundt pan, I alternated 1/3 of the batter, 1/2 apples--and juice--1/3 batter, the remaining apples, and the last of the batter.)

Bake for about 90 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. (You may need to tent the top with foil if it gets too brown before the end of baking.)

Buttered Rum Glaze:

4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup dark, spiced rum

In a small saucepan, combine the butter, sugar and water, and bring to a boil for five minutes. Remove from the heat, then add the rum. Bring back to a boil for a minute. When the cake comes out of the oven, poke it all over with holes using a long wooden skewer, and apply about half the glaze to the bottom with a pastry brush. Once the cake has cooled for about a half hour (until the pan is not hot to the touch, just warm), turn it out onto a rack and use the rest of the glaze all over the top and sides of the cake.

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