Monday, February 29, 2016

Let Us Eat Cake!

Let us eat cake!  Let us celebrate!

My turn to make cake........but the birthday girl gets to choose what kind.  And the winner is?  Applesauce cake with caramel frosting! Happy birthday, dear Leo....happy birthday to you!

I love making this cake for so many reasons.  First reason is the cookbook itself, a gift from Millie almost 40 years ago.
 It is what we fondly call the 'old St. John's cookbook', full of well known names past and present.  There are kitschy little quatrains and helpful household hints in the margin.The pages are stained, sticky, and yellowing at the edges. The apple cake recipes have all been sampled, except for the one with coconut, an ingredient I don't regularly have on hand.  Even though I've made many cakes from this cookbook through the years, I still have to stop and read the recipes to ensure I am getting ready to bake the right one: no to the raisins and the cake flour, yes to the cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and cup and a half of applesauce. No to Mrs. Anna Rolf's recipe; yes to Mrs. Adolph Kemper's.
I've got a tall quart jar of homemade applesauce.  I used to cheat and throw in a whole pint jar for the 1 1/2 cup applesauce the recipe calls for just because I hated to have that little dab of sauce left in the jar. Bad idea! Better to open a quart jar and avoid a result that is more 'sauce' than 'cake'. Besides, that leaves a part of a jar for the kids to finish at lunch!
I sample this sauce...mmm, it's pretty and pink, sweet and tart simultaneously....a jar of Macintosh from the tree by my mother and father's back door. Macintosh apples are not for eating out of hand and they don't keep well as fruit, but there is no better apple for sauce...and thus for breads and cakes year 'round.  When I stir up this cake batter in my big Kitchenaid, I am mixing up the ingredients of our family's heritage. What better way to celebrate a family birthday!
As a purely practical manner, this recipe is always perfect after 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  No guesswork, no toothpick, no angst.

It is also a perfect vehicle for a batch of caramel frosting.  Another vintage recipe from a vintage cookbook, this time a Kitchen Klatter cookbook that was already a classic when I received it as a shower gift from Grandma Hurst's friend, Mabel Pursell, back in 1976.
The cover is gone, but there are two frosting recipes in this book that are nonpareil.  One is a quick fudge frosting notable for its sheen and smoothness; first step for this one is beating an egg to frothiness.  The other is the 'Elegant Caramel Frosting'.  I'd swear on a stack of cookbooks of its infallibility if I hadn't managed one time to burn it to inedibility.  But, honestly, the exception proves the rule: this is the next best thing to a homemade caramel candy minus the risk of damaged dental work.  Caramel frosting is at least half the reason to bake this cake and this recipe piles it generously on all four corners.
Finally, the interpretation of "fruit" in our family is lenient and the leeway allotted to a birthday celebrant is broad. IF, perchance, there is any  applesauce cake remaining after dessert is served, it is completely appropriate to eat it for breakfast the next day.  Carpe diem!

Another day, another birthday. Another chance to bring together past and present, to light candles and have the little ones blow them out in a gust of smoke, to dish up tradition and thanksgiving around a big table.

To eat cake.

1 comment:

  1. Oh that cake sounds delicious and homemade applesauce is definitely not the same as the store bought. Thanks for sharing on the Country Fair Blog Party this month!