Friday, February 10, 2012

The Small Things and An Apple Cake

In the early (earlier) years of our marriage, when I would bake, my tidy husband would watch with wide eyes.  He'd slowly shake his head and say, "You get flour everywhere."  I would survey my counters and see the same kind of flour dustings I'd seen on my mom's counter when she baked.  Nothing to warrent the disbelief and amazement in Matt's tone.   Recently, I asked my mother-in-law if she ever gets flour on her coutertops when baking.

"No," she explained.  "I cover the entire counter with plastic wrap and tape it to the edges."

I just blinked a few times in response.

So these days, I make more of an effort to not spill flour on the counters.  I measure and pour my ingredients over a plastic cutting board. And Matt, in turn, turns a blind eye to the messes I make when I express myself with flour and sugar.  It is a small compromise.  But I am learning that it is the small things, one hundred a day, that make a marriage, a relationship, a life. 

In our case it is literally small things: crumbs of cake or coffee or bread from a sandwich I make for Matt in the evening.  Or the bobby pins that I seem to shed everywhere and Matt collects from the couch cushions, his car and the kitchen drawers and patiently puts away.  I remember when I was ten (and knew everything), I planned on having a husband who would buy me flowers and chocolates.  Matt has been known to buy me flowers, but it is the way that he looks down and sees flour on the counter, says nothing, and smiles that makes me feel loved. 

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Here is a recipe for cake.  I saw it last week on Sweet Amandine and have been thinking about it ever since.  That was before I even tasted it.  Now I'm sitting here with my second piece of it, and I'm already thinking about how I can justify eating it for breakfast tomorrow.  Since it is made with whole wheat flour and apples, it should be easy.

I've been trying to not buy groceries during the week.  But some of my ingredients didn't stretch as far as I'd hoped, so the tilapia filets in the freezer were on the menu for tonight.  I remembered the apple cake, looked at it again, and saw that I had all the ingredients.  Plus it seemed like a great way to use some of the apples that have been suffering silently in my fridge since we tired of them last fall.

While my tilapia filets were thawing in the sink, I mixed up the cake.  And it was perfect.  It smells like that warm fuzzy feeling you get in college when you go home for Christmas vacation and you are eating your mom's food again.  I've always taken issue with apple cakes in the past.  A light concoction of butter, flour and sugar always seems at odds with the hearty apple.  Jess at Sweet Amandine solves this problem by using whole wheat flour and plenty of cinnamon.  The result is a caramely (caramley without butter!), thoothsome cake that is both wholesome and satisfying.  Who cares what you are eating for supper, when you know you get to eat this when you're finished?  I'm looking forward to breakfast.

Jess's Teddie
Adapted (by Sweet Amandine) from The New York Times, November 4, 2007 (Originally published, September 30, 1973)

1 c. whole wheat flour
½ c. all purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. baking soda
¾ c. vegetable oil
1 lightly packed c. dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. peeled, cored, and thickly sliced apples
1 Tbsp. Demarara sugar
Oil and flour a 9-inch round cake pan and heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the brown sugar and oil together in a mixer using the paddle attachment.  Sift together the flours, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda.  After five minutes, add the eggs and then the vanilla to the oil and sugar, and continue beating until the mixture is creamy.

Add the dry ingredients into the sugar, egg, and oil mixture and stir by hand until just combined. Fold in the apple slices.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, sprinkle with Demarara sugar.  bake for for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan before turning out.

Serves 8-10


  1. I want to try it! Looks very yummy :)

  2. Is this bad? I was hungry, so I had to go try this. It is pretty good! Now to wait on my husband to get home to eat a big piece!

    1. That was fast! And no, of course it isn't bad. I hope you both enjoy it as much as I did.

  3. Marriage is an adjustment of expectations, if nothing else. (But it is a lot more.) I had to giggle about taping plastic wrap down to keep a counter clean. I can't imagine! Maybe I should be asking my mother-in-law more questions! :O)

  4. "An adjustment of expectations" is an an excellent way to put it, Carrie! Especially during those first couple years. I'm a little scared to ask my mother-in-law any more questions! :)

  5. To me it tasted like gingerbread with apples. I think you should really make it again just to be on the safe side and bring some more to work!


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