Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Cranberry Apple Cake

First off, if I ever start telling a story that involves the words "so I was peeling apples" there will almost certainly also be the words "and then I was bleeding all over the place." When Chris moved in earlier this year we faced a dilemma that I'm sure most people are familiar with -- how to combine all of our stuff into one place. The biggest problem area for us of course was kitchen stuff. We both had kitchen tools, gadgets, pots, pans, knives -- whatever -- that we used all the time that we wanted to keep. But in the spirit of compromise we went through our collections and pared things down.

In retrospect, one tool of mine that I should have kept was my vegetable peeler. Chris and I both had nice, good grips brand vegetable peelers -- just different types. Mine was the traditional kind while Chris' was a swivel peeler. I wasn't particularly attached to my peeler (mainly because I didn't actually use it much) and Chris liked his, so we threw mine into the Salvation Army box and put his into the tool drawer. Later in the year, I started using the vegetable peeler on apples -- about the time when my true obsession with baked goods really got started -- and every single time I have used that thing I have taken off a chunk of skin. Usually from the tip of my right pinky finger, but occasionally other fingers as well...

It is sharp. and when used on apples, potatoes, carrots or other veggies quite effective. but I find it awkward to hold and usually manage to slip with the thing at least once -- no matter how careful I'm being. I'm to the point now that I won't even talk while I'm using it, because one little distraction is sure to result in me bleeding.

All of this brings me to apple cake tonight. JB pointed me to a food blog called the Wednesday Chef -- he was pointing out the pork tenderloin roasted on a salt crust (which did look amazing), but I naturally saw the apple cake that was on the same page and thought of the four apples I had in the kitchen that needed to be used up. I started peeling the apples with great trepidation, and I was ridiculously proud of myself when I managed to get all four peeled without slipping and cutting myself. Granted, Chris was out of the house running some errands so I wasn't distracted by conversation and I was incredibly careful with the whole endeavor, and truth be told I did slip once... I just manged to miss my finger that time.

Then I started slicing the apples... with one of Chris' ridiculously sharp knives... and since I wasn't peeling the apples anymore I let myself get a bit distracted... Luckily I barely nicked myself. I still bled a bit, but nothing serious, which was pretty amazing considering how sharp Chris keeps those things.

Anyway... on to the actual food since this is a food blog and all. I liked the cake quite a bit -- sweet cake with slices of tart apples and sour cranberries, and added crunch from pecans. It was especially good still warm from the oven. :) For those of you who are lactose intolerant, it has the added advantage of being lactose free since the fat comes from vegetable oil and there is no milk in the recipe. The texture of the cake batter was quite surprising though -- it looked like caramel and was very thick, I was a bit concerned with it when I put it into the oven, but it baked up beautifully.

I baked it in a bundt pan and the recipe calls for greasing the pan and dusting with flour. I was feeling a bit lazy though and just sprayed it with cooking spray instead -- which might be why a chunk of cake stuck to the pan when I turned it out. Chris liked that part though because it meant he got a bigger piece (can't bring the "ugly" part into work...)

I had four apples sitting around -- three braeburns (my favorites) and one granny smith that we got for another recipe and didn't use. I peeled and sliced all four, but I didn't use them all and probably could have gotten away with three medium apples.

With the dry ingredients I was feeling lazy again so I skipped the sifting and ended up just measuring everything right into the wet ingredients and turning my mixer on low to get them stirred together. I did fold the apples, pecans and cranberries in by hand, but I suspect I didn't get them distributed all that evenly.


butter for greasing pan
3 cups flour, plus more for dusting pan
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups peeled, cored and thickly sliced tart apples, like Gala
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1 cup fresh cranberries

Preheat oven to 350. Butter and flour a 9-inch tube pan. Beat the oil and sugar together in a mixer (fitted with a paddle attachment) while assembling the remaining ingredients. After about 5 minutes, add the eggs and beat until the mixture is creamy.

Sift together 3 cups of flour, the salt, cinnamon and baking soda. Stir into the batter. Add the vanilla, apples, pecans and cranberries and stir until combined.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan before turning out. Serve at room temp.


Mira said...

i'm glad it was minimal bleeding for once.

Anonymous said...

see? i do something useful every now & then :)