March 1, 2011

Super Easy Apple Cake

When I was a tween (though it wasn't called that at the time), I realized that everyone collected something: baseball cards, sea shells, coins, tee-shirts from the Hardrock Cafe, stickers, posters, baseball caps, toe nail clippings. Or, if you're Graybeard, bellybutton lint. I decided that I needed to collect something too. But I only had my baby-sitting money, and I was saving that up. (For what, I didn't know at the time.) I didn't want to spend money on junk just for the sake of collecting something, so I decided to collect movie tickets; I was a kid, and what else do kids do but go to the movies? By the end of high school my senior class mug was filled with movie tickets. Now what? Sure, I had quite a collection, but I never looked at them and didn't care about them. (I had briefly collected Chris O'Donnell posters after seeing Scent of a Woman, but I didn't buy enough Bop magazines for my pictures of him to count as a collection.) I clearly didn't get the rationale for collecting things.

Now, however, I get it. I collect recipes, and they provide me with wonderful meal after wonderful meal. As a bonus, each recipe fondly calls to mind the person and story that brought it to me each time that I make it. This recipe for Apple Cake came to me through "Rachel" (my best friend's bar name, when she didn't want guys to know her real name), which came to her from her mom, Sue. What a boon. Thanks, Sue!

I've made this many times for my in-laws (again, such a negative-sounding word, for such lovely people. Can anyone think of a more positive substitute?), and it is their most-requested treat. Until last week, I made it exactly according to Sue's recipe. Lat weekend, however, I discovered in the last hour that I had only ¼ cup of sugar, not the 1 cup called for. So I substituted brown sugar for the rest, and it turned out wonderfully. From now on, brown sugar it is, even though the darn stuff always gets hard as a rock in my cupboard, and I end up smashing it to bits with whatever happens to be the heaviest item in my kitchen, most likely seriously alarming my neighbors. Worth it. Though if anyone knows of a way to keep brown sugar moist for an extended period of time, please share.

Super Easy Apple Cake

½ cup (1 stick) butter (or Earth Balance if you're milk-free)
1 cup brown sugar (white sugar is also fine)
1 egg
1½ cups whole wheat flour (white is fine)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp salt
2½ cups chopped Granny Smith apples (about 1½ medium-sized apples) (Most should be finely chopped, but I like to leave about ½ cup in slightly larger chunks.)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a bowl, cream butter and sugar.

3. Beat in the egg.

4. Thoroughly stir together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.

5. Add the dry mixture to the butter and sugar mixture a little at a time until well blended.

6. Mix in apples. I find that this easiest to do with my hands. It seems like a whole lot of apples, but, trust me, it works. They make the cake super moist.

7. Put batter into a 9x9x2-inch baking dish.

8. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

For you weird-o milk eaters out there, Sue says to serve this with whipped cream or ice cream, though I don’t think it needs it.


  1. A slice of bread in a airtight container like any tupperware container will keep brown sugar soft forever. Even if the sugar is rock hard, put it in a container with bread and in a day or so it will be soft. It works every time. Any bread will work i think. I usually use the end pieces.

  2. Thanks for the tip! I have a brand new unopened bag of brown sugar. As soon as it gets opened I will add a slice of bread. Good idea to use the butt ends!