Baking Barefoot – Apple Cinnamon White Cake

It’s a lazy little Saturday and I was padding around barefoot this morning (because it still feels like summer and it’s warm outside), dying for fall to arrive*, when I found a sweet recipe for a seemingly simple apple cinnamon white  cake that seemed perfect for today – a little something to bring on that fall feeling in the absence of actual fall temperatures. Plus, I had apples that I bought for some reason I no longer remember and needed to get rid of them before they went bad**.

*And by “arrive”, I mean for the weather to be cooler than 75 degrees on any given day so I can wear my favorite riding boots without sweating.
**Which is where most of my kitchen inspiration comes from: An attempt to resuscitate almost-expired items in my fridge or cupboard before
they move toward the light. I’m like the Dr. Quinn of foodstuffs.

In any case, as you likely know, I’m a bit of an impatient baker* so – surprise, surprise! – I might have combined the first and second steps of the directions  (evidence below), which made me burst out laughing, because… well, what else is there to do? I forged ahead anyway.

*Or, I don’t read directions.

Recipe below (modified slightly from Jinglebells’ original recipe):

Ingredients

  • 1/3 C brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 C white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 C milk
  • 1 apple, peeled and chopped

Directions (follow more closely than I)

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Grease and flour a 9×5-inch loaf pan (this is where the Crisco comes in handy)
  • Mix brown sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl. (Note: important for the remainder of the recipe. Don’t combine this step as I did.)
  • Beat white sugar and butter together in a bowl using until creamy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time; add vanilla extract.
  • Combine flour and baking powder together in a bowl; stir into butter mixture. Mix milk into batter until smooth. Pour half the batter into the prepared loaf pan; add half the apples and half the brown sugar mixture. Pat apple mixture into batter. Pour the remaining batter over apple layer; top with remaining apples and brown sugar mixture. Lightly pat apples into batter; swirl brown sugar mixture through apples using a finger or spoon. (I missed the swirling step, too, but the cinnamon mixed through still adds that kicky little sweet spice to the cake.)
  • Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes.
Chopped Apples and Peeler on Cutting Board

the recipe didn’t specify, so i used fuji apples. which are delicious.

 

Crisco Can

i’m old school. i still like to have a can of crisco on hand, always (i bake like my mother).

Baking Bowl

perhaps the sugars weren’t supposed to be added together with the butter from the beginning. maybe they were supposed to be separate. maybe.

Baylor With Pig's Ear

little dogs must be occupied to prevent severe boredom while baking. a disgusting, greasy pig’s ear does the trick nicely.

Apple Cake and Fork

despite the initial mixup, the end product is pretty delicious.

Apple Cake in Baking Pan

recipe success!

Success: Something about the smell of sweet goodness in the oven really does make today feel a little more like fall. And something about enjoying the taste of that goodness with a steaming cup of coffee and a happy little dog chewing his bone in the background makes a house feel like a home.

Happy Saturday.

Sunday With Bay

Today didn’t start out as the most delightful day.

First of all, it’s Sunday, and Sundays are always tough because I’ve finally realized* that regardless of age, whether 17 or 30-something, Sundays are a school night. Which is a disappointment, because in all your youthful naivety as a child, dreaming about the wonderful world of adulthood, you think you’ll be able to leave some of your responsibilities behind when you leave school and leave the nest, only to discover that you trade book reports for quarterly reports and at some point, when true responsibility smacks you in the face you realize that being an adult is not all that dissimilar to being a child, except that you can buy as much soda as you want without asking permission and in some cases, your parents’ advice might not have been so lame after all. Adult Sundays, much like childhood Sundays, are full of responsibility. The respite of the weekend is over, and the rat race of the real world looms ahead.

*Accepted.

Sundays, in short, can be stressful.

This Sunday in particular started off on the wrong foot entirely, as I woke up later than I’d intended* with a laundry list of to-do’s in mind, including getting out of the house since I’d spent Friday (luxuriously) relaxing at home and Saturday (miserably) lying around , fighting off either some manner of mild flu or food poisoning** and basically wasting a perfectly gorgeous California summer day feeling sick. Today (recuperated) I was STIR CRAZY but didn’t feel like I had quite enough time to take a long drive to the ocean as I wanted to***.

*God forbid I allow myself to sleep in for no good reason other than…to sleep.
**Friday night’s fish tacos may have been the culprit, although they were totally, totally worth it at the time.
**Not with a checklist running through my head like a bomb: do laundry, wash dishes, pay bills, work, walk dog, clean car, read news, return clothes, tick tick tick tick tick…

In lieu of the coast – an hour+ drive away in any direction – I opted to find a local park for both Bay and I, something I’ve done a handful of times at most since I’ve lived here in the past year (because, when the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean could be right in front of you, why would you settle for a slough?).

After some quick Internet research (thank you, Yelpers) I found a park that was close enough to not take the whole day, allowed dogs and seemed to have some kind of water views, so we ended up at Bedwell Bayfront Park in Menlo Park, bordering the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge and the unique salt evaporation ponds.

The park doesn’t look like much, except that when you arrive, you might see egrets stalking quietly in the marsh, or any of over 160 other species of birds. And hiking to the top of the rolling hills, you might be surprised at the expansive views of the park, the wetlands and the salt ponds, and upon descending down into the center of the park, with the hills creating a barrier from the freeway, even more surprised at the quiet and serenity.

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My old dog couldn’t make it very far, but it was far enough for us to have finally enjoyed simply being OUT this weekend, exploring new terrain and discovering another place in the Bay to call ours.

So, as with many things that start poorly, my Sunday ended up being delightful instead of stressful, and – even in this small adventure – wonderfully memorable. In 5 years I’ll never remember how much laundry I completed on this Sunday, but I’ll certainly remember a happy little hike with my happy little dog.

At the end of the day, isn’t that what life is all about?