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(post, Cara Montgomery)
For some reason, this is the year that I am Apple Cake crazy. That is not to say I am not enamored of the ever popular apple crisp/ crumble, among the great deserts of all times. I have made one of these this year, with apples brought back to Florida, at much inconvenience , from a Labor Day weekend in St. Paul and Minneapolis. St. Paul is my favorite city because my son lives there and he very kindly drives us around all the food and flower, garden and bakery sites I can find. One of my favorite St. Paul experiences- the St. Paul Farmers Market with it's dazzle of heirloom tomatoes, apples galore, incomparable dahlias, apple donuts, strange Humong vegetables, unusual garlic and much more. This is an irresistible market- and it is just outside James', my son's ,loft window. On this visit we went to go to the Mill City Farmers Market, which we enjoyed and turned into an excursion to the Flour Museum. But this blog is about apples, and everywhere, apples are what we found. I seemed to buy multiple variates but was quite impressed with the Golden Gingers and the Zestar's , both of which went into the apple crisp. A wonderful find was the Apple House, sponsored by the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum and just around the corner from it. It is open only for apple season and they sell the variates, including unnamed ones, that are developed at the Arboretum, as well as apple gadgets and frozen pies and crisps. How nice to have an Apple House in one's community. At any rate, those apples disappeared before I could start on the cakes. Macintosh looked quite good in the market, so I made the recipe for "Mimi's German Apple Cake", p. 124 of "Rustic Fruit Deserts" by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson. It has lots of lemon rind, which gave it a wonderful flavor. The apples were a good choice as they got soft, but not mushy and kept their shape. Warm with Sonnyfield Farms Vanilla Ice Cream, the cake met criteria for simple to prepare, delivering a lot of flavor. It was nice to have something with apple that didn't have nuts as walnuts or pecans are such a natural pairing and a crisp without nuts doesn't seem very crispy. All of the recipes in "Rustic Fruit Desserts" that I have tried have been total winners. Next on my Apple Cake list will be the recipe I found today on Zoe Bakes http://www.zoebakes.com . A Minneapolis based baker, she has the most alluring looking desserts on her web site, with good pictures and clear directions. Her apple cake has a layer of pears that I will skip, but I'll definitely go for the Calvados Carmel topping. It's a big ,silky looking Bundt cake- can't wait. The perfect apple cake seems to me like the little black (or in my case, navy) dress, the perfect pearl necklace, the perfectly cut sheath - all classics. I will continue to reflect on the Apple Cakes as I try them- if not now, in season, when?