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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Get in my belly | Mrs. Olson's Apple Cake (very good)

I have been gifted with one of my granny's (great grandmother) hand-written cook books. A few weeks ago, reminiscing over lunch with my grandmother, she talked about some of the foods her mom used to cook. (In our family the conversation will inevitably turn to food.)  She told me about her favorite cake that her mom used to make. "Mother would always make it on my birthday and wrap it up special. I was so excited because I got a half all to myself. Which was a pretty cool thing in a large family."

When I got home that afternoon I went straight to the little orange notebook containing my granny's recipes.



Some of the soft brown pages are falling out, the penciled hand-writing is fading, and some of the glued on newspaper clippings are loosing their stick. I am ever-so-careful with it.  I discover that the apple cake recipe is indeed in the book - Mrs. Olson's Apple Cake (and in parenthesis a note states that it is very good). It is written in granny's bird-like script. Glee.

I plan straight away to make the cake and surprise my gram with it. The name "Olson", in the recipe tells me it has been passed down from my great-grandfather's side of the family (from North Dakota). Olson is my gram's maiden name. (Edwina Alice Olson, oldest daughter of Edward and Lennie Viola Olson (from Kansas).)

I was a little hesitant to test the recipe. Gram said that my mom tried it once and it didn't turn out well. After reading through the recipe, I note that it's got some odd ingredients for an apple cake: cocoa powder and coffee. Next I see that it bakes at only 225 for an hour. I know that will never work in my oven. I also note that it's got four eggs, but that the egg whites are to be beat until firm. This tells me that the batter will be heavy from the butter and the apples and the whites are needed to lighten it.

So I begin. I make some necessary adjustments - add salt and raise the oven temp to 350 for the first 30 minutes and 325 for the next 30.

Mrs. Olson's Apple Cake (very good)

Ingredients:

1 cup walnuts
1 cup golden raisins
2 cups coarse chopped granny smiths
1 cup cold coffee

Separate eggs. Stiffly beat egg whites.

Sift dry ingredients:
2 1/4 flour (organic, unbleached)
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice

Cream together until fluffy:
1 cup butter (organic, unsalted)
2 cups sugar (organic)

Add egg yolks and beat for 1 minute. Then add coffee (mix in slowly or it will splash everywhere). Then add in the dry ingredients and beat until well combined. Then add the fruit and nuts. Stir in stiffly beaten egg whites.

Grease two glass loaf pans and line with parchment paper in the bottom of the pans. (Original recipe is supposed to make just one. But, I think my Kitchen Aid Mixer is able to beat the batter into a double batch.) Bake at 350 for the first 30 minutes. Then lower temp to 325 and bake for another 25-30 minutes. Cakes will be set and dark brown.

Allow to cool in pans for 15 minutes and turn out onto rack. Let cool for another 20 minutes. Wrap in saran wrap while still warm and let sit over night.

It's also sinfully good (and crunchy on the outside) to just eat it warm.

Enjoy!

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