Apple Cake

This cake broke my heart.

It baked in the oven for a full hour and a half, filling my apartment with the enchanting, homey scent of apples and cinnamon and whiskers on kittens. With such a glorious aroma perfuming my home, I was convinced it would emerge from the oven absolutely perfect. When the timer finally rang, I was horrified to find, well, a mess.

The cake batter bubbled over the sides of the pan and dripped in messy, brown glops down to the cookie sheet underneath (thank goodness for the cookie sheet!). The remaining edges were done when the timer rang, but the center was completely raw.

Still, I have a really hard time calling this dessert a failure. The truth is it was delicious – sweet and moist, with crispy-chewy, golden brown edges. I made it for Handsome Greg’s birthday dinner, and we all loved it. Well, we loved the parts that were baked through. We ate the edges then put the center back in the oven to finish baking it through, about 40 minutes.

And the failure? Is my fault. The original recipe from Smitten Kitchen is perfect. I wanted desperately to follow it as written, but I didn’t have a tube pan, so I used a 9 x 13. And that was my downfall. I read the many reviews that said, “Oh, I made this in a 9 x 13-inch pan, and it came out perfectly.” I’m convinced those bakers have not only raw, runny apple cake, but also pants on fire.

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Tangerine Sorbet

In the middle of dreary winter, Clementine tangerines are a sign of hope, like pretty, orange light bulbs illuminating the shortest days of the year. In a festive wooden crate!

Winter in Minnesota this year was especially brutal; the snow came early and often, and lingered until the bitter, sub-zero end.

Look, it’s not that I wasn’t comforted by stewed apples (and apple crisp and apple pie and apple crostata) all winter long… but by the time I (finally) made Mom’s birthday dinner in February, the bright, sunshiny taste of citrus combined with the icy texture of my favorite summer treat was like, um, Christmas in July.

The sorbet was very tart, sour even, and incredibly refreshing. Next time I’ll likely add another 1/4 cup of sugar, but it was delicious as is. The tiny amount of alcohol in the orange liqueur (I used Grand Marnier) kept it creamy and smooth.

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