Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Unbridled Failure of Apple Cake

                What is so challenging about an apple cake? It is basically a cake with some apples tossed in. I can make a cake (previous post to the contrary, I know). I can peel and chop an apple. Seriously, I feel as if I’ve failed at finger painting, or bead-stringing.
                If 90% of life is showing up, then all my failure is crammed into the final 10%. Because I showed up. I really showed up. People were talking.
                One friend, on whom I forced one failure after another, kept asking, “What’s the cake for?” sounding increasingly alarmed.  
                I considered and discarded Canadian Thanksgiving, October 8th, Columbus Day, also October 8th, Leif Erikson Day, October 9th, Tunisian Evacuation Day, October 15th, (this seemed like a good candidate until this friend pointed out that apple cake probably isn’t traditional evacuation fare). I settled on Simchat Torah, October 9th.
 ‘This holiday [Simchat Torah] is characterized by utterly unbridled joy, which surpasses even the joy of Sukkot. The joy reaches its climax on Simchat Torah, when we celebrate the conclusion – and restart – of the annual Torah-reading cycle.’
                Utterly Unbridled Joy calls for Apple Cake.
                I don’t want to lower the tone from unbridled joy to unbridled despair, but I must. I’ve included a chart to perk things up. Which just shows you how bad things are.
                Four Star Desserts’ Morning Apple Cake. Once again, it didn’t bake all the way through, despite my following the recipe and then doubling the baking time.
                Grand Central Baking’s Cream Cheese Apple Cake. I had high hopes for this one; ½ lb of butter and ¾ lb of cream cheese? My cardiologist was dizzy. The texture was gummy and the flavor was pretty good but too subtle.
                Ripe’s Apple Marmalade Cake. It is made with ww flour and half the sugar of the rest, and the best thing that can be said is that it is healthy, as in good-for-you.
                I added the Silver Palate Chunky Walnut Apple cake to the chart as well as a Food & Wine Apple Cider Cake that I have liked in the past.


4 star
2 1/3 C
½ lb
1 2/3 C

Grand central
3 C
½ lb butter
¾ lb crm chs
2 ½ C
1 ¼ lbs (3-4)

Silver palate
3 C
1 ½ C oil
2 C
3 ¼ C

½ lb butter
1 C
7 oz.

Food & Wine
12 oz butter
1.5 lb (3 large)

                The fat to flour ratio seems pretty consistent. Other than that weird outlier from Ripe, the amount of sugar doesn’t vary much either. I’m seeing an issue with the apples, specifically the amount of apples, even more specifically, the expression of the amount of apples. For reasons that those of you who are enjoying this foray into charts can probably determine, but that I can’t, the Four Star Dessert’s Apple Morning Cake has the best flavor. It also has the most irresponsible apple amount. Five apples? You may as well ask for a big handful of sugar and enough flour to fill the cat’s water bowl. Five apples could produce a cup and half of shredded apple or six cups of shredded apple which is closer to the amount I folded in. No wonder it didn’t bake. I’d have more luck baking a quart of cider.
                If you are waiting for a happy ending, you’ll have to be content with beginning again with the Torah. There is no happy ending. I still haven’t made a good apple cake. But November 6 is Marooned Without  A Compass Day. And the 11th is Veterans Day. Both seem suitable for another attempt. 
               Love, Margaret

PS The happy accident that came from all this is my discovery of caramel whipped cream. Make some caramel sauce and allow it to cool. Partially whip some heavy cream, then add some of the caramel and finish whipping the cream. It seems like it will be a disaster and could never properly emulsify and then it does and OMG is it transporting, transcendent, trance inducing. I was entranced. You will be too.

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