THE GREAT APPLE CAKE

Spiced Apple Coffee Loaf Cake | for the love of the south

I’m in love with the autumn weather in my new home state of Tennessee. I relish in the leaves as they wave to me from their boughs, showing off their blazing reds, vibrant oranges and luminous yellows. As Michael and I take our daily jaunt into downtown Franklin, leaves shower from the trees above, frolic and play for a whisper of a moment in the breeze and collect around our worn leather boots.

Spiced Apple Coffee Cake | for the love of the south

Morning times are filled with wonder and beauty as fog gracefully laces the paths between rolling emerald fields peppered with bales of hay and cows enjoying their morning graze. Trees with arms like scarecrows bend and bow and give way to the weight of apples, which are scattered at its roots like a piñata with it’s stuffing knocked out. Pumpkin fields are dotted with jade foliage and lurid orange pumpkins. Farmers markets overflow with spotty gourds, ice blue pumpkins, rainbow hues of Indian corn and luscious, sharp apples. I have never lived so far north where there were so many varieties of apples at the farmers markets. I plunged the apple cartons and brought a beautiful bounty home to my cozy Tennessee loft.

Farmers Market Pumpkin | for the love of the south

I stare outside at the fiery leaves, wondering what I should make with my glut of apples. I gaze at my afternoon coffee and realize I want an apple coffee cake. I begin whisking together flour, eggs, fresh pressed apple juice and toss the fresh apples and spicy cinnamon in my trusty cast iron skillet and baked it till golden brown. I sit quite content with my apple cake in one hand and coffee in another, being entertained by the pirouetting of leaves outside my window. There’s no place I’d rather be than my cozy corner in Tennessee.

Fall Coffee | for the love of the south

Recipe: Spiced Apple Coffee Cake

Makes 1 10” Cake or 1 Loaf Cake

Note: I have made this cake in a loaf pan, cast-iron skillet and a cake pan, and it came out beautiful every time. For the loaf cake, I diced the apples and allowed the cake to cook a few minutes longer. For the skillet and cake pan, I sliced the apples and fanned them out on the pan.

Butter or vegetable oil, to grease pan

12 ounces of peeled, cored and diced apples (or sliced if you prefer)

1 ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon

½ cup of granulated sugar, plus 2 ½ tablespoons, divided

1 ½ cup of flour, plus 2 tablespoons

1 ½ teaspoons of baking powder

½ teaspoon of salt

½ cup of brown sugar

1 stick (1/2 cup) of butter, melted and cooled

2 tablespoons of pure pressed apple juice

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

2 eggs

Powdered sugar, to finish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease a 10” skillet with butter or vegetable oil. Set aside.

Toss diced apples, ground cinnamon and 2 ½ tablespoons granulated sugar together in a medium-sized bowl.

Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.

Whisk the remaining ½ cup of granulated sugar, ½ cup of brown sugar, melted butter, apple juice, vanilla extract and eggs together in a medium-sized bowl. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, making sure all of the components are well combined.

Pour half of the batter into the greased skillet. The batter will be very thick so you may need to use an offset spatula to even out the batter in the pan. Spread half of the apples over the batter. Pour the remaining batter over the apples and top with the remaining apples and whatever liquid was released from the apples.

Bake for 1-1 ½ hours or until a tester comes out clean. Cool on a rack and transfer onto a plate and dust with powdered sugar. Enjoy!

Walking Through Corn Stalks | for the love of the south

The Giving Pear Tree & Me

When I was a tot, there was a special place I would go to like clockwork whenever autumn would arrive. There, sitting on the edge of our property, was a pear tree waiting morning after morning for me like the most reliable of companions. Its leaves began to give way to the season and break with the breeze, like linking chains being severed to count down till the days of winter. The jackets of the fruit reflected the season with pale shades of buttery green and deep hues of burgundy. Its skin, vulnerable and speckled, much like the freckles on my nose. Imperfect perfection.

But I was not the only member of the family that adored these little gems. The dirt around the base of the tree was littered with partially eaten fruit and the finger pointed to one direction, our Dalmatian, Penny. She was quite fond of pears as well. Playing fetch with pears and Penny was fruitless because she devoured the little autumnal nuggets and ne’er returned.

In these mornings, I beat her to the giving tree, but in a matter of moments, I could hear her panting and whining over the fact I had hoarded all of the ripened fruit. In my thickest Cajun accent I would yell, “Noooo Penny, these are myyyy pears!” She sat beside me quietly, licking my sticky fingers while sweet nectar dribbled from my chin. After my feast, I got up, patted the auburn leaves off my denim shorts and put my arm around the trunk of the tree as a farewell gesture, thanking it for the adoring autumn pear.

Recipe: Inspired by Minimally Invasive & Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Serves 8

Roasted Pears:

4 Pears

2 tablespoons of lemon juice

2 tablespoons of water

1 tablespoon of sugar

2 tablespoons of butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 3750

Cut pears in half lengthwise and core center. Place the pear halves cut side up onto a baking dish. Pour the lemon juice and water into the dish, sprinkle with sugar and dot the tops of the pears with butter. Place in the oven for 30 minutes. Flip the pears over and bake for another 30 minutes. You will know when they are ready whenever you can pierce the pear with a knife with no resistance.

Spiced Cream:

2 cups of heavy whipping cream

1 teaspoon of vanilla

1 teaspoon of cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling

½ teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice

2 tablespoons of sugar

Combine all ingredients in a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whisk all ingredients together until stiff peaks form. Transfer the cream to the fridge until ready to use.

To Plate:

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

2 tablespoons of honey

Place cream at the bottom of the serving dish. Place 1 pear half per person onto plate. Sprinkle with cinnamon and drizzle with honey.

Spiced Cream & Warm Thoughts

Long days begin to shorten once again. Earth cools and the leaves begin the burn with various shades of amber. Frigid air stings at my nose, not a painful prick, but an invigorating bite. An awakening of the soul, of something new to come.

A season of warmth, not of stifling temperatures, but of soothing comfort.  Here is to flushed cheeks, snug, cozy deer sweaters, your grandma’s warm apple pie, hot chocolate billowing with marshmallows and fireplaces calmly crackling in the background. Let us cast off the busyness of the summer and embrace the joyous tranquility that comes as the gift of autumn.

This spiced ice cream is like a perfect fall day: chilly and frosty but speckled with cinnamon and nutmeg that warms the heart. So go ahead, bring out the scarves, stock up on tea and break out the plaid. It’s here. It’s autumn.

“Behold the old is gone, the new has come”-2 Corinthians 5:17

Recipe: Makes 1 Quart

6 egg yolks

½ cup of brown sugar

2 cups of heavy whipping cream

1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice

1 tablespoon of cinnamon

In a small saucepan, heat the whipping cream and spices to a simmer. While the cream is coming up to a simmer, whisk the yolks and sugar together until thick. While continuously whisking, slowly pour the hot cream into the egg yolk mixture. Once all of the ingredients are incorporated, transfer to a double boiler (or a bowl over a pot of simmering water) and stir continuously until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 8 minutes.) Let the mixture cool in the refrigerator until fully chilled. Transfer the base to an ice cream machine and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to a container and let ice cream set completely for at least 2 more hours.