Monday, December 15, 2008

Apple Cake

Neither J nor I are particularly fond of apples and yet we've had a small bag of them lying around the house for days. I take one to work and bring it back uneaten and return it to the bag to try again another day. Finally, in desperation this past Sunday, I decided to do something with the apples. After looking around Epicurious with J for apple cake recipes which we found too complicated, I settled for something that looked simple enough for a very novice baker like myself with J as the assistant.

For the first time today, I was able to get a cake out of the oven that looked and tasted like one. I could not help making some minor tweaks to the ingredients - instead of cinnamon, I used the same quantity of allspice, clove and nutmeg powders mixed together. The walnuts were replaced by chopped almonds and pecans. Since there were five ripe apples in the mix and a whole bunch of sugar, I added a little kosher salt to dampen the cloying sweetness.

J was very pleased with herself for taking me through the steps and getting a decent looking and tasting cake for her efforts. The moral of the day's baking story is to start simple with the humblest of ingredients and very modest ambitions, get a good and willing helper to keep you on track. Finally, send a prayer up to heaven for good luck as you set your cake to bake.

If you suffer from a compulsion to improvise, limit yourself to modifying some of the supporting
ingredients and not the main ones . I believe a combination of all that led to success with the apple cake made from scratch at that. When you think about it, this how-to is not that different from what it takes to achieve success in any challenging endeavor in life.

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