We have one small empire apple tree in our front yard, which happens to grow, somewhat lopsidedly, in perfect view of my office window. That means that most years I get to watch the squirrels enjoy much of the fruit it bears, which is OK because normally the apples are small and gnarly and only provide a few human mouthfuls each at best.
This fall, however, the tree has outdone itself and, for some reason, the squirrels have left a lot for us. The apples are decent sized, crisp and perfectly tart-sweet. In addition to enjoying them fresh off the tree, I’ve made applesauce, apple crisp and my favorite quick supper of roasted sausages, potatoes, onions and apples. I’ve even mailed a half-dozen, carefully wrapped, to our oldest son who just started college out of state.
I’ve heard that this year, despite (or perhaps because of) its waterlogged start, has delivered a bonanza tree fruit harvest. A friend has been bringing me local plums from a grower named Horace Clark in Milton (he also had a bumper crop of peaches this year), as well as pears from her own tree.
Casting around for something else quick and easy to do with all the fruit, I remembered this lovely, moist apple cake recipe we ran a few years ago in the Cooking in Season column. With a bowl of beautiful plums on my counter begging to be used, I ended up skipping the raisins and made it with apples and diced plums (also unpeeled) and it was wonderful. I think next I might make it with a combination of apples and pears.
The only downside to our own personal apple tree bounty is that, as my younger son noted sadly, we don’t really need to go to an orchard for our annual fall apple-picking ritual. But I think we’ll just have to go anyway. I’m pretty sure I can figure out what to do with more apples.
Putney Co-Op’s Apple-Pecan Cake
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cups neutral vegetable oil, such as canola
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 small apples, unpeeled, diced into about 1/3-inch cubes to measure about 1 ½ cups
1/2 cup raisins (or sub ½ to 1 cup of diced plums or pears, also unpeeled)
1/2 cup roughly chopped, toasted pecans
Confectioner’s sugar to dust, if desired
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a deep 9-inch spring-form pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder. In a large bowl, mix together oil, sugar, egg and vanilla extract. Stir flour mixture into oil mixture and then fold in apples, raisins and pecans, mixing just until no pockets of flour remain. Scrape batter into prepared pan and spread evenly in pan (batter will be very thick). Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes until cake is golden brown on top and a cake tester comes out clean. Cool cake completely in pan on a rack before removing. Dust with confectioner’s sugar if desired and serve. Cake keeps well at room temperature for a couple of days.
Photo by Melissa Pasanen.