‘A’ Is For AMAZING Apple Cake!
Salutations, Dear Friends!
Ooh! You are just in time for a steaming ‘cuppa’ of Twinings Lady Grey and a piece of fresh-from-the-oven “Mile-High Apple
Pie Spice Cake”.
Promised in the post “FEBRUARY IS FOR APPLE” – and as some of you have been hinting not-so-subtly 🙂 for the recipe – Voila! I am delighted to be sharing it with you here. My new friend and blog follower Tammy made this cake recently – her dad was smacking his lips! You can see her testimonial under the ‘COMMENTS’ section of that same post.
CINNAMON-APPLE OVEN POTPOURRI…Today is a big baking day! The sweet-and-spicy scent of apples and cinnamon has been wafting from my kitchen since early morning, permeating the entire house. It is the best potpourri on the planet. And, I’m up to my nose in flour making five of these beauties – Yes, 5! ‘The proof-is-in the-pudding’ photos are below, albeit one cake is still baking in the oven…
I am so thankful to have this recipe for so many reasons – one of which may surprise you… I’ll reveal it whilst we sip our tea (by the way, there’s fresh coffee brewing, too – you cannot beat the apple cake and coffee combination). 🙂
This grand cake recipe originally came to me by way of my co-worker Glen who one day very generously brought this delicious cake to our office as a sweet treat – it did not last long. Glen’s wife, Mary, kindly baked it for us all and subsequently shared her recipe with me – Thanks, Glen and Mary! I have been making this wonderful cake many, many times over ever since…
FUNDRAISER TEAS AND BAKESALES I made eight of these lovely apple cakes not so long ago as the finish (served up with whipped cream) to an office Halloween fundraising luncheon. The cake turned out to be a popular menu item! At the time, our company had committed to ‘adopting’ a couple of families from the local Women’s Centre for Christmas (we like to call it ‘Operation Santa Cause’), and the luncheon was part of our plan in getting a head start on the fundraising in order to bring ‘our families’ a very special, and certainly less stressful, holiday season.
I almost always go to my ‘Apple Spice Cake’ recipe for fundraiser teas, bakesales, even flea markets. Since presentation and convenience go a long way at these events, I layer generously thick slices atop one another in oversized, old-fashioned clear-glass jars with glass lids. I have my tongs handy to remove each delectable slice from the jars, slip them into parchment bags/squares and they’re good to go…If you have a coffee station set up nearby (or even an ice cream table with someone serving up scoops of vanilla ice cream) you have a sure-fire way to raise funds. People’s mouths water when they see it and it always sells out. Not only does ‘Apple Spice Cake’ taste scrumptiously good – that homey comforting kind of good – it makes a large volume (serves 10-14) and slices like a dream…
‘LOVIN’ FROM THE OVEN’ AND STREET REACH On this day, I am a wearing my ‘Serious Baker’ apron…baking to feed clients of Street Reach – a community outreach organization whose programs aim to help our vulnerable youth (generally between the ages of 15 and 29) who live a harsh life on the streets. When I bake this tasty cake for Street Reach* clients, I like to serve it up in thick wedges and place each chunky slice in its own zip-lock sandwich bag, keeping it fresh and making it easier for volunteers to distribute to individuals.
STREET REACH WALKERS Since its inception over six years ago, Street Reach’s specially trained volunteers strap on backpacks* and walk the streets of our downtown core, distributing to our street youth *convenient snacks, personal care items, condoms, and resource cards plus more.
AS THE DOORS OF THE RED CROSS VAN CLOSE, THE DOORS OF A NEW DROP-IN CENTRE OPEN Over the past five years, you may have seen a Red Cross van parked on downtown streets Tuesday and Thursday nights and wondered about its purpose – Street Reach’s highly-skilled volunteers were (and still are*) distributing hot beverages/soup, snacks and baked goods 🙂 – their primary purpose is to connect clients with the appropriate resources and support services to help meet their complex needs in assisting them to get them off the streets and back on their feet as well-functioning members of society.
*As STREET REACH comes into its sixth year, however, they no longer use the Red Cross Van (it was a tremendous asset). They have recently opened a new location in the downtown – a convenient drop-in centre.
The new site offers comfortable, warm, dry surroundings for youth – no more standing around outside in the cold – as well as for the volunteers who are continuing to offer valuable outreach services that include the provision of basic care items, a needle exchange program, condoms, referrals and resource cards. In addition to more drop-in times, partnering with other support services is also possible through the new centre.
In the meantime, volunteer ‘Street Reach Walkers’ keep walking. They continue to go out two nights a week seeking out “street-entrenched” youth, hooking them up with the resources that can help them get off the streets.
Street Reach comes under the auspices of the Community Youth Network who offer a number of complex, comprehensive and wide-ranging street youth-targeted programs, including job training and employment opportunities.
‘Thank You’ to everyone involved with Street Reach and the Community Youth Network for the admirable work that you do every day on behalf of our at-risk youth.
“Today, give a stranger one of your smiles. It might be the only sunshine he sees all day.”
~ Quoted in P.S. I Love You, compiled by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
WHAT CAN I DO? We’ve probably all questioned at one time or another…“What can I do – I’m only one person?” Even, as individuals, there is surely something that each of us can do to help make a difference – just take a moment or two to really think about it…
IT ALL STARTED WITH AN ‘APPLE SEED’ OF AN IDEA…Some years back, while getting dressed for work one morning, I was listening to our local CBC Radio Morning Show. The show’s host was interviewing a lovely, kind woman who had been “knitting up a storm” to help the homeless. She was asked how it all started…
WHAT A SHAME She explained that her husband had seen a CBC Television news item wherein a Street Reach spokesperson had relayed a story about a man who had approached their ‘street van’ one night and asked only for a cap to keep his head warm – it was a cold night and regrettably there was none to give him. The woman’s husband remarked later that evening at the dinner table that it was a shame there wasn’t a cap to give the poor man. That’s when the thought hit her, “I can knit!” (Apparently, she is quite an expert knitter). “I’m going to start knitting winter caps – as many as I can!” She commented to the radio host that she would feel so proud to see someone wearing one of her ‘trademark’ caps with the knowledge that she had helped someone who needed it. And, so, the woman began to knit, and knit, and knit…When word got out, the idea soon caught on like a house on fire – friends, neighbours, as well as strangers, joined in. They took up the cause and
banded ‘knitted together’. Within a short period of time, the woman was able to present to Street Reach over 100 beautifully hand-knitted caps and pairs of gloves! She was only one person but – with the help of the many kind souls whom she inspired – she was able to accomplish much! People generally want to help, they need only to know how. Don’t hesitate to ask any charitable organization or community group what is needed, and you may be inspired as to what you can do…
WHEN YOU DO GOOD, YOU FEEL GOOD…And, so, that precious woman’s story inspired me and got me thinking, “What could I do to help in some small way?! Surely, there must be something…” The more I thought about it, I realized maybe there is something after all – like the woman who could knit – “I could bake!” I began to prepare what I like to call “Comfort Breads”- blueberry, partridgeberry, apple, and gingerbreads….People love and appreciate a home-baked treat….And, why not the clients of Street Reach? ( I was thrilled right down to my toes when the goodies were well received and volunteers began to ask for the recipe.)
SOCK IT TO ME, SOCK IT TO ME, SOCK IT TO ME…The ‘Comfort Breads‘ proved to be such a hit, that again it got me thinking…People are on their feet a lot when they live on the street… And, it wasn’t too long before the ‘Sock Drive’ was born! With the help of my many kind and generous co-workers (office staff, bus drivers, maintenance crew, bus mechanics and board members) – over 100 + pairs (I soon lost count) of brand new, beautiful socks were donated to Street Reach at a time when they were, indeed, needed!
When I recently walked through the door of Street Reach’s new Drop-In Centre with my arms full of ‘Comfort Breads’, Angie Decker, the Street Reach Program Co-Coordinator – although at first, she could not recall my name -immediately recognized my face and happily exclaimed, “The Sock Lady!” We shared a laugh and it made my day! These are not heroic acts by any stretch of the imagination, but every time we do something – anything, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant – to help our communities, everyone benefits and we help ourselves, too. (Bringing a little joy to someone else is a very motivating factor in volunteerism…)
VOLUNTEER WEEK CHALLENGE – Volunteer Week is April 10th -16th.
Using this blog as a medium, I am challenging each of you – my ‘Beautiful Ideas Readers’ – to “DO GOOD. FEEL GOOD. ”
Why not initiate a ‘Sock Drive’ (beautiful, brand new socks) amongst your family, friends, and neighbours; or at your place of work, school, or church; or your dance troop, card group, tea circle – wherever people gather! A ‘Sock Drive’ is something that doesn’t take a lot of work and doesn’t cost a lot – Most people can easily pick up an extra pair of socks to donate while they’re out running errands.
Or, organize a ‘Basic Care Drive’ – Provide your team a list of toiletries they could choose to donate and assemble ‘Basic Care Kits’, using large plastic zip-lock bags. Items to include per kit: toothpaste, toothbrush, soap bar, shampoo, razor, shaving cream, feminine products, comb/hair brush and, of course, socks…Consider encouraging people to use their ‘Shoppers Optimum Points’ to purchase some of these items.
There is something that each of us can do. All you have to do is ask! If your choice is to help Street Reach, you can contact them to find out what their greatest needs are and how you can help. Call them at 754-0536.
And, when you do collect your socks and/or toiletries and deliver them to Street Reach, by all means, please tell them ‘The Sock Lady’ sent you – Wouldn’t it be fun to learn just how many pairs of socks were generated through this ‘Beautiful post’ ???!!! ___________________________________________________________
NOW, WHERE WERE WE?!
‘Apple Spice Cake’ is one of my favourite ‘go-to’ recipes as it’s a substantial, moist, flavourful cake and so easy to make – a one-bowl mix and there’s no need to even take out the electric mixer! Just get yourself a cutting board, large mixing bowl (plus a smaller one for the apples) and a wooden spoon. Bake it in a well-greased tube pan or a large bundt pan (I use PAM baking spray). Loaf pans will work, too, but you’ll likely have to adjust the oven temperature and watch the loaves carefully.
It’s the perfect cake, too, for a pot-luck or get-together, and one that brings lots of compliments! I guarantee if you like apples and cinnamon, you will looove ‘Mile-High Apple Spice Cake’!
WE ARE HERE TO ADD WHAT WE CAN TO LIFE, NOT GET WHAT WE CAN FROM IT – William Olser
PIE SPICE CAKE RECIPE
- 6 apples, peeled and cubed (MacIntosh are good)
- 2 + teaspoons cinnamon (or to taste, I tend to use 3 teaspoons)
- 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 4 extra-large eggs
- 1/4 cup orange juice (freshly squeezed without pulp is best)
- 3 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla (or seeds scraped from 2 vanilla pods,* see the ‘how-to’ post below)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Combine cinnamon and 5 tablespoons sugar, sprinkle apples with mixture and set aside.
- Mix all remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl and beat with a wooden spoon (do not use the mixer) until batter is smooth. NOTE: The batter will be thick.
- Pour half the batter into a well-greased tube or bundt pan.
- Arrange half the apple mixture over top of the batter.
- Pour the remaining batter into pan, spread to the edges, and top with the remaining apples.
- Bake in preheated oven at 350°Farenheit for approximately 1 hour (NOTE: In my (slow) oven it takes 1 1/2 hours, so the baking times may vary depending on your oven*), or until a toothpick/cake tester comes out clean.
- Allow the cake to sit in the pan for 10 minutes and then turn it out of the pan to let cool on a cake rack.
A COUPLE OF BAKING TIPS:
Although it had been awhile since I first brought this cake to Street Reach, Angie Decker, Street Reach’s Program Co-Coordinator remarked that she had made my recipe, but that her cake did not turn out as good as the ones that I had made. I’ve been thinking about this since she mentioned it, and I’ve come up with a few hints that may make a difference:
- Prepare your apples (peel and cube) last. Six apples per one cake recipe is a lot, and while the apples sit in the bowl, they are releasing their juices. So, after you toss them in the mixture of cinnamon and sugar, be sure to drain them first before adding them to the batter. Do not add their juices – if you do add the juices along with the apples, it may make the cake too moist and it will likely take forever to bake.
- * Having said that, my (new) oven is not the same temperature as my old oven (which I considered to be very accurate and reliable) and I have found it necessary at times to adjust the baking time for some recipes. Although the ‘Apple Spice Cake Recipe’ calls for 1 hour of baking time – or until toothpick inserted comes out clean – in my own oven, the baking time is more like 1 hour and 25-30 minutes…
APPLE SPICE CAKE SERVING SUGGESTIONS:
- Serve this delicious cake just as it is warm and fresh from the oven! Serve warm with a scoop of very-vanilla ice cream with just a sift of cinnamon over top, if desired.
- Or, let rest at room temperature and sift confectioners’ (icing) sugar over top before serving.
- NOTE: ‘Apple Spice Cake’ also keeps well for several days at room temperature, and it freezes well, too.
- For an extra touch of special, reheat each slice in the microwave for 20-25 seconds and serve warm with a dollop of whipped cream.
- Or, FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO MUST HAVING ICING, top with mounds of Cream Cheese frosting (even though you’ll be covering those lovely bits of apple on top) – However you slice it, it will surely be delish!
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
- 1/2 cup of butter (1 stick), room temperature
- 8 oz of cream cheese (1 package), room temperature
- 2 – 3 cups of powdered (confectioners’) sugar
- 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla
With an electric mixer on medium speed, mix the butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Add the vanilla and mix. Slowly add the powdered sugar, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure even mixing. Keep adding powdered sugar until desired sweetness and thickness is achieved. Spread over top of cake with a small spatula.
YUMMY IN THE TUMMY!!! I CROWN YOU ‘THE APPLE CAKE DIVA’
Well, my lovelies, I hope you delight in this apple cake. Doesn’t the smell of apples and cinnamon take you back to your mother and grandmother’s kitchens…
WHY NOT BAKE IT UP AS A ‘SWEET GIFT’ FOR A SENIOR (EVEN AT A SENIORS’ HOME, STAFF WILL LOVE IT, TOO). OR, BRING IT AS A GIFT TO ANYONE WHO COULD USE A LITTLE ‘APPLE CHEER’ IN THEIR DAY. 🙂
Join the conversation and leave a comment. I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Especially when you make a recipe that you’ve seen at ‘Beautiful Ideas’, I love knowing how it turned out!
And, be sure to let us know what you’re doing for Volunteer Week – you just might inspire someone else…Ya never know!
I look forward to your returning for another visit – although the cake will be long gone by then, so you had probably better bake your own and maybe one for a friend who could use a little ‘spice’ in their life, too :-)… See you soon!
Wishing you a beautiful day,