applesIt was a weird year in our garden… warm enough to ripen the tomatoes well into October. Last month, onions, garlic, and other assorted produce overflowed the garage, tomatoes were piling up in the kitchen, and my to-do-list was getting pretty long.

With this weighing on my mind, I was delighted when I found a reprint in Down East Magazine of an E.B. White piece from 1941 entitled, Memorandum, a list of things the writer ought to do on his farm along the coast of Maine. His amusing notes on his many chores filled pages of promises to himself but, at the end of his ramblings, he realized that it was four o’clock in the afternoon and he was still at his typewriter! I could relate. There are days like that…

I, too, am a master of procrastination. My husband reminds me to think like a farmer, meaning to make hay while the sun shines; but somehow, I often get my priorities mixed up. Thus, on a recent glorious morning, I was not fall-cleaning in the garden, not simmering sauce or canning and preserving, I was on the road to one of my favorite orchards. Our newly planted fruit trees are infants and minimally productive. By contrast, this well-established orchard in Gouldsboro is a veritable Garden of Eden! Pears, peaches plums, grapes, and apples of every variety both familiar and exotic grace the manicured property. The trees are ladened with such beautiful fruit that a camera is a necessity.

In addition to their lovely settings and luscious produce, I find that people who nurture orchards are an extremely knowledgable and generous lot with a real passion for their work. As often as not, I come away with apples and a harvest of growing tips. Happily, once again, I returned with a beautiful batch of Honeycrisp apples and Asian pears along with some timely advise on protecting our young trees.

Adding to my to-do list, I vowed to make an apple cake as soon as possible. What was that about making hay? Oh, well… I’d had my wonderful orchard experience on a gorgeous autumn day and I would have apple cake with my coffee in the morning. It’s a delicious fall treat that always reminds me of a dear aunt who would whirl into our kitchen on Thanksgiving Day armed with this cake and her hilarious stories.

It’s an easy recipe that takes only minutes to assemble and an hour to bake. It’s great breakfast treat to feed a crowd at your own Thanksgiving get together. Or, try it warm with vanilla ice cream for dessert!

Aunt Ann’s Apple Cake

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups cubed apples
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup corn oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Sift dry ingredients together. Stir in apples and nuts. Beat eggs and other wet ingredients until foamy. Pour over the dry ingredients and mix well. Bake in a 9” x 15” pan at 350 degrees for about 60 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream for dessert or with coffee as a breakfast bread.

As it cools, this cake forms a delectable, crunchy “crust”. Refrain from covering the leftovers, if possible, as sealing the crispy edge will make it soggy.

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