Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Clean-Out-The-Crisper Cake

Late last night, I found myself feeling slightly freaked out and deeply in need of a comforting activity. Obvious choice--bundt cake.

There is something so peaceful about the assembly and baking of a simple plain cake, preferably in the homely clean lines of a bundt pan. As I chop and measure, a calm and concentration sets in, the world settles into manageable categories, and usually by the time I've washed the dishes, the kitchen smells sweet.

Fear of disrupting this zen baking headspace is one of the reasons that I have had my reservations about food-related entrepreneurial ventures, much as I'd like to find a way to make something so enjoyable somewhat lucrative. (I do happily take commissions, though. See here, and here.) This uniquely relaxed and vulnerable state I reach is also responsible for  my entirely irrational and often completely hysterical reactions to the smoke alarm. As Matt said, '...it's yelling at you while you do the thing you do to calm down.'

Well, last night, I needed to go to the baking place. I had a vague idea that I'd like to make a French yogurt cake. Poking around for some fruit to go on top, I came face to face with some other occupants of the crisper drawer--specifically a bag of two month old turnips and beets.  Remembering the success of the beet cake, I decided there was no reason that turnips couldn't take on the moistening role that zucchini and carrots often do, and began to look around on the internet for the right recipe.

I was hunting a recipe that could use what I had in the house (no chocolate, little butter), be made in a bundt pan, and would feature grated or chunked fruit, for which I could substitute my turnips.  I settled on this Apple Cake recipe from Smitten Kitchen. The recipe calls for six chunked apples--I used four, and made up the difference with about a cup of grated turnip and carrot. I also replaced 1/4 cup orange juice with 1/4 cup lemon juice.

The end result was exactly what I'd hoped for, sweet, salty, seasonal, and thrifty. And now I don't have to stay up nights worrying what to do about all those CSA turnips.

Clean-Out-The-Crisper Cake
Adapted from Mom's Apple Cake on www.smittenkitchen.com.

Note: I have adapted this recipe, but it follows closely the general spirit of Deb's original (which   is,  of course, also an adaptation). I include my version to illustrate the adaptive possibilities of the cake, and to encourage further experimentation. I'm sure I'll never make it the same way twice.

  • 4 small apples
  • roughly 1 cup of grated mildly colored and flavored vegetables (turnips, carrots, zucchini, etc...)
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 5 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup vegetable oil (could probably use a little less)
  • 2 cups sugar (ditto)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
Grease a large bundt pan.
Core apples (and peel if you must, I never do), and chop into rough 1/2 inch chunks. Grate the vegetables. Toss both chunks and gratings with cinnamon and sugar.
Stir together flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, juice, sugar and vanilla. Mix wet ingredients into the dry ones, then add eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the bowl to ensure that all ingredients are incorporated. (Deb has a note in the comments on her site about the somewhat unorthodox order of ingredient addition in this recipe. I'll just second her assurance that it works.)
Pour half of batter into prepared pan. Spread half of apple/veg over it. Pour the remaining batter over the apples and arrange the remaining apple/veg on top. Bake for about 1 1/4 hours, or until a tester comes out clean, it seems that baking times vary for this one.

No comments: