Thursday, November 13, 2014

What a difference a day makes - Aunt Ceil's Apple Cake with Cinnamon Crumb Topping

What a difference a day makes
Twenty-four little hours

Brought the sun and the flowers
Where there used to be rain

My yesterday was blue, dear
Today I'm a part of you, dear

My lonely nights are through, dear
Since you said you were mine

How about 3,652.421 days, hmmm?  What do you think that much time can do to a person?

I think I mentioned in a recent blog post that I was pulling stuff together to renew our passports.  Part of that stuff was a recent photo.  Another part of that stuff was to submit our expired passports.

Put the two together, and you get Shock and Aw-ful.  Incidentally the only reason I don't look even more like a candidate for the local mortuary in the picture on the right is because Brenda, my friend and paralegal, made me promise I would put on a little lipstick and comb my hair.

At least now the customs officials won't give me a funny look when I try to get back into the United States after a trip to somewhere.  Anywhere.  Any ship, as long as its first name is Carnival and it is sailing out of Port Canaveral.  I really have a one-track mind.  

The headaches are back, if in fact they ever left.  I had trouble falling asleep because of a headache, which outstayed its welcome, because then I woke up practically blinded by the light.  I could not open one of my eyes.  It hurt to lift my head, it hurt to breathe.  Other than that, it was a pretty good start to the day.  I like to look at the positive side of things.  For example, we were going to head up to Vienna ("Vy-Anna") Georgia this past weekend for the glorious barbecue blowout known as the Big Pig Jig.  But the week kept slogging along without either of us making a reservation or any kind of plans and then we realized there was no way we were going to make it, and that was okay.  Better than okay, because about 2 hours after that discussion, I found out I was on weekend shelter duty, and that if I had made reservations, we would have had to cancel and possibly face some kind of penalty fee.  

As Rob's Grandma used to say, "everything happens for a reason."  Sometimes I think my whole life is based on that belief, and that's also okay.

As it turned out, I had three shelter hearings to handle on Saturday.  Could have been a bad thing, but I had good CPIs and case management there, plus a judge I knew from the bad old days as a divorce attorney, and the whole thing was done and over by 9 AM.  Never mind that I had awoken at 5:45 that morning to get ready and drive up to Orlando; I will pay for that later, I know I will.  But for now, I'm still standing, and if I can stand, I can cook.  I can also food-shop, which is what I did on my way home, stopping at one of the Spanish groceries in my continuing search for pork belly.  I just happened to find a few other things ...

That's salt pork, two lovely pieces, and I am going to try some more Harry Potter magic to draw the excess salt out before braising it in the crockpot.  So into some cold water for a while, with the water being changed every 4 to 6 hours.  Wouldn't even consider cooking it for consumption until sometime tomorrow.  And two green tomatoes, rescued from a pile of red, ripe relatives and a pretty purple eggplant.  Maybe I'll fire up the old electric frying pan.  Maybe tomorrow.

First, though, I am finally going to make good use of those lovely apples I picked up in Georgia.  The apple cake recipe came from my great-Aunt Ceil, and the crumb topping came from another cake recipe I happened upon during a random internet search.  Of course, I've made some changes to both of them, but bringing them together on this blind date is going to be positively revolutionary.  

First, prepare the cinnamon crumb topping:

1 cup flour
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 stick cold butter, cut into pieces

Mix the flour. sugars, and spices in a large bowl.  Cut in the cold butter with a pastry blender or two knives, until the mixture resembles very coarse crumbs.  Put the bowl in the refrigerator while you prepare the apples and cake batter.

Next, the apples:

5-6 apples, peeled and sliced fairly thin (use a combination of cooking apples)
2 rounded tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Combine the apples, sugar, and cinnamon in a covered container.  Toss together, and set aside.

Now the batter:

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup V-8 Splash Tropical Blend

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and 3/4 cup sugar in a large bowl.  Make a well and add the oil, eggs, vanilla and V-8 Splash. Use a wooden spoon to combine wet and dry ingredients, and then beat with an electric mixer for about 2 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray an 8 inch square baking dish with baking nonstick spray.  I used an aluminum pan, and placed it on a cookie sheet before sliding into the oven.  Spoon half the batter into the pan, then place half the apples over it.  Repeat with the remaining batter and apple slices.  Cover the entire top of the cake with the crumbs.  Put the baking pan in the oven and bake for 45 minutes.  Check the cake for doneness.  If needed, bake another 10 minutes.  Place the cake on a rack to cool.  Let the cake cool completely before cutting.

This cake is so freaking delicious, I surprised myself!!

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