Fall has hit in Maryland, and I couldn’t be happier. The hot, sticky days of summer have come to an end, and the crisp, cool days of autumn have taken over. The days are getting shorter, and my spirits are soaring. This time of year has always been my favorite season. Baseball is moving into the playoffs (Go Yankees!!!!), and football is just starting (Go Steelers!!!). School is back in session kind of, and as we roll into October the holidays are right around the corner. The chill in the air has me craving the foods that go with the season. Meals like chicken pot pie that was covered in my last post, hearty soups like New England clam chowder, and chili, which have posts to come. These dinners just seem perfect compliments to the beautiful sunlight of an early fall evening. The smells of the changing leaves and the last lawn mowing of the season simply make me happy. As a kid I would spend the last few hours of daylight playing whatever sport I could find kids to play, ranging from football and kickball to street hockey. I would play until my mother would go to the back step and yell my name to let me know it was dinner time. She had a voice that could be heard across the entire neighborhood! Everyone within a quarter mile radius knew it was dinner time at the Vergis household. After hours of intense competition I rode my bike home starving and ready to eat. My mom never disappointed, whether it was fried breaded pork chops, stuffed shells, home made chicken noodle soup and sandwiches, or my favorite, spaghetti with meatballs and sausage, the house always smelled incredible. My mother was a great cook, and always served amazing meals, but she was never much for baking. She baked the occasional cheese cake or Bundt cake, and cookies around the holidays, but not much else. I never was much of a baker either, as being patient while my creation sat in the oven for what felt like an eternity just didn’t seem enjoyable to me. That has changed as I have gotten older, and the smells that come from baking are now well worth the wait. I would say that I bake holiday cookies, but to be honest I bake cookies when ever I feel like having fresh cookies. Recently I have started expanding my repertoire to include baked goods like the peach cobbler that I talked about in a previous post, and now apple crumb cake. Like the peaches for my peach cobbler, the Vergis crew took a road trip to pick our own apples. This time we headed to Amish Country just north of the Pennsylvania line. It took us about an hour and a half on back roads to get there, but the beautiful scenery along the way was worth every minute. It seemed like the corn fields would never end.
My wife, Kristin“, found a small farm by the name of Susquehanna Orchards. This family-owned, 100 year old, 300 acre farm offers pick your own apples, pumpkins, and peaches in season, as well as farm fresh produce for sale. We made our way through rows of trees filled with golden, and red delicious apples. It didn’t take long for us to fill a half bushel basket. As we took our time driving home along the country roads of southern PA and northern MD, we discussed what we would be making from our harvest. By the time we got home it was decided that an apple crumb cake would be that night’s dessert. And that night’s dessert quickly became a family favorite. Served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and, of course, a tall glass of ice cold milk, we quickly made plans to use some more of our bounty of apples to make another round of cakes. That was just the beginning for the baking, and over the course of the next week I baked no fewer than six cakes that we shared with several of our friends. Below is the recipe for this delicious treat, please make sure to include the brown sugar and vanilla drizzle to top your cakes as it takes this dessert over the top.
For the cake:
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons of milk
- 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup + 2 teaspoons vegetable or canola oil
- 1 large egg
- 3 to 4 medium apples washed, peeled, cored and sliced thin (I used golden delicious)
- 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
for the topping:
- 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter melted and cooled
- 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Brown sugar drizzle:
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons water
- Grease and flour an 8″ round springform pan (or cake pan). Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together both sugars, cinnamon, salt and flour. Add melted butter and fluff with fork until mixtures creates crumbs. Set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. In a medium bowl, mix together milk, vanilla, oil and egg. Whisk until smooth.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon. Do not over mix. A few lumps in the batter are okay.
- Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan. It will seem like you don’t have enough, but with the addition of the apples, and crumble it will be perfect.
- In a medium bowl, toss together apple slices with two tablespoons of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and the apple cider vinegar. Don’t be shy with the sugar, or cinnamon!!
- Arrange apple slices over the batter. It doesn’t have to be pretty just make sure that you cover all of the batter. A thick layer adds to the texture of the finished product.
- Sprinkle crumb topping over the apples covering completely.
- Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the topping is golden brown. If the visible edges of the cake top start to brown the cake is ready,
- Let cool completely in the pan.
- Drizzle brown sugar glaze over top of cake. Be sure to drizzle evenly.
- Transfer onto a serving plate or stand. Slice and serve.
- Keep in a covered container for up to 4 days.