Food quote of note

"The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience"…Eleanor Roosevelt

Friday, November 16, 2012

Betsy Farnsworth's Autumn Apple Cake

I love traditions and rituals...I love having "special things" we do each year at the same time, especially when these traditions involve food and friends.  Each year brings anticipation of things to come mixed with sweet memories of years passed, when you've shared this same activity with special friends.  For some reason, fall seems to be full of traditions and rituals - with it's change of seasons and holidays - what a truly special time.

One of my favorite fall traditions is heading to the mountains to see the leaves and get apples.  Since well before we were married, Guy and I have made a pilgrimage each fall to nearby mountains to enjoy the beautiful autumn colors and fill our trunk with crisp, ripe apples.  Our companions for this years' apple ritual were our friends Jennifer, Madeline and Ian McClish - we loaded into Jennifer's minivan and headed to North Georgia -- what a great way to spend a beautiful Saturday afternoon in late October.

My pictures just can't do it justice - the North Georgia mountainside filled with trees
of orange and yellow - a beautiful backdrop for our annual apple tradition.
We headed north toward Ellijay, one of Georgia's prime apple towns.  After a winding, but enjoyable drive through the mountains, we ended up at Hillcrest Orchards, one of Ellijay's major apple establishments, complete with apple orchards, apple market, bakery, hayrides, cornmaze and petting zoo.  We headed straight into the apple market to collect our loot - a big bunch of apples to take home for eating and cooking. 

Ian, Madeline and Jennifer loading up on Pink Lady Apples

Apples of all shapes, sizes, colors and flavors - Hillcrest had them all -- Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Winesap, Rome, MacIntosh, Pink Lady, and more.

As you can see from the very large bag of apples my husband is holding, we couldn't choose just one type...good thing Jennifer brought the minivan.

Of course, no trip to the apple orchards is complete without a sample of some of the homemade apple treats - we couldn't pass up this deep-fried delight - a warm apple fritter loaded up with vanilla ice cream.  This fritter was clearly big enough to share....

Obviously that crisp mountain air made us hungry!
Again,  this year was no exception - a beautiful day in the mountains, colorful scenery, good friends, lots of laughs and crisp, delicious apples -- the perfect recipe for a fall tradition.  So, now I have a very large bag of apples that I need to do something with - perfect timing for October's cake -- Betsy Farnsworth's Autumn Apple Cake. 

I can't spend the day in the mountains without being flooded with fond memories of some of our dearest friends...Jim and Betsy Farnsworth.  The Farnsworth's are a lovely, tradional, and large  Southern Family - full of grace, eccentricities, history, colorful stories and laughter. Mr Farnsworth (who has now passed on) was larger than life while Mrs Farnsworth is the quintessential southern lady - a giving but firm mother of 6 sons who was very involved in her community and her church - and, of course, a great cook.  My husband went to work for the Farnsworth's as a freshman in college and quickly became a part of their family - and, when I  came into Guy's life, they graciously welcomed me with open arms.  We held our wedding rehearsal dinner in their large, lovely home in Greenville, South Carolina...we spent part of our honeymoon in their North Carolina mountain house -- like I said, many, many fond memories. 

Jim and Betsy Farnsworth -- dear friends for years and special guests at our wedding. 
So, whenever I am in the mountains I am reminded of spending crisp, cool days at the Farnsworth Mountain House -- relaxing on the big, wrap-around porch, listening to the sounds of nature and enjoying the autumn colors surrounding us.  Often, on these visits, we'd enjoy one of Mrs. Farnsworth's homemade treats, like her Autumn Apple Cake.  This is the perfect cake for fall - moist and dense from the apples, crunchy with nuts, slightly spicy and fragrant from the cinnamon, covered with a warm brown sugar-and-butter glaze...enjoy!   

There is something so special about using a recipe that is hand-written by a dear
friend - every time I pull this recipe out of the recipe box I see Mrs Farnsworth's 
writing and am instantly reminded of her.

Chunks of apples and nuts mixed into a hearty, moist batter.  This cake is relatively easy to make - but, be prepared, it takes some strength to stir this batter!

You glaze this cake when both elements (cake and glaze) are warm, so the
glaze soaks into the cake.  Tip - using wax paper or parchment helps keep your
cake plate and counter clean and neat.

October's cake - Betsy Farnsworth's Autumn Apple Cake

Like I said, I love traditions - making new memories and savoring memories of past years - and this year's fall trip to the mountains to get apples did indeed prove to be a very sweet and special time.   Hopefully you have your own traditions and are enjoying the fall!

Betsy Farnsworth's Autumn Apple Cake

1 1/2 cup cooking oil
2 cup sugar
3 eggs
3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla
3 large or 4 small apples, finely chopped (any kind of apple will do, but I especially like Winesap or Granny Smith in this recipe)
1 cup nuts, toasted and roughly chopped (either pecans or walnuts will work well)

1 stick butter
2 Tbsp heavy cream (or milk)
1/2 cup light brown sugar
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 and prepare tube pan or Bundt pan (butter and dust with flour).

Combine oil, sugar and eggs in bowl of mixer and beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, salt, soda and cinnamon - then add to oil mixture. Mix well, then add vanilla - note, mixture will be very thick. Fold apples and nuts into mixture and stir by hand to combine.

Bake for 1 hour 15minutes or until toothpick inserted in cake comes out clean (begin checking after 50 minutes). Cool cake in pan on a cooling rack for 15-20 minutes.

While cake is cooling, prepare glaze. Place all ingredients in medium saucepan and bring to a boil, then cook for 2 minutes. Remove cake from pan and pour hot glaze over cake while it is still warm. Glaze will be thin and soak into cake

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