I grew up in Virginia where it seems fall doesn’t just happen, Virginia does fall. The foliage is beyond incredible, every morning I rode to school counting the hot air balloons in the sky, and the apple picking. Oh, the apple picking. Nearly every fall we’d make a trip to Carter’s Mountain during the apple harvest to go apple picking, drink cider and eat hot sugared cider doughnuts by the bagful. It’s been so long since I’ve lived anywhere with seasons you could truly soak in, each with a definite beginning and end. Experiencing the nostalgia of pumpkin patches, hay rides and hot cider with little David has been so sweet.
I’ve been making this apple cake every fall as soon as honeycrisp apples are in season for the last five years. It’s no fancy layer cake. This is a warm blanket, windows open, good book sort of cake. It’s the cake you whip up the night before you’re headed to a friend’s house for coffee, it’s actually even better the second day. It’s no fuss, straight-up comfort food. I adapted it from a recipe run in the New York Times in 1973, Teddie’s Apple Cake. The recipe calls for walnuts, I’ve also used almonds, pecans and hazelnuts with success. Serve with ice cream, drizzle with caramel, or serve alone.
- 3 cups flour, plus more for dusting the pan
- 1¼ cups vegetable oil
- 1¾ cups sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 4 cups peeled, cored and thickly sliced tart apples, such as honeycrisp
- 1 cup chopped walnuts, pecans, or hazlenuts
- 1 cup raisins or dried cranberries
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Butter and flour a 9 inch tube pan, bundt pan, or 8 inch cake pan.
- Beat the oil and sugar together in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment for about 5 minutes.
- Add the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla and beat until the mixture is creamy.
- Sift together the flour, salt, cinnamon and baking soda. Stir into the batter on low speed just until combined. Add the apples, walnuts and raisins and stir until combined.
- Pour the mixture to the prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan. Bake for an additional 20, then check every 5 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then turn the cake out onto the rack to cool.