Let's Dish Joyce Venezia Suss Autumn
Nov 05, 2018

Craving Autumn Apples and the Sweet Smell of Spices

By Joyce Venezia Suss

Let's Dish Joyce Venezia Suss Autumn

When fall brings its brisk chill and the scent of firewood in the air, I crave baking something redolent with spices, especially cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice. Releasing their scents in a warm oven makes me feel hungry, comfortably cozy, and craving a flannel shirt.

Autumn is prime apple season – at their crispy, juicy peak – and I have several favorite recipes in my collection that incorporate apples, spices, and another fall favorite: pumpkin.

Instead of pancakes on a cold weekend morning, I often make a Dutch Baby – a lighter version that bakes in the oven until puffed and golden. Kids of all ages enjoy watching the batter rise up like a popover. When it comes out of the oven, the center deflates, leaving a nice open space to pile in sautéed apple slices (sautéed banana slices are also popular in our house.)

One of my most-requested apple recipes was clipped from a 1993 Gourmet magazine. I’ve been calling it Pumpkin Apple Cake for so long now that I was surprised when I looked at the original recipe and discovered the baker intended it as a bread, baked in loaf pans. I can’t recall when I started baking them in cake pans, but it’s probably because they are decadently moist and sweet.

Let's Dish Joyce Venezia Suss AutumnIn both of these recipes, I typically use Granny Smith apples, a sturdy variety that doesn’t turn to mush when cooked or baked.

I’ve also used Gala and McIntosh, which are equally good.

Apple-Cinnamon Dutch Baby

Ingredients

4 to 5 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced thick*

1 tablespoon sugar mixed with dash of cinnamon

3 tablespoons unsalted butter – divided

Dash of cinnamon

2 large eggs

½ cup milk

½ cup flour

½ tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. nutmeg

Suggested garnishes: powdered sugar, real maple syrup, whipped cream

Let's Dish Joyce Venezia Suss AutumnPreparation

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Heat a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat for 5 minutes.

2. Toss apples with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Melt 1 tbsp. butter in hot skillet. Add apples and saute about 5 minutes until tender. Remove apples from skillet, and wipe skillet clean with a paper towel.

3. Whisk together eggs, milk in a medium-size bowl. Whisk in flour and next 3 ingredients.

4. Melt remaining butter in skillet over medium-high heat. Immediately pour egg/flour mixture into hot skillet. Using pot holders, place skillet in oven and bake for 12 to 18 minutes, or until golden and puffed. Remove from oven and top with sautéed apples.

5. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve immediately with maple syrup and/or whipped cream, if desired.

*Delicious alternative: Replace apples with three sliced bananas.

Pumpkin Apple Cake

Ingredients

For the topping

1 tablespoon flour

5 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened

For the cake

3 cups flour

¾ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground cloves

¼ teaspoon ground allspice

1 15-ounce can solid-pack pumpkin

¾ cup vegetable oil

2 ¼ cups sugar

4 large eggs, beaten lightly

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped (about 2 cups)

Optional: confectioners (powdered) sugar

Preparation

1. Make the topping: In a small bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon and butter until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. (Tip: Combine using clean fingers, a pastry blender, or two forks.)

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease two 8-inch round cake pans.*

3. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice.

4. In another large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, oil, sugar and eggs. Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture, stirring until the mixture is combined well.

5. Fold in the apples, and divide the batter between the pans.

6. Sprinkle the topping evenly on each cake, and bake them in the middle of the oven for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

7. Remove cakes from oven and let them cool on a rack for 45 minutes. Remove from the pans and let them cool completely.

8. These keep well, wrapped well in plastic wrap and foil, chilled for one week or frozen for one month. Before serving, sprinkle generously with confectioners sugar. Makes two cakes.

*If you prefer, bake in two greased loaf pans … and call them bread!