Thursday, April 17, 2008

La cucina di Nicola: The reluctant baker

Have you noticed how many baking recipes are there in La Cucina di Nicola's archives? I have been so vocal about not being a baker, and now I can't pull myself away from the oven. We now bake because it rains, we bake because it is fun, we bake because we can share.

Last Sunday was cloudy and cold, and Nicolas was bored, so we decided to cook together ( I can be a good mom, like that, sometimes.) Nicolas wanted to cook something that we could eat for breakfast, as he is tired of cold cereal, bread with nutella, or fresh fruit; he wanted to bake banana bread, but our bananas were not ripe enough... we had apples though. We decided to browse through one of my pristine baking books, and search for an apple based recipe.

"Muffins and Other Morning Bakes" by Linda Collister, is such a good book, that I, a non-baker, decided to buy it on a faithful day not to long ago. I am so glad I did! We decided to make a loaf cake that was described as uncomplicated and as an energy booster. Perfect!

By the time the cake came out of the oven, we had a handful of friends at the house, nothing planned. It was fantastic to be able to share with them this delicious cake. Nicolas was very proud too. We managed to save one slice of the cake for the picture! Doesn't it look delicious?


7 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 Cup plus 1 Tablespoon sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 Cup self-rising flour, sifted (For each cup of all-purpose flour, add 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.)
2-3 Tablespoons milk
1.1/2 cups thickly sliced tart eating apples

1/2 cup raw sugar (I used brown sugar instead)
6.1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and diced
1 Cup all-purpose flour, sifted

An 8.1/2 x 4.1/2 x 2.1/2 inch loaf pan, greased and lined with waxed paper.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Using an electric mixer or wooden spoon, beat the butter until creamy, then add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs, then the vanilla. Using a large metal spoon, fold in the flour and enough milk to make a soft mixture that just drops from the spoon. Transfer the mixture to the prepared loaf pan and smooth the surface with a spatula. Arrange an even layer of apple slices over the top.
To make the topping, put all the ingredients in a bowl and rub together with your fingertips until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. (The ingredients can also be mixed in a food processor.) Sprinkle the topping evenly over the apples, then press down gently to firm. Bake for about 1 hour until golden and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
Let cool in the pan until lukewarm, then serve warm from the pan or cool completely on a wire rack. Eat within 3 days. When throughly cooled, the loaf cake can be wrapped the frozen for up to 1 month.

This recipe is from Muffins and Other Morning Bakes by Linda Collister. Published by Ryland Peters & Small.

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