Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Cake and half-truths
The summer before last, when I lived on Braemar Street in Winnipeg, there was an apple cake that I made a lot. My parents’ crab apple trees were heavy with fruit, and I came home from the farm with loads of apples several times in late August.
I have to say, this story isn’t really about cake. It’s about those little secrets that are best kept to yourself. It’s about little accidents that should be left untold.
I had been invited to a supper with people I didn’t know very well. Keen on impressing, I made my cake the night before, so it would be well set and I wouldn’t have to scramble in the kitchen after work. It would be a hit, I knew it. It’s a beautiful cake, light, not too sweet, and packed with apples.
And apples, I had.
The problem, you ask? It wasn’t just the summer of crab apples. It was also the summer of ants. They were all over the kitchen that year, ransacking everything while I wasn’t looking, laughing at me when my back was turned.
On the dinner night, while waiting for the bus, I inspected my carefully saran wrapped cake. And then I saw it. An antenna sticking out of the icing, squashed against the plastic.
Shit. An ant in the cake. I got on the bus, sat down, and carefully unwrapped the cake. There were a dozen ants, smooched into the sweet icing. Diabetes kills, I thought. Bastards.
I picked all the bugs out before my stop.
Everyone enjoyed the cake, no one ever knew. Except me, of course. And you, now.
Insect-free apple cake
adapted from a recipe in the MCC Simply in Season
5 cups tart apples (peeled, cored and chopped)
1 1/3 cup sugar
½ cup oil
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp flour
1/3 powdered sugar
Combine the sugar and the apples and let stand while mixing other ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine oil, eggs and vanilla. Set aside. In a third bowl, mix flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Alternating between the egg mixture and the flour mixture, pour and stir into the apples. Pour into a greased cake pan (3.5 L). Bake for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
For the icing, bring brown sugar, cream, and flour to a brief boil in a sauce pan. Remove from heat and stir in the icing sugar, briskly. Pour onto slightly cooled cake immediately.