A cake made with pantry basics, flavored with seasonal fruit and your favorite spices.
Text and illustration by Carol Egbert
An afternoon snowfall inspired me to make a pot of tea and organize my books. I began by uploading three cookbooks to the virtual bookshelf in my eReader, then, I moved on to the actual bookshelves near the wood stove in the kitchen.
The first book I pulled from the shelf was the 1930 edition of the Chicago Daily News Cook Book that had belonged to my mother-in-law. Tucked inside, I found a grease-stained piece of paper with a hand written recipe for “Crumb Cake with Fruit”. It read “Use fingers to mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup butter and a pinch salt. Add spice. Save 3/4 cup of crumbs. Put rest into bottom of pan. Put sweetened fruit on top. Sprinkle rest of crumbs around. Bake until golden.”
I had flour, butter, sugar, salt, spices and a basket of apples in the pantry. The books could wait until the next blizzard, recreating this cake was a more interesting way to spend the afternoon.
Served warm with a bit of ice cream, it’s perfect for dessert. It can also serve as the centerpiece of a Yankee breakfast. Here is how a Yankee is defined – to a foreigner, a Yankee is an American, to an American, a Yankee is a northerner, to a northerner, a Yankee is someone from New England, to a New Englander, a Yankee is someone from Vermont, and to a Vermonter, a Yankee is someone who eats apple pie for breakfast.
- 180g plain flour
- 100g caster sugar
- 1 pinch of salt
- 100g unsalted butter, diced
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- 4 baking apples, peeled, cored and sliced
- 50g light brown sugar
- Pre-heat oven to 220º C/Gas Mark 7.
- Use fingers to combine flour, sugar, salt, butter and cardamom until mixture looks like coarse sand.
- Reserve 75g of crumb mixture and press remainder into a 20cm springform cake tin.
- Combine apples with brown sugar and arrange on top of crumb mixture in tin.
- Sprinkle reserved crumbs on apples.
- Bake for 45 minutes or until cake is golden and fruit juice is bubbling.
- Cool on rack for 10 minutes before serving.
Carol Egbert is a writer, painter, graphic designer and cook. Her studio is on a country lane in rural Vermont. During mud season she escapes, for a couple of months, to a flat in Sicily overlooking the Ionia Sea. Her newspaper columns, magazine articles and blog are illustrated with her watercolor paintings – Honest Cooking means beautiful food.