Mary Beth Johnson is a photographer, blogger, and journalist with a passion for finding beauty in unexpected places and celebrating the everyday. Originally from the east coast, she now lives in Oklahoma with her husband and three children (dubbed “schooners”). From an office full of fingerprints and walls scattered with imperfect artwork, she’s writing her first book, a memoir of her parents’ journey in raising 14 children, and her own lifestyle blog, Annapolis & Company.
Apple season begins in September and I get giddy about it every year. To me, it signifies the turning of the season and the calm, crisp routine of days before the holiday season hits. I revel in that. This September we are adding another baby to our family and I have a feeling it will take us a bit to establish that steadiness I look forward to with every new apple harvest, yet we are so beyond excited to have our first autumn baby that I know the sleepless nights will soon be forgotten. Somewhere in the craziness we’ll find time for apple pies, apple butter, and easy homemade applesauce in the crockpot.
There is a little orchard in the North Carolina mountains that we love to visit when we’ve lived on the east coast in the past. Stunning views of the mountains, apple cider donuts, red wagons, and miles of every variety apple you could imagine. It’s a happy little place and a nice change of scenery from the rolling hills of South Carolina. After moving back from the midwest this year, I’m excited to take a Saturday to drive up there for a morning of exploring and gathering with the kids.
I have a lot of favorite apple recipes to use our apples on, but this one is probably my favorite. It makes a large cake, so I like to share it with the neighbors or host a dessert night with friends, pairing it with coffee or apple cider. It’s fun to look back and see all the different places I’ve made this and the different people in our lives at the time. Food can have a history all of its’ own and I like that my tastebuds tingle and memories trigger just by pulling out a well-loved recipe.
I hope that wherever you are you get a chance to make this and share it with the ones you love…
//APPLE CAKE WITH BROWN SUGAR GLAZE
For the Cake:
3 cups finely chopped apples (I like to use a little more)
1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped (optional)
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
For the Cake: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13-inch pan with butter and set aside. In a large bowl, mix the eggs with a hand mixer til light in color and foamy. Add the oil and vanilla and beat well. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Stir with a whisk to mix everything together. Stir in the flour mixture with a spoon and continue stirring the batter till the flour disappears. Add the apples and nuts (if using) and stir to mix them into the batter. Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Place the hot cake on a wire cooling rack. While it’s still hot, prepare the glaze.
For the glaze: Combine all the ingredients into a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the mixture comes to a gentle boil. Cook for 3-5 minutes. Spoon the hot glaze over the still hot-from-the-oven cake. Let the glazed cake cool completely before serving straight from the pan.
Notes: This makes a huge cake, which is perfect when having company over or for sharing with the neighbors, but should you want a smaller portion this recipe is easily divided in half. Bake in a square, 8 x 8-inch pan. This is also even better the next day if you keep it tightly sealed or covered!