At my previous job I was involved in a little bit of a rivalry. Once my baking therapy became known, other bakers popped heads out of offices and cubes and joined the dessert party. There was the tall brunette Sales Rep who treated with "guilt-free" cookies and brownies, the short brunette Sales Assistant who brought in mouth-watering (less guilt-free) chocolate Babka's, and the brunette Director whose party-hosting frequency meant the rest of us benefitted from delicious homemade quick breads and cakes. It was with this Director that the friendly rivalry began, but I left the job before I could answer her zucchini bread bake-off challenge. We've since re-connected and swap recipes from one sweet-tooth to another. Last week I sent her my chocolate zucchini bread and she replied with her famous apple cake. How did she know that I suddenly had a half-bushel of apples to play with? It must have been fate.
After a beautiful Friday and Saturday, we were poured on all-day Sunday in New York. Not so fun for the half-marathon I was planning to run that morning! So instead of running myself into illness, my crew headed home from New Jersey with a suddenly free Sunday. I took a nap. I cleaned my apartment. I walked the dog in the rain. I caught up on bills. I watched The Rachel Zoe Project (for 3 hours). And then, with 2 hours before the Steelers vs. Bengals kick-off, I chopped up 4 apples and preheated the oven to 350 F.
This recipe makes a really funny batter, so prepare yourself -- you have done nothing wrong if it seems more like concrete than cake batter. The truth is, it bakes into a deliciously moist, coffee-cake-like treat, so follow the directions to a T. The only thing I might ever add would be a drizzle of caramel on top, but the cake is so rich with apple flavor that it stands alone perfectly (and stands warm under caramel ice cream just as well). I followed her advice and used a bundt pan instead of the 13 x 9-inch baking pan that I still don't own, and it's a pretty cake that my apples should enjoy being cozied into.
My bundt was divided into 4 equal parts and I sent them off into the world to be judged - the response was unanimous.
"A+++", "OMG soooo tasty!!", "Def a keeper!", "Where did you get the recipe??"
Well, the answer is I got it from a dear friend... and now I'm passing it on to all of you. Thanks Mary!
From the Fireman's Cookbook
3 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
3 cups apples, diced
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups chopped nuts
Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. Stir to mix thoroughly.
Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the apples, eggs, oil and vanilla. Stir until mixed well. Add in chopped nuts.
Pour the batter into a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan (I used a bundt pan, per her recommendation) and bake for 45 minutes (It took me an hour and 15 minutes for my tester to come out clean, so watch for doneness). Cool in pan at least 10 minutes. Serve warm.