Apple Walnut Cakes With Mascarpone Cream
February 12, 2013
I don't think I could have enjoyed making these Apple Cinnamon And Walnut Cakes more than this weekend. Rainy and grey weather, still getting over a bad cold and terrible news about someone I loved just made me head out to the kitchen and cook, bake, stir and chop. I also went for a long run and ran until my lungs were about to explode. I needed to feel life in me. A tangible happenstance of something as fundamental as taking a breath in and letting a breath out. I had to get into the kitchen, open a cookbook and start a methodological way of going about my day.
Gather ingredients. Follow directions. Measure and stir. Step one would sway me one way. Step two another. I did not want to think. I did not want to guess. I just wanted comfort. Comfort in making a cake similar to the one my grandmother would make when I was little. Comfort in bringing extra cakes to the neighbors on Sunday morning. It did not even occur to me that my hands had reached for "Southern Comfort" by Allison Vines-Rushing and Slade Rushing. How appropriate. Comfort. In time of sorrow. Southern. Right here in the Deep South.
Life has funny ways indeed. And for a few hours, I surrendered. I was too tired from thinking, speculating, wondering, being sad, being mad and feeling like a piece of my life of the past thirteen years had been wrongfully taken from me. When someone screams, I get quiet. When someone gets mad, I smirk. When someone decides to check out, deliberately, I check in. I know no other way to deal with loss and grief. And I bake. Or cook.
If you read food blogs, such as this one, I am pretty much reassured that you do the same thing when blue. So I am hoping that you understand when my dealing with uncomfortable moments, makes me reach for the comfort of a soft cake, filled with aromas of apples and cinnamon, the tender crunch of walnuts and crumbs sticking to your fingers. Comforting scents and textures. Like a warm blanket on a cold and rainy day. These cakes will cure many a broken heart, will stop many a falling tear and will become the kindest balm for your soul.
Take my word for it. I cooked from "Southern Comfort" all weekend long. Even if you are not a Southerner here in the US, as I can't claim to be, but understand more and more being married to one for the last fifteen years, you can find comfort in taking familiar recipes, childhood recipes, family-hand-me-down recipes and make them yours. I feel deeply comforted and little more Southern. But overall, I just feel better for reconnecting to the only normalcy I know. Being in the kitchen and making food for the people I love. In memory or not.
This post was written with one single person in mind. Here is to you Tim... With all my love and thirteen years of an honest and seamless friendship between a man and a woman who were just trying to make sense of this life we are in. And for the many cakes I made you sample while I was pastry chef-ing at Mistral's back in the days... Miss you Mischief. Your Misconduct.
Apple Cinnamon & Walnut Cakes, adapted from "Southern Comfort".
Note: the original recipe called for vegetable oil but as true French Southerner, I used extra virgin olive oil... and walnuts instead of pecans. I could have easily used almonds, but I was out of them... As you can tell, any nut you fancy works great in this cake.
Makes one large bundt cake or 16 muffin sized cakes
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil (or you could do half canola, half olive if taste is too strong, or all canola)
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 cups Jeanne's gluten free mix or all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced into 1/4-inch dice (3 cups)
1 cup walnuts
Mascarpone Cream : not suggested in the book but it was the perfect foil for the cakes. At least I thought so...
4 oz mascarpone, at room temperature
4 oz heavy cream, whisked to medium peaks
Preaheat the oven to 350F. Butter ad flour a 10-cup Bundt cake or 16 muffin tins and reserve.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the vanilla, eggs, oil and lemon juice. Whisk for a minute on medium speed until thoroughly combined. Add the salt, cinnamon and sugar and whisk for 30 seconds longer at medium speed.
In a separate bowl, stir together the flour and baking soda. Slowly add to the sugar/oil mixture, at low speed and whisk to combine, about 1 minute. Slowly fold in the apples and nuts, with a spatula until thoroughly mixed. Spread the batter into the prepared Bundt cake pan or muffin tins. Bake for about 1 and 15 minutes for a Bundt cake and about 40 minutes for a muffin tin.
For the mascarpone cream: carefully fold the mascarpone and whipped cream together. Serve along the cake(s).