It ain’t over ’till it’s over… a story and an Apple Cake

Thanksgiving Day might be gone, but many people will still be cooking and eating their holiday meal for days yet.  While some are fighting the crowds at the malls, strip centers and big box stores, I am pondering roasting a turkey breast for sandwiches.

We had what I believe to be the BEST turkey EVER  last evening.  My brother Bob, who several years ago volunteered to roast the turkey for our revolving Thanksgiving venue, has definately mastered the process.  After apologizing for only brining the turkey for a short while, he served up the most moist, most delicious bird I have sampled in all my days!

The meal was sublime.  Was everything really perfect, or was it the peaceful and calm nature of the day?  I’ll stay right there, in that perfect spot. 

The day began with my daughter Lauren baking a coffee cake and Tony cooking up some cajun style sausages from Fiedler’s Family Farms.  We walked Brie while the coffee cake cooled and Logan was at the gym.  Back home, huge slices of the warm Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Toasted Pecan Filling (Fine Cooking’s Sweet Cakes magazine) and cold milk with hot sausages made our simple brunch complete.

After the first round of dishes, Lauren and I began making stuffing.  Logan decided to put together a batch of macaroni and cheese (which we decided would replace the sweet potatoes) creamy with 5 different cheeses and a whole  diced jalapeno pepper.  Topped with ritz cracker crumbs, it looked great!  Logan also helped me with my experimental Chocolate Caramel Pecan cheesecake.  Wow, everyone was getting into the act today!

The table had already been set, thanks to the TV crew’s focus on Wednesday, the cranberry relish made several days ago, the yeast rolls doing a cool rise since late last week.  (I keep telling my students how flexible yeast breads are.)  Things were coming together with a minimal amount of effort and stress.  Tony caught up the dishes and prepped the broccoli for steaming while I got cleaned up.  Mom arrived with a pumpkin pie, and we settled down to a glass of wine.

Bob carried in two containers of already sliced, perfectly warm and delectably juicy bird.  With the side dishes coming from the oven to the buffet area, I had nothing left to do but to stir the container of jus that Bob brought into my pan of gravy. 

Everything came together beautifully.  Some may think this is always the way dinner comes together at the Wheatley household, but rarely is  an important meal like Thanksgiving Day pulled off with so little worry and angst.  It really is about planning, scheduling and a great support system.  And sometimes, it helps to have a bit of perfect planetary alignment too.

And now, for the Apple Cake.  Several people have requested this recipe, and this is a great time to offer it.  Easy to make, seasonal and versatile, too!  This Apple Cake recipe was found in the Courier Journal over 20 years ago.  I have altered only slightly (cut the oil back and substituted some apple sauce for the volume of moisture), it has mass appeal.  Delicious enough for a dessert, I especially like it with coffee in the morning or a snack. 

If you are still in need for something to take to your next Thanksgiving Day celebration (some of us have several dinners over the weekend food orgy), this would be a welcome addition to the usual list of pies and cookies.

Apple Walnut Cake

2 cups sugar

3 cups flour

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

3 eggs

3/4 cup oil

3/4 cup applesauce

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 cups chopped apples (I don’t even peel these)

1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 and grease and flour a 10″ tube pan.

Mix together the sugar, flour, soda, salt and cinnamon.  Whisk together the eggs, oil, vanilla and applesauce.  Combine the dry and the wet ingredients, then stir in the apples and walnuts.  This batter will be very thick.  Pour into the prepared pan and bake in the center of the oven for about an hour. 

I usually use an instant read thermometer to check the doneness of this cake, as I have been fooled numerous times by its crisp crust.  Insert the thermometer into the center of the cake.  The temperature should register between 190 and 200 degrees.  Allow the cake to cool until you can easily handle the pan.  With a thin blade, loosen the edge of the cake from the pan, then pull the tube and cake out of the outside of the tube pan.  Loosen the cake from the bottom and pull out the tube.  Invert the cake onto a plate.  A sprinkle of powdered sugar is all the garnish that this cake needs.

Enjoy your day!

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