I had been tweaking an apple cake recipe for several years and just couldn’t seem to get “it” quite right, until my last effort, and bingo, I finally succeeded when I added sweetened shredded coconut to its batter.
Closing my eyes, I took my first bite of this newly created cake, still a bit warm, and instantly, my mind traveled to the warm Hawaiian Islands and beyond.
A few days ago, I served the cake at a board meeting of Damians Ladder, a nonprofit organization founded last year to help our low-income and disabled senior citizens to live safely and comfortably in their homes, making small repairs both inside and out.
Later that evening, I received an email from my dear friend, Darshana Croskrey, the Scotts Valley Senior Center coordinator, saying she and her husband Willie were sitting enjoying a piece of this cake along with a cup of coffee.
“This cake,” Darshana wrote, “has all of the components of nature’s bounty; spices, nuts, colors, with brandy to ward off cool breezes and to warm the soul.”
Instantly, Autumn’s Bounty would become the name of my newly concocted apple cake.
I made the cake the day prior to serving, keeping it covered in the pan I baked it in with foil, tightly wrapped. Two days later, the piece I brought home for myself tasted as though it had just been baked, and today, five days later, neither the texture nor taste degraded. Autumn’s Bounty has held up to all my baking standards.
Autumn’s Bounty, along with Wild Blueberry Strudel, Raspberry/Strawberry Pavlova and fresh ginger Gingerbread Cake are my go-to desserts for this holiday season, along with my two-layer Pumpkin Pecan Pie, whose recipes I have included for you to bake.
Pumpkin pie or Pecan pie are the “must have” desserts for so many families for the holidays, but why not take it up a notch. Add a top layer of this reduced sugar Pecan pie filling to the Pumpkin pie filling, which alone can be a little too sweet, and you will have the perfect amount of sweetness. This also makes for a beautiful presentation.
Under a cloud of whipped cream, this can be your go-to-pie for Thanksgiving dinner.
Autumn’s Bounty Apple Cake
Grease and flour a Bundt or a 9” Springform cake pan.
Preheat oven to 350deg.
3 heaping cups fresh tart apples chopped into 1/4 in. pieces. Use Granny Smith, Fuji or Gravenstein. Set aside.
In a large bowl add:
1-1/2 cups vegetable oil
1-3/4 cups gran. sugar
3 Tbsp. Brandy
Beat together and then add:
3 large eggs, one at a time.
In a separate bowl sift together:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. Vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
Add flour mixture to wet ingredients in thirds, mixing well between each addition.
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut.
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts.
Pour into prepared pan and bake 65-70 min. until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
Let cake cool 1/2 hour before removing from pan.
Pumpkin Pecan Pie
One 9 in. pie shell, unbaked.
Preheat oven to 400deg.
In a bowl whisk together:
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 Tbsp. melted butter
1-1/2 Tbsp. white sugar
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp. salt
Pour pumpkin mixture into pie shell and bake 15 minutes.
While mixture is baking, mix together:
2/3 cup corn syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
3 Tbsp. butter melted.
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. cornstarch
1 cup pecans, chopped.
Remove pie from oven and gently SPOON pecan mixture over the pumpkin filling. Do NOT pour it over.
Bake for 20 minutes, and then cover the edges of pie with foil.
Reduce heat to 350 deg. and cook for additional 35-40 minutes until set.
Cool pie for 30 minutes and then refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Colly Gruczelak, a Ben Lomond resident, loves people and loves to cook. Contact her at [email protected].