Cinnamon-Apple Cake

I stumbled upon this rich apple cake recipe. I’m always on the search for new recipes. This time of year I am looking for apple recipes. I found another apple cake recipe that was similar but the cake tended to brown too much on its sides and it made a lot of cake. Too much cake, actually. Nothing says Fall like the scent of cinnamon and apples. No candle can replicate this scent. It brings me joy when someone walks into the kitchen, and smiles when they smell the cinnamon and apples baking in the oven. Sheer bliss!

I substituted Neufchatel cheese for cream cheese. Who doesn’t love a good recipe adaption? Calories saved! The cream cheese in the batter gives the cake lots of moisture. It’s amazing. I also used butter instead of margarine. I love butter too much to cheat on it. I also increased the amount of apple I used. The recipe calls for 3 cups of chopped and peeled apples, which according to the recipe is 2 large apples. I don’t know how 2 apples makes three cups of chopped apples. I found 4 cups of apples made this cake. Apples come in a variety of sizes. I use Macintosh apples. I like the apples to get soft and form puddles. Sometimes I throw in a honey crisp or two. I would plan on about 4-6 apples. I chop them, add the cinnamon and sugar, and let them sit while I wait for the oven to heat. This draws out the juices. Taste the apples. I like the apples sweet with lots of cinnamon. The batter does not have cinnamon, so I like a little extra with the apples. Cinnamon and sugar top this cake for a little crunch. Its a sweet cake, but isn’t that how it should be? I used a 9 X 9 square pan and not, the suggested springform pan. My cake was done in about 45 minutes. The change is baking pans changed the cooking time.

1 3/4 cups sugar, divided

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 tsp. vanilla extract

6 ounces block style Neufchatel cream cheese

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

3 cups of chopped, peeled Macintosh apples (or any baking apple)

Cooking spray

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees. Spray the bottom and sides of pan with cooking spray.

Peel and chop apples. Combine 1/4 cup of sugar and cinnamon. Taste the apples before adding the sugar/cinnamon mixture. Sometime grocery store apples are not that sweet. The recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of the cinnamon/sugar mixture to be mixed with the apples. The first time I made this cake, I used all of the cinnamon/sugar mixture. Oops! I always have some in a container, for toast of whatever. I used some of that for the cake top. Taste the apples after you add the cinnamon/sugar. You may want to add more than the 2 tablespoons.

Beat 1 1/2 cups sugar, butter, vanilla, and cream cheese at medium speed with a mixer until well-blended. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter/cream cheese mixture, at a low speed until blended. The batter will be thick.

I measure out 3 cups of apples and then stir the apple mixture into the batter. I usually put in about 4 cups, give or take. Anything left in the bowl is a nice snack for the chef. Include the juices in the bowl when you add the apples into the batter. Pour batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. Set the timer for 35-40 minutes and test it with a tooth pick, until the tooth pick comes out with some moist crumbs. Try to test where the is more cake, than apple. The cake will pull away from the sides of the pan when it’s done.

Cool the cake completely on a wire rack. This will stay fresh for a couple of days on the counter. If it lasts that long. You can also store it in the refrigerator. This recipe doesn’t make a large cake that never gets finished. It’s the perfect size.

Make yourself a cup of tea. Slice a piece of cake. Sit and enjoy the quiet and the experience. Enjoying the little things in life is important.

French Apple Turnovers

Long ago, in the days when I subscribed to magazines, I found this recipe in Fine Cooking Magazine. The recipe is no longer online since the magazine has been sold. I’m so glad I saved it. This is a classic pastry made with puff pastry and apples. It’s a quick weeknight treat. To get fancy, you can add in chopped raisins with the apples or a splash of brandy with the cinnamon and sugar. I sometimes add boiled cider for a flavor boost.You will impress your family and guests.

In the past I have made turnovers with frozen puff pastry. I found a puff pastry in the refrigerator section of the grocery store. The puff pastry has a long shelf life, and you don’t have to plan on defrosting anything! It works just as well as frozen puff pastry.

2 tbsp. butter

3+ small apples, peeled and diced.

3 tbsp. or more of granulated sugar

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

kosher salt

1 large egg

1 sheet of puff pastry, cut into four rectangles

Heat oven to 420 degrees and place rack in the center of the oven.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the diced apples, sugar, cinnamon, 1/4 tsp salt and cook, stirring often, until the apples are softened. I often us Macintosh apples, since I tend to have them in my kitchen. You can use any baking apple. The original recipe calls for one large sweet apple. I find I need more apple for the filling. I’d rather have too much, than not enough. Taste this mixture. Add more sugar and cinnamon to taste. Not all apples are the same sweetness. Any extra softened apple can be the chef’s snack. You can cook the apples earlier in the day and bring to room temperature when you are ready to use. I don’t like putting hot apples on the puff pastry.

In a small bowl, beat the egg with 2 tbsps. of water. Lightly brush the edges of each rectangle with some egg wash. This will help seal the pastries. I often do this on a parchment lined baking sheet. I find it easier to fill the rectangles on the parchment, rather than transferring filled pastry to the baking sheet.

Spread the cooked apples and any juice over half the long side of each rectangle, but not over the egg wash border.

Fold the pastry half without apples over the side with apples. Long side should align with long sides. Press to seal the edges tightly, using the tine of a fork. I like to wipe off any extra filling and egg wash with a paper towel. It could burn while baking.

Brush the tops with the remaining egg wash and sprinkle with sparkling or granulated sugar. I love the crunch the sugar gives.

Bake until puffed and golden, about 15-20 minutes. Serve warm.

Enjoy. A scoop of vanilla ice cream couldn’t hurt!


Apple Crisp



Crumb topping is magical. Someone had to say it. I grew up with a Czech grandmother who always welcomed us with sweet yeast dough pastries that had sweet poppy seed and prune fillings. She made a sweet yeast cake that had fresh plums on top. Covered in crumb topping. I think everything had crumb topping. Maybe that’s just how I remember it.

The words “I love you” didn’t pass through her lips often, but each meal, each pastry, was all that we needed to know that we were loved. She had a white metal table in her kitchen, by the back door, that she used to let the dough rest. It greeted us every visit. Her glass paneled kitchen cabinets were windows into her never spoken about past, with mismatched plates and bowls. It was wonderful. She was an excellent cook, but her baking was accomplished without every measuring anything. “Just feel the dough.”, I would hear her say to my mother, in her thick Czech accent.

Well, I’m out of the sweet dough business since the kids have flown the coop. But I still love crumb topping. I put it on apple pie, instead of a top crust, and on apple crisp. It’s never as good as Grandma’s, but I keep trying.

Let’s make some apple crisp. That’s always in season in my house. It tastes like apple pie, but without the work!


Apple Crisp


5 cups (about 6) Granny Smith or other baking apples, peeled and sliced

¾ cup flour

1 cup sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp. salt

1 stick of cold butter, cut into small pieces.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 1.5 quart baking dish (or thereabouts) and spread the peeled and sliced apples in it. I like to cut each apple into about 10-12 slices. Granny Smiths are a hard apple and will cook faster if you slice them thinner. Sprinkle 1/3 cup of water over the apples. Pretty easy so far! Now for the crumb topping. Please note there is no oatmeal in this recipe. If I want oatmeal, I will make some for breakfast. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Cut in the pieces of cold butter with your fingers, a pastry blender or you could use a food processor. You want it to resemble coarse crumbs with pea-sized chunks of butter. I said butter…sigh. Spread this mixture evenly over the apples. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the topping is browned. I like to stick a sharp knife in a few apples to make sure they are softened. This is best served with vanilla ice cream! Serves six.


This recipe is adapted from THE FANNY FARMER COOKBOOK.  I’ve been using this cookbook since I got married. Tried, true and torn with love.

Frittering the day away…..


Apple Fritters


Apple Fritters are another one of my childhood food memories. On a late Fall or early winter morning, my mother would treat us with these fritters. Rarely did we eat food that lacked in nutrition, making these extra special! What could be better for breakfast than sweet apples fried in a luscious light batter topped with cinnamon sugar? That’s right, NOTHING! She was very health conscious. She drained them on paper towels. Then we would douse them in cinnamon sugar. Cinnamon is very healing. Yes, that’s my defense!

The trick with apple fritters is to use soft apples like Macintosh apples. They cook up very quickly. Hard apples would take too long, in this recipe, and the batter would probably burn. If you only have a harder apple like a Granny Smith, I would dice them and put a handful into the batter and spoon this into the hot oil. It’s not the same, but will still be tasty. The biggest trick to frying food is to make sure the oil is hot enough. It sounds obvious, but I’ve often tried to rush the process when the oil wasn’t at the right temperature. Foods will cook in warm oil, but they will not become crisp and golden. Your food will absorb less oil if the oil is hot.


3 eggs, separated

1 heaping tsp. sugar

Pinch of salt

1 cup of all-purpose flour

1-¼ cups of milk

4 medium Macintosh apples

Cinnamon Sugar

Crisco or vegetable oil for frying


Separate the whites from the yolks of the eggs into two bowls. Add to the yolks, the sugar, salt, flour and milk. Mix until the batter is of a light pancake consistency. Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites into the batter.

Peel and core apples. Slice the apples into the shape of donuts (hole in the middle) and dip a few at a time into the batter. photoThe apple slices should be somewhat thin, maybe about ¼ inch thick.

My mother always used an electric frying pan for these. Heat the pan at 360 to 380 degrees and add enough Crisco to deep fry the apples. I would suggest about ½ inch of oil. You will have to add some more Crisco after one or two batches. If the oil looks like it’s getting too hot and browning, add some more Crisco to cool it a little. I don’t use an electric frying pan. I don’t even own one. I use a skillet on the stove stop. I use a thermometer to make sure the oil is the right temperature. It’s usually at a medium-high heat. If you’re not sure, try putting one coated apple slices in the oil. It should bubble and hiss in the oil. It doesn’t take long for these to cook. You just want them golden. I put about 4 or 5 apple slices in at once to cook. Don’t walk away! They cook I use a long carving fork to turn them over in the oil. You can use two knifes or a spatula. Whatever you feel works for you. Here’s a tip when cooking with hot oil, when you’re turning food over in, turn the food away from you, like towards to back of the stove. You don’t want hot oil to splash you, but the stovetop can be easily cleaned. You know it’s time to turn them when the sides have browned. I lift the cooked fritters out the pan with a slotted spoon, so oil can drain away. Place the fritters on a paper towel lined cookie sheet. photoThis helps absorb some of the extra oil. Then I sprinkle the hot fritters with cinnamon sugar. These fritters are fabulous hot or cold.


Note: Please discard the oil after you cook the fritters. I let it cool in the pan, and then pour into a heatproof container like a glass measuring cup. I either freeze or refrigerate the oil so that it hardens. Then I toss it in the trash in its hardened state. Do not pour the oil down your drain, unless you want to call a plumber. This will clog it for sure!


Miss Fancy-Pants Brunch idea

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes


Christmas morning I had a crowd for breakfast. I typically make my Egg Strata (previously posted) with bacon. I knew that I would need a little more to feed my family. I had printed out this recipe a while ago, and thought what better time to try it. I was so right. They were delicious. The pancakes are very light with a great lemon flavor. I had tasted the batter and thought there wasn’t enough lemon, but left it alone. I’m glad I did. Once the grated lemon zest hits the heat, the flavor pops. The ricotta makes the pancakes very light. These might be on the menu for tomorrow too. It’s a perfect “fancy” brunch recipe, or something to nosh on with your kids. The original recipe called for sautéing apples and serving them over the pancakes. I wish I had done this. But, hey it was Christmas and I was tired from a week of cooking. The thought of warm apples and maple syrup makes me tingle. Try this recipe. If you’re nervous, keep that box of Aunt Jemima nearby. I am betting you won’t need it. There are no pictures of these pancakes. They were gone by the time I thought of it.


4 large eggs, separated

1 1/3 cups ricotta

1 ½ tablespoons sugar

1 ½ tablespoons grated lemon zest

½ cup all-purpose flour


Melted butter for brushing the griddle

Maple syrup, as an accompaniment

In a bowl whisk together the egg yolks, the ricotta, the sugar, and the zest, add the flour, and stir the mixture until it is just combined. In a bowl with an electric mixer, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they hold stiff peaks; whisk about one fourth of them into the ricotta mixture, and fold in the remaining whites gently but thoroughly. Heat a griddle to a medium heat. When drops of water scatter over its surface, brush the griddle with some of the melted butter. Working in batches, pour the batter onto the griddle by ¼ measures and cook the pancakes for about 2 minute on each side, or until they are golden, brushing the griddle with some of the melted butter as necessary. Transfer the pancakes as they are cooked to a heatproof pan and keep them warm in a preheated 200-degree oven. Transfer to a serving platter to serve.

I may be the last one on the planet that has heard of this recipe. The original, original recipe was from Gourmet Magazine 1991. I think I was deep in diapers and trying to stay sane. It is the best excuse I got. I was not reading Gourmet Magazine in 1991. I was reading picture books and watching PBS children’s programs. This trend continued for many years……

Serve the pancakes with maple syrup, and if you’re smart, with sautéed apples. They make about twelve 3-to-4-inch pancakes.


Here is the Smitten Kitchen recipe. There are pictures and detailed directions if you need them. If you haven’t visited this website, you should. It is fantastic!

NOTE: I made these pancakes today. I added a tsp. of lemon juice and made the apples. Oh please make the apples. It’s like apple pie on And, for the love of bacon, please bake your bacon