We went apple picking this weekend, which means I have about 20 pounds of apples in my kitchen, which means this easy apple cake recipe is going to be made again soon.
Apple picking is one of those things I used to miss most about living in the northeast. From the first autumn Ken and I were dating (16 years ago now!) we used to climb into a car (first a tiny blue Ford Festiva, later a zipcar), drive out into the country, and see some beautiful color and pick apples. When we moved to Southern California, we thought our New England apple-picking days were done. But, as I described three years ago, we were mistaken.
It took us three years to go back (a delay I attribute squarely to a curly-headed imp we call Typhoon Bootsy) but we’re glad we did. As we were driving through the Inland Empire (such a glamorous name for a less than glamorous place), listening to the incessant chatter and music of our delightful children (Bootsy is perfecting his Ozzy Osborne version of Kumbaya), we realized that the apple orchards are just as close to us in Los Angeles as they once were in New York. We pulled up to Stone Pantry Orchards (trees laden with apples! Close enough to the ground that even the littlest one could pick!) and proceeded to fill a bag.
The cruelest month of the year is not April – it’s September. As soon as Labor Day passes, most of the U.S. puts away the flip flops and pulls out the boots, tweeting things like “It’s sweater weather!” and posting taunting pictures of hearty bowls of soup on their instagrams. Meanwhile, we have been suffering through triple digit temps and, to pile insult upon injury, humidity.
Maybe Eliot didn’t live in L.A.
Intellectually, I KNOW that September is the hottest month of the year here – that fall doesn’t even officially start until September 22, and doesn’t really start in Southern California until November. But that doesn’t stop me from being surprised, every year, by the sheer horror that is September in Los Angeles. 105 at my house, folks. 99 degrees at 9 pm. 95 at my office, and the air conditioning broke. I know that when I see my power bill this month I am going to cry. There was really nothing to do but hide in the house, shades drawn, A/C on full blast (which only cooled it to 80, sob), and do absolutely nothing that required any sort of exertion, whatsoever, except eating and drinking very cold things and reading the J. Peterman Catalog. (It goes without saying that I am being just a tad hyperbolic, and September in L.A. compares favorably to being in say, Mosul right now).
So this is it, rest of the world: you are used to Angelenos crowing about the weather, sitting smugly in 75 degrees when the rest of the country freezes their tootsies off in a polar vortex. But not now. This is the week when you can gloat.
Yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Classic. If you ask most people what their favorite cake is, they will answer, “Yellow cake with chocolate frosting.” It’s the cake of our fondest nostalgic imaginings, bringing to mind the best birthdays of childhood.
Not my birthdays, though. I was a child of the 70’s with more imagination than sense, which means my earliest birthday cakes were carrot cakes (of course!) and then, when I was old enough to ask, I’d beg my mother to make a somewhat horrifying concoction of angels food, devils food, chocolate mousse and 7 minute frosting). Now that I am an actual grown up (I can no longer deny this fact due to thenature of 1) my tax return, 2) my grocery list, and 3) my color-coded online family calendar) I have a greater appreciation for classics. Things that never go out of style.ellow cake. Chocolate Frosting.
Last week, my baby turned two. Which means he is hardly my baby anymore. He no longer stays where I put him – instead he is constantly climbing and getting into everything. A few days ago, he went into the kitchen and poured himself a bowl of cereal. With milk. Which was pretty impressive if I ignored the milk all over the table. On the other hand, he is an extraordinarily charming two year old – head of blond curls, little voice that repeats everything, and lots of silliness. I wanted to celebrate his birthday with style, with class – and how better than with the classic – yellow cake with chocolate frosting?
It’s springtime! Which means rhubarb! Which means #YARROSF (Yet another rhubarb recipe on The Domestic Front). Do you think I can get that trending? If you’ve been reading my blog for the past five years, you know I am a rhubarb apologist. It’s not too tart, it’s not too weird, and no, I don’t want to mix it with strawberries. I love the flavor of rhubarb and every spring around this time I want to get into the kitchen with those rosy stalks.
This spring I’ve been trying to cut a lot of carbs out of my diet (more on that later, if you’re interested), and so after thinking about some new ways to use rhubarb, I hit on rhubarb cheesecake. Pairing rhubarb with creamy custard is classic, and the almond crust plays a nice crunchy counterpoint to the creamy filling. What I especially love about this recipe is that it’s so versatile for this time of year – the rhubarb cheesecake would be a beautiful addition to your Easter table, or, given that it’s gluten- and grain-free, a great Passover treat. I’ve provided both the low-sugar version (I used a sugar substitute) and the full-sugar versions below.
The cake is great on its own, but serving it with the remaining rhubarb compote really punches up the springtime flavor. Both of my kids were fans, and repeated words that were music to this rhubarb-loving mama’s ears: “More rhubarb, please!”
I'm Kate, and between my day job and my home job, life is pretty full. Look around to find some of the recipes, projects, stories and tips that keep me sane on the domestic front. Read more about me here and feel free to email me with any questions or feedback!