Vermont Flood, Friends & Apple Cake

September 7th, 2011 / Comments 3

apple basket c egbert1 Vermont Flood, Friends & Apple CakeIt has been a crazy week and a half. When our friends from Washington, DC, Annie and Andre, came to visit, we enjoyed idyllic sunny days, lovely drives on country lanes and wonderful meals made with Vermont vegetables and not much else except for the night that Andre made pasta from scratch. They planned to visit friends on the Connecticut coast and their daughter in Brooklyn on their way home. With warnings about hurricane Irene filling the air, we suggested that they stay with us until the storm had passed but Andre was certain that the storm would “fizzle out”. So, they left Vermont on Friday.

Locust Creek K Fiske Vermont Flood, Friends & Apple Cake

Locust Creek by Kathy Fiske

Saturday was a quiet day – laundry and leftovers. The rain that woke us on Sunday was heavy but not alarming. By noon, friends had moved their computers out of a riverside studio in their house on the bank of the Ottaquechee River. When Charles and I crossed the Quechee covered bridge just after noon, the river was high and roiling but still within its banks. Three hours later, we gathered with friends, neighbors and strangers at the base of the covered bridge and watched in awe as the river pounded everything in its path. Propane filled the air; the river’s fury was stupefying. We lost power in the early evening.

Monday morning we set out to see how we might help. The three bridges that we rely on were all closed, although two still spanned the rivers they crossed, access to them had been washed out. The third was declared structurally unsound. The only way out of our village was up an unfamiliar road, across a soccer field, through the elementary school parking lot and onward. I’ve had a hard time settling down to complete anything all week.

On Saturday, we were delighted to be distracted from the flooding, by a potluck, surprise, birthday party where we shared good food, lots of hugs, a few tears and compassionate conversations. When I told Kathy, a fellow painter, cook and volunteer, that I was having a hard time figuring out what to write about she said, “It’s been a stone soup week in Vermont, write about that.” Stone Soup is a folk tale in which hungry strangers persuade a town to feed them. They begin with a pot of water, a fire under it and a stone in it. We certainly had plenty of water and stones and lots of strangers. I hadn’t made stone soup but had been part of a group of people who were combining skill, generosity, muscle power and tenacity to bring hope to a community. “But,” I whined, “I don’t have a recipe to write about.”  Kathy gave me hug and said, “Write about the apple cake you brought tonight.” What a wise friend.

Here’s how I made a Vermont Apple Cake for Townsend’s birthday party:

 Vermont Apple Cake

Charles, accompaied by our puppy Gracie, filled a basket with apples from our tiny orchard of heritage apple trees. I peeled, cored and finely chopped apples to make four cups, added a quarter of a cup of orange juice to the apples and set the mixture aside. For the dry mixture, I used a whisk to combine three cups of all-purpose flour, two teaspoons of baking powder, half a teaspoon of kosher salt and half a teaspoon of nutmeg in a medium bowl. I combined a quarter of a cup of milk, a quarter of a cup of orange juice and two and half teaspoons of vanilla in a small bowl and set it aside.

I used an electric mixer to soften half a cup of unsalted butter. When it was fluffy, I added one cup of sugar and continued beating for five minutes. When the mixture was light and fluffy, I added four eggs and beat well after each addition.

To make the batter, I stirred a third of the dry mixture into the butter/egg mixture, added half of the milk mixture, then added another third of the dry mixture, the remaining milk mixture and finally the last of the flour. I spooned half of the batter into a ten-inch tube pan that I had smeared with butter and dusted with flour. I topped the batter with half of the apple mixture, added the remaining batter and then added the rest of the apple mixture. I topped the apples by sprinkling on two tablespoons of light brown sugar before I put the cake into the oven that had been preheated to 350º. After baking for an hour and ten minutes, the cake was golden, beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake came out dry. I cooled the cake for ten minutes before I removed it from the pan.

The cake took longer to bake than I had expected and we were late for the party so I poured two tablespoons of dark rum into a small plastic bag and added enough confectioners’ sugar, about half a cup, to make a glaze. I finished the cake at the party by cutting off a corner of the plastic bag and drizzling the glaze on to the cake.

Dinner was wonderful but paled by comparison to the kindness and support of friends in unsettled times. Thanks, Kathy.

You can see more of Kathy’s work here.

Download and print cake recipe with an ingredients list here.

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• 3 Responses to “Vermont Flood, Friends & Apple Cake”

  • Candela says:

    Sounds lovely and I’m in love with apples.I make all kinds of apple cakes!
    Should we use 1 cup of orange juice or 1/2 cup? In the “print” directions you just use 1/2…
    Thank you Carol,hugs from Italy.

    • Carol says:

      OOOPs. I made a mistake, I guess I’ve been distracted by the flooding. I’ve fixed the mistake, the recipe uses a total of 1/2 cup of orange juice, 1/4 of a cup is mixed with the chopped apples and the other 1/4 of a cup is mixed with the milk. Thanks for catching my mistake.

  • Char Gardner says:

    Apple cake makes me think of my visits to distant relatives in Norway. At every house I was served a slightly different apple cake – all delicious. It’s a Norwegian mark of hospitality. Looking forward to trying yours!

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