Permission granted

When you work 6 day weeks and 14 hour days, time off is precious. Unfortunately, that one day off a week often gets gobbled up by laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning, studying and other random chores. We try to do at least one fun thing on each day that we both have off, but sometimes it feels a like a race to pack everything in. Because of this, when we do get a rare two day weekend off together or, in the case of this special week, an un-precedented three days, it feels like a magnified expanse of time. This weekend has already felt like a little mini-vacation, and we’re only two days deep! If I ever bail out and return to the corporate world, I’m willing myself to hang on to this feeling – this heightened enjoyment of free time.

The other effect of all of this work is that I feel especially entitled to little bits of self-indulgence. Bar of dark chocolate from the Whole Foods checkout line? You deserve it! Adorable little plant at the farmers market?  You totally earned it! Painfully expensive cocktail at a DC bar with coworkers? Whatever… you need to make friends!  $15 to spend 75 minutes petting cats at a cat cafe because you just wasted a precious vacation day taking a board exam? Shit, man…. This time though, I think we really did earn it, as early September marked 6 months of marriage (woo!), surviving the first three months of residency (whew!), and finishing day one of the aforementioned last non-surgical board exam (don’t get me started…). And celebrate we have! On Thursday night we hit up Tail Up Goat – a DC joint recently named to Bon Appetit’s top 50 new restaurants – and ordered everything, including a loaf of bread to go. Friday, we trekked out to a farm in Maryland and went apple picking for the first time this fall, collecting a haul of JonaGolds, GrannySmiths, and Honeycrisps. Once we got home, I promptly turned four of those apples into an apple cake, which we then ate for dinner (yay adulthood!).

I originally found this recipe in the archives of the Wednesday Chef, where Luisa praised it for at last liberating apples from cinnamon. I, of course, dumped that cinnamon right back in, and added some ground cardamom and ginger for good measure. I made a few other swaps along the way and it made the kitchen smell like magic. Of course, I think it would make the kitchen smell like magic no matter what you do to it – I think the smell of apples baking is simply one of those sorts of magical smells. Whatever your interpretation, it’s a wonderful way to bring a bit of fall into your kitchen even if you, like us, are just pretending as the weather hasn’t really cooperated yet.

Apple Cake

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 large apples (if you can, choose 4 different kinds)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t ground cardamom
  • 1/2 t ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons cream, or milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick/4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and browned, then cooled

Pre-heat oven to 350 °.

Mix together the dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, vanilla, cream, and vanilla until well incorporated. Add egg mixture and cooled brown butter to dry ingredients, stir until combined. Peel and core apples and slice them into thin slices. Stir gently into batter, taking care not to mangle apple pieces.

Butter and flour an 8″ round pie tin, or line with parchment paper. Pour the batter in. Bake at 350º for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Note: the original recipe tells you to stir a tablespoonful of rum or brandy into the batter and I think that would be a wonderful addition, we simply didn’t have any on hand.




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