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When I first made this apple cake, I was still a young bride learning how to cook.
It was 1986, and I was the reporter in the lifestyle department at The Wilson Daily Times. One of my main jobs was reading through all of the press releases that came in the mail from food companies such as Pepperidge Farm, Pillsbury and Kraft. I read the releases and decided which ones our readers might enjoy seeing in the Wednesday edition of the newspaper.
I’m sure this one caught my eye because it sounded like something my family and I would enjoy. In fact, I remember making this cake in the little house Reggie and I lived in on Gold Street the first few years of our marriage. I remember it because of a specific ingredient: marshmallow creme.
I imagine 1986 was the first time I had used marshmallow creme. I loved experimenting with new recipes even back then.
Every fall, when the new season’s apples start appearing in grocery stores and farmers markets, I start thinking of favorite baked apple recipes: apple pie, apple crisp, baked apples, apple cake with cream cheese frosting, apple cookies. And I always remember this apple cake made with marshmallow cream. I’ve made it a few times since 1986.
In one of my many recipe folders and notebooks, I have a copy of what Kraft called apple upside down cake. Rather than look for the recipe there, I instead relied on technology and found the recipe in a digital archive of newspaper pages.
I made the cake Friday night, changing the recipe just a bit. I used butter instead of margarine; cut back on the sugar, using 3/4 cup instead of 1 cup; and I used 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup of white whole wheat, rather than using 2 cups of all-purpose flour only. I also added a little more than 2 cups of apple, and I didn’t peel the apple.
I cooked my cake in a glass baking dish instead of a tube pan. I’m not a fan of tube pans. The cooking time was also 15 minutes less — another plus.
Let me tell you, my house smelled so good while that apple cake baked. Honestly, the aroma of apples cooking in the oven is one of my favorite smells.
When my granddaughter came home from a friend’s house that night, the first thing she mentioned was how good the cake smelled.
We let the cake cool for a bit before cutting slices for the three of us. It was so good! The apples were moist, the nuts added some texture and taste, and the cinnamon made me think of fall. All good things. The cake remained moist and delicious for several days.
THINGS I LEARNED FROM THIS RECIPE
• The original recipe says to use a mixer to combine the marshmallow cream, lemon juice and cinnamon. I didn’t want to go to the trouble of washing the beaters of my stand mixer I had used to mix the cake batter (no, I haven’t purchased a backup beater or backup bowl for my prized KitchenAid), and I sure didn’t want to get out my hand mixer. Instead, I used a spoon to mix up those ingredients. Worked just fine.
• I used Granny Smith apples for this recipe, and I didn’t peel them first. Other apples would be fine. One large apple was almost enough for the 2 cups I needed, but I decided to use part of the second as well to have plenty of apples. I ended up using around 2 1/4 cups of diced apples.
• I didn’t make my cake as an upside down cake because I cooked it in a baking dish rather than a tube pan. I made a layer of cake batter spreading half the batter, followed by all of the apples, nuts and cinnamon marshmallow cream, all topped with the remaining half of the cake batter.
Because this is a layered cake, the top of the cake separates a little from the cinnamon filling when you serve it. Be careful when you serve it because it might slide. I’m not sure if this would have been a problem if the cake had been baked in a tube pan. (But if I used a tube pan, the cake probably would have fallen to pieces when I removed it from the pan.)
• This cake is plenty sweet without the extra 1/4 cup sugar. Also, if you’re rather not use the white whole wheat flour, it’s fine to use the full 2 cups of all-purpose flour.
Lisa Boykin Batts has been writing a weekly food column since 2001. Her column includes recipes she and her family enjoy.