I keep thinking that one day I will escape myself and have a quiet fall. I lust for cozy evenings and chilly tent time where one runs into a sleeping bag and reads books with a fading headlamp because they can. Because it is raining and the best place to be is almost-outside.
Alas, here I am. Where I always seem to be. Busy brain, busy life. Funny how even when I long for slow, speed rushes in. I sometimes wonder how this became the “here” I strove so hard for.
But, there is hope. Its apple month. Apples are inherently lazy. Apples take three entire seasons to arrive! Leaf curls in spring, tart globes all summer, bulging red yumm through early fall. Apples mean pie, sauce, crumble, and toast smeared with time-cooked butter. These are all satisfyingly slow things. While I will continue to mold-up many things in my life, a pile of apples take forever to ruin (even when I inevitably leave them sitting for months half forgotten on the porch). A person can eat an apple buried in a soggy paper bag in January, and find it still tastes fresh. It is good that something in life holds better than the rotten tupperware stashed underneath the mexi-blanket in my car or the rising guilt from the pile of letters I do really mean to write. Fall fruit is good for my chaotic brain. Good for my heart.
So, in celebration of slow; here is my favourite fall cake recipe. It is full of cozy ingredients that appear in the world at their own pace. You can’t rush maple syrup, walnuts, or apples. I am hoping it inspires more stillness. Or, at the very least, more acceptance that while the right now is hectic, it will all be ok soon.
Maple-Walnut-Apple Spelt Cake
*1/4 cup maple syrup
*1/4 cup packed brown sugar
*1/2 cup walnuts, chopped loosely
*3 apples, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices
*1 1/2 cups spelt or all-purpose flour
*1 teaspoon baking powder
* 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
*1/2 teaspoon salt
*1/2 cup butter (not fridge-hard)
*1/2 cup sugar
*1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
*1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
*1/2 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Part One: Maple Goodness.
*Make the bas by combining the maple syrup and 1/4 brown sugar in a 9-inch cake pan (or, bake this in a cast-iron skillet). *Set the pan directly over the heat on the stovetop until it begins to bubble; simmer gently for 1 minute, stirring often. *Remove pan from heat.
*Sprinkle walnuts evenly over maple mixture in the pan, then arrange the apple slices in a pretty way over the sugar.
Part Two: Make the cake.
*In a small bowl, whisk together dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt.)
*In another bowl, mix together the butter and sugars until they are somewhat light and fluffy.
*Add the vanilla and eggs and mix hard until everything is together.
*Gradually mix in half the flour mixture, then stir in the milk, then gently add the remaining flour mixture. Now is the important part: do not over-mix.
*Scrape the batter over the apples in the pan and carefully smooth out into an even layer. Bake for about 50 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes in the pan.
Part Three: Fun.
*Run a knife around the sides of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Invert a plate over the pan, and (using oven mitts!), grasp both the pan and the plate and flip them over together. Carefully lift the pan away from the cake, sigh in awe at your beautiful apples, and eat away.
Adapted from David Lebowitz, Warm Upside-Down Pear Cake.
(Or, instead of baking, just go to the beach! Less work! All quiet!)