As a kitchen dweller, people often ask me how I come up with recipes and the process behind writing them.
Funny enough, I never consider myself a decent recipe maker; sure I come up with some yummy combinations of veggies, grains, & nuts topped with an egg, that I’m quite proud of, but when it comes to premeditating & transcribing a meal, I struggle. Most of my meals come from whatever I have on hand…brown rice, some wilting parsley, half a shallot, two stalks of kale, dinner! Very rarely do I write the recipe first.
So does this make me more of a recipe tester than maker?
On weekends, when I have the time to be lazy, decadent, indulgent, and under the influence of alcohol, I enjoy tackling big recipes. They’re usually from a post by a food blogger that I admire, a page in a current food magazine that I’ve dogeared, or a recommendation from a fellow kitchen-dweller. Nothing excites me more than researching a recipe, making a shopping list, hitting up the farmers’ market & grocery store, all while making people in passing feel uncomfortable when I awkwardly smile at them, reminding myself that I’m not living in some small town where you can just smile at people. I enjoy making overly pleasant conversation with the cashiers, assuming that just because it’s Saturday and I have the day off, that they too must be in the best mood ever (Unfortunately, this probably isn’t the case, apologies to the staff at Foodtown in Kensington when I talk way too much to you).
I have so much gratitude for those days where I have nothing to do except relax and cook…(I swear I’m 26, not 62, not that there’s anything wrong with 62 year olds…just sayin’).
I recently had one of those days, a few clients cancelled, had an afternoon free, a jumble of thoughts going on in my head, so I took it upon myself to find a recipe, make a grocery list, hit the store, and shuffle away in my kitchen to ease my mind.
I’d been eyeing an apple cake recipe that I saw on my dear friend and former client’s blog It’s Just Chicken. With my new Kitchenaid, I’ve been making it a habit to bake more, my skills are quite lack luster & need some tweaking. Donning my apron (not really), I got to work like the great little recipe tester that I am, tweaking a few things here and there, but following the recipe pretty precisely…or so I thought…
The cake came out of the oven, looking deeply golden brown, crusty, smelled like apple-y goodness, and then it fell…tumbled…splat…My first response was to wail, take a picture, & then eat the chunk that was the first part to crumble off (proactive, I know). After about 10 minutes, in which I ate a few more chunks of cake, I began considering what I may have down wrong…The cake was quite dense & very moist, you could almost say “too moist” but I don’t believe that’s a bad thing when it comes to cake, only when it comes to hoping that the cake maintains its structure…So, lots of moisture, too much moisture?
I didn’t weigh the amount of apples used, just eye-balled it. When dealing with fruit, something that’s already quite juicy and fluid-filled, I probably should’ve accurately measured. I also added a tablespoon of maple syrup, some more additional liquid right there. I used an angel cake pan rather than a bundt pan, and my biggest error…I didn’t give the cake enough cooling time before trying to remove it from the pan. Patience really is a virtue, or so I’ve heard.
So I guess recipe testing isn’t my thing either, being that I don’t follow recipes nearly as much as I thought I did…
So what am I good at? What is my role in the kitchen? What is my relationship to such culinary endeavors? What step do I take next? Could you call me a food blogger? Nutrition blogger? Lifestyle blogger? A cake-eating personal trainer? A nutrition coach who mostly coaches herself? A recipe follower? A recipe ruiner?
I’d be lying if I told you that this cake crumble isn’t parallel to my overall being lately. I’d also be lying if I told you that I don’t feel completely disheveled and confused about where my next career step needs to be, but until I figure that out, and while I may continue to (emotionally) crumble and fall apart a bit more, just like this cake…well, at least I have cake to eat along the way.
Note: Evan’s original recipe calls for 3 cups of all-purpose flour, being that I like to work with whole wheat when I can, I subbed in 1 1/2 C. of whole wheat flour for 2 cups of all-purpose. The general substitute ratio is 3/4 C. whole wheat flour for every 1 C. all-purpose flour.
Evan Kalman’s Apple Bundt Cake Adapted
-2 lbs. tart apples, peeled, diced into 1/3″ cubes, about 4-5 medium sized apples
-4 Tbsp. sugar
-2 tsp. ground cinnamon
-1 C. all-purpose flour
-1 1/2 C. whole wheat flour
-4 tsp. baking powder
-1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
-1/8 tsp. ground cloves
-1 tsp. salt
-2 1/2 C. sugar
-1 C. melted butter
-1/4 C. apple cider
-1 Tbsp. maple syrup
-1 packed tsp. grated lemon zest
-1 tsp. vanilla extract
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit; butter and flour a 12-cup bundt pan or coat heavily with non-stick spray.
-In a medium bowl, mix apples, 4 Tbsp. sugar, and ground cinnamon together.
-In another medium bowl, whisk together both flours, cardamom, cloves, baking powder, and salt.
-In a large bowl, whisk together the remaining 2 1/2 C. sugar, eggs, melted butter, apple cider, maple syrup, lemon zest, and vanilla extract.
-Gently whisk in the dry ingredients until just combined. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the apples.
-Scrape batter into the bundt pan and smooth, sprinkle with a few extra apple chunks.
-Bake until goldren brown and a tester inserted into the cake comes out clean, about 50 to 60 minutes. Cool in the pan on a rack for 15 minutes (do it!). Turn the cake out onto the rack and cool at least 45 minutes more. Enjoy!