Our little sweet pea Elspeth Iris was born in San Francisco on August 18 and we’ve been happily navigating these sleep-deprived newborn days for the past few weeks. Mostly ensconced in a sunny ever so lovely spot in West Marin, we’ve been enjoying warm days and cool nights and a good amount of fog, as you’d expect from this area. As I type, both girls are snoozing away and I have the door open to the coastal breeze. I have a view of the golden California hills of summer and Tomales Bay is just slightly in sight as a bright smear of blue. Earlier this morning I took my coffee out on the sun-drenched deck and listened to the birds calling and singing to each other, and the wind through the trees, and soaked in all the stillness.
We chose to return to the Bay Area so our second daughter would be born in San Francisco; it’s a family tradition after all and we love the thought of telling them we’ve all been born in our favorite city. So this summer has been spent in the city, in Sonoma County, and now here in my my husband’s home town and one of my favorite spots on earth. It’s a special time because we’ve just had a baby, yes, but also because we can almost pretend we live in Northern California again. Californians love California and no matter how far from it we roam we will always return, pulled toward its epicenter as though it is a magnet. We’ve rented a little cottage that is perfectly sized and full of light and it feels like slipping back into comfortable ‘real life’ while we’ve been here adjusting to our new status as a family of four. Our house in Riyadh is enormous and rather dark and I’ve sorely missed natural light both in my kitchen and out of it. Among many other things.
There are two apple trees on the property and as the season wanes we’ve been picking and eating them, often multiple times a day. I’ve also made several apple cakes that feel just right for this late summer weather. A slice with morning tea or coffee is perfect, though a few bites savored alongside a glass of sparkling wine in the afternoon would not go amiss. I’ve also wrapped up the last bits and tucked it into my pocket when we’ve gone down to Shell Beach to wade and swim or for short walks in the Seashore. Many days I forget that we don’t actually live here — so easily we slip into routines of the Saturday farmer’s market and organic eggs and delicious local dairy and afternoons at the beach in blazing sun and wind — and I’m allowing myself the fantasy that we do. We may again, you never know. So for now I’m baking apples cakes whilst I can and taking home big, beautiful bunches of chard and buying salty, chewy loaves of bread baked by the sea and making the most of it.
I’d like to try swapping out the sugar for maple syrup in future iterations. If you can use all whole grain flours here make sure to do so.
Makes 10 servings.
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour or spelt flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup olive oil
About 2 cups peeled and diced apples of choice
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, sugar, and eggs, stirring and whisking until well blended. Add the flours, baking powder, and cinnamon, mixing to just combine. Add the oil and stir well to incorporate. Keep stirring until it forms a smooth batter. Stir in the apples. Pour and scrape the batter into a buttered 9-inch round cake pan or a very well-buttered bundt pan.
Bake for about 45 minutes, until the cake feels springy to the touch and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool cake on a rack for about 20 minutes; then turn it out of the pan to cool completely.