baking fruit life sweets

These Lazy Days (+ Clare’s Apple Cake)

14 October 2013


[From Land’s End, October 2013.]

Sun for days, sun for miles. My last Indian Summer in San Francisco for quite awhile and I am soaking it up. If I could run, oh, how I would, but need to give it a few weeks yet. Tonight is Sierra’s three-week birthday already; time, slow down. If there is anything sweeter than a sleeping baby cuddled against you while you drowse on the couch in the mid-day sun I don’t know what it is. It makes all the nights of little sleep so much more than worth it. I’d like to preserve this time in a jar, like so much blackberry jam, like these peaceful sunny moments, to make it last forever.


[Apple cake from Clare, October 2013.]

The urge to cook is still there, yes, underneath the urge to bake (a lemon yogurt cake and a wee recreation of our wedding cake just in the past week), and sometimes I give in to it with scrambled eggs and feta (and bacon for DW), pasta with lots of vegetables, roasted potatoes and cauliflower and baked salmon (baked beans for me), ‘creamed’ chard and caramelized onions, peanut butter buttercream to swipe atop a chocolate cake baked and stuck in the freezer before our girl arrived on the scene. Comfort foods at their best. But we have been blessed by the kindness of friends bringing us dinners in the form of vegetable soups, homemade bread, pesto-potato lasagna, macaroni and cheese, and pizza from Little Star so that even if I want to cook something mildly elaborate it feels a bit self indulgent to do so when the fridge is already stocked. Soon enough.

Last week our friend Clare dropped by bringing homemade dinner, her good company, and an apple cake that we speedily devoured the following mornings with our cups of coffee (these days the singular cup of coffee has become something to look forward to if not with desperation than with not a little greedy anticipation and it is fully savored). I asked her for the recipe because truly it was too good not to share, though when she did and I read through it I had to laugh. It is a very similar recipe to one I wrote up last month for a story I did for NPR about Gravenstein apples (see the apple and butter cake recipe included there) and which was inspired by a cake made on Maryland’s Smith Island and which I wrote about nearly five years ago on this site. October is the month for apples it seems.

In truth, the origins of this cake matter not; what matters is that it is simple, fragrant with apples and cinnamon, and absolutely perfect for the glut of fall fruit that currently is flooding the markets (I will confess it just occurred to me to make this cake with plums during the height of summer and now I will either have to splurge on the last of the season’s harvest or bide my time until next summer to attempt it). Apples in fall, apples in October, apples for love and promise. It is the quintessential just-before winter fruit, crisply delicious and ripe with portent.

As I ate yet another piece and re-read that post about the apple cake written a lifetime ago in 2008, I tumbled down into the rabbit hole of five years past and marveled anew at how life can change so utterly and inextricably– for the good, in this case, though I have a funny nostalgia for that time in my life. I was newly single after many years and spent my hours in rediscovering my solitary pursuits, long runs in the waning afternoon sun, and exploring recipes old and new (and then writing about them). I do not wish for that time again – no, not at all! – but it’s fall, you see, and fall always makes me reminisce. I would not trade that time, so full of alone-hours that were rarely lonely, for my present reality, but I do look back on it with a certain amount of fondness nonetheless. All things happen for a reason, perhaps, and I think a bit of time on one’s own is never a bad thing. At the very least it makes you appreciate the together-time all the more, whenever it comes.

Meanwhile: apple cake. We finished the last bit days ago and so perhaps it is time for another round (with plums? with ginger? though really it’s perfect as-is.). I have snatches of time in between the baby napping, and what better way to direct my efforts than into baking? ’tis apple season, after all, and I must take full advantage.

  • Sasha 18 October 2013 at 1:07 am

    Absolutely loved this post. It’s beautiful to see the progress of life and I admire the eloquence of your former and current life. I love catching up on your blog for the beautiful words and pictures and am so thrilled for the new joy(s) in your life. Thank you so much for sharing.
    Love, Sasha

  • Lisa 13 October 2013 at 1:22 am

    So, so lovely to see you writing, and baking. I felt like it took me so very long to do much of anything after A was born – and I had such mixed feelings about this, so happy to just coast along with him for a time and follow his lead, see what kinds of new rhythms emerged, but struggling too to get myself fed and bathed. Mainly I think if I were REALLY suffering from the lack of me time I would have done things differently, and was just following my gut. I don’t know. I’m sure it will be different this time around at any rate!