Simple Apple Cake for reminiscing

I, like many others, reacted to Steve Jobs’ death with shock. The outpouring of support and reflection also caught me off-guard, as my social media feeds filled with friends mourning the passing of a man who represented so much more than a product or a brand. I made this cake today, and was asked, “is this in honor of Steve?” Not directly, perhaps, but if the memory of a man can be honored in an 8×8″ pan, here it is.

My first memory of a computer was the Apple Macintosh SE that my father used to write his PhD dissertation, and I loved that little computer. Thank you, Mr. Jobs, for opening us to the idea that computers could be more than just an efficient grey box — that they could be friendly and accessible, and for living an exemplar’s life of passion and innovation.

I’ve been looking for an apple cake recipe for some time, and have been testing a few in the past year. In young adulthood, my then boyfriend’s family were heavily influential in my life. I have fond memories of the great, from-scratch meals that his mother would put together to feed their large family — and I mean this without any disrespect to my own mother, who did the same, with finesse — but this was the first time I had really intimate observations of an established American family’s day to day interactions. They loved those around them with a peace and openness that extended far beyond their welcoming home, and taught me so many lessons about the life I wanted to make for myself — many of which I still live by.

One of the things she’d often whip together was an apple cake, a recipe she had memorized through years and years of cooking. Cake on a weeknight, no matter how simple, felt so luxurious to me, and I was thankful for every bite. Once, while I was away at college, my boyfriend dropped by to say hello to my parents, giving them his own apple cake, made from his mother’s recipe. My mother froze half of it, and had the cake waiting for me when I returned for my next break. Sweet memories.

Time has since clouded my recollections, but this recipe fits the criteria I’ve developed for the cake I want in my own life. It is simple, with straightforward measurements, and made wholly from pantry ingredients. I’ve reduced the sugar to fit my current palate, and added yogurt to make this less oily than many other apple cake recipes. It bakes up simple, dark, and rustic, pairing well with black coffee for a breakfast, or with some whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for a weeknight dessert.

I hope to someday have this cake in my fingertips — able to whip it up sans recipe card at a moment’s notice, for my own family or whatever guests that happen to drop by. Here’s to Steve Jobs and to a beloved family: thank you for making my life a warmer place.

Simple Apple Cake
Makes one 8×8″ pan

Ingredients

  • 2 cups chopped apples, about 2 large or 3-4 smaller apples
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup yogurt (or omit yogurt, and increase oil to 1/4 cup)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Mix apples with spices and sugar, let sit for 10-30 minutes.
  3. Grease and flour an 8″x8″ pan.
  4. To apple mixture, add in vegetable oil, yogurt, and egg and mix throughly.
  5. Add in dry ingredients and stir until just incorporated.
  6. Bake in pan for 40-45 minutes.
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