Skillet Apple Cake

Adam and I are lucky to live in the same condo building as our friends. It sometimes feels as if we are living in a FRIENDS episode, bumping into them in the hallways and elevator, borrowing clothing, ingredients, pots and pans when needed and other miscellanious items such as muffin liners, glue guns, and staplers etc. It’s nice to know if you run out of something, or need to run out quickly someone is home to watch a little one, like we have done for our friends with a toddler. We’ve even relieved them of the little guy when they aren’t feeling well, taking the baby and the dogs out for a walk so they can get some rest. It’s nice to know people in the building, other than just a neighbor whom you pass by in the hallway with a nod. One of our friends lives only a few doors down, while the other live on the opposite side of the building. We get together for dinners as often as possible, knowing its only a short commute between houses, without worrying who is driving or what the weather outside looks like. It’s also nice that one of them is a Vancouver Police Officer, so if anything happens I know where to go! Haha. I was originally going to make another type of apple cake, to bring to Adam’s parents, that required eggs. Having only one egg left, and not wanting to get dressed to go to the store, I called our friend to borrow an egg. We were all still in our PJs. Afterwards, I found this recipe which I wanted to try instead, and of course, it did not require any eggs. Bonus for me, since I have a slight allergy.

Later that afternoon, we were waiting to go to dinner when all of a sudden the fire alarm in our building began to go off. We have had problems in the past of pipes bursting after cold weather, as they did last winter. Again, knowing people in the building really pays off, as our friends apartment was unfortunately flooded with water when the pipe burst, and luckily I was home along with our other friend who had a key to their place, and we were able to get in and try to control the water damage before the Firefighters got there. We figured this was the same instance, and got our jackets on to go outside and wait. However, when we entered our hallway we smelled smoke. This was an actual fire. Other neighbours told us there was a lot of smoke at the end of the hallway, and to call 911. We went back in, grabbed a couple items,  like my computer (my life!) and went outside. Our friend, the police officer, was waiting for us to look after the little guy, so he could go inside and see what was happening, as his wife had just gone to the store when it happened. Our other friend had to wrangle their two cats into a carrier, much to their dismay, but humorous for us watching them trying to push their way out of it, met us outside. Luckily it was not a large fire, but rather someone had not watched a pot on the stove that caused it to smoke and sound the alarm in their apartment, to which they did not turn off, and then it caused the entire buildings fire alarm to set off. There was quite a lot of smoke, but luckily no one was hurt and no further damage was caused.

We went back in, got dressed and left for dinner, apple cake in hand. Adam is part of the strata committe, and had to attend a scheduled meeting that night. I’m sure they had more to talk about after the ‘fire’ incident. I sent the rest of the cake down with him to share with the other members. Another reason you should get to know your neighbours – they might bake you something!

This cake is subtley sweet, studded with tart chopped apples. You can bake it in a skillet, I decided to finally break mine in. Or, bake it in a cake dish, 8” or 9”.

Unfortunately I don’t think I can use our skillet for cooking on our stove, as we have a glass top stove and I’ve read some stories online of the cast iron causing it to break and crack. So, for now it will only be used in the oven.

Apple Cake
Slighlty adapted from: Joy Of Cooking 75th Anniversary Edition 

You will need:

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or regular milk, with a squirt of lemon)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2-3 medium green or tart apples

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly season/grease your cast iron skillet. Alternatively, you can use an 8 or 9” cake pan.

Cut apples into segments, chopping up into smaller pieces, reserving some slices, leaving the peel on.

Whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and spices in a large bowl thoroughly to remove any large lumps.

Add, the milk, oil and vanilla.

Add the chopped apples and mix until incorporated into the batter.

Scrape the batter into your prepared baking dish, and spread evenly. Arrange reserved apples slices ontop of batter in a pattern.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool on the counter on a cooling rack.

Once cooled, you can sprinkle with confectioners sugar. Serve warm or cold, with whipped cream or maybe a scoop of ice cream.

This would also be good with a crumb topping, a mixture of brown sugar and buter with oats.






Cinnamon Buns


I used to be afraid to use yeast in baking. I only really tried using it last summer for the first time, making pizza dough. I think after a few tries I have gotten the hang of it. The very first time I ‘killed’ the yeast because the water was too hot, you know they’re quite sensitive to heat. But after a few tries you get the hang of it, and realize how warm the water/milk should be for the little yeast granules to ‘live’ and foam up. I make pizza dough quite often now, and I don’t even think I have ever bought a pizza shell from the grocery store since Adam and I began living together last september. Or really any time before then. This month, we decided we wouldn’t spend any money eating out. November and December were both quite busy, and we seemed to be eating out quite a lot. While it is not only costly for the wallet, it’s also not healthy to always be eating at restaurants or fast food. While I don’t think I’ve eaten at a ‘fast food’ restaurant like McDonalds for quite a few years now, we did begin eating a lot of Tim Horton’s this past summer. We have never even ordered take out to our apartment, no pizza deliveries, no Chinese food. The only thing we really ever go out for, or bring back to our house is Sushi, because lets face it you cannot make it as well, or for as cheap as they can at a restaurant. There is no ‘take out menu’ drawer at our place. Only fresh ingredients in the cupboards and fridge.

Adam had to work on the island for three weeks in November, eating out every meal of the day. So when he would come home on the weekend he was happy to be eating healthy meals made at home. So far this month we have not spent any money going out to restaurants. We have however gone out twice now, once with Adam’s parents who took us out to dinner, and once this weekend to the Secret Supper Soiree which I won tickets to. It has been nice not going out to eat. While I do enjoy dining out, I also love to cook myself so it’s not a big deal to stay in. Many people think of going out as a convenience, but making a homemade meal is quite convenient, and there are always leftovers for the next day. We’ve been eating a lot of soups, such as the Italian Ribollita soup I made before, and chili. I have also found that there are many things we buy from a store that we can make ourselves. I even began making granola bars, instead of buying them, as Adam takes a couple with him for lunch every day. They are much healthier, and you can add things like pumpkin and flax seeds.

I remember when I was younger my mother would make pizza dough, and then use the extra to make my brother and I cinnamon buns, and of course my dad who was always wanting ‘something sweet’ for dessert. She would always add raisins and nuts, usually walnuts that we had on hand. It was a special treat when she did. I remember they would disappear quite fast. My mom came over today and got to taste them, I think they are as good as the ones she made us. There’s just something about warm cinnamon buns right from the oven. I had wanted to make these for a while now, but had yet to get around to it. They are worth the wait, and take about two hours from start to finish. We also brought a few over to Adam’s sister, who has a bun of her own in the oven. Adam could become an uncle any day! But for the sake of his sister, not too soon haha. These are perfectly fluffy, and just sweet enough. I didn’t use a large amount of sugar in the dough or in the filling, so you don’t feel too bad eating them ;) And the whole wheat dough makes them healthy..ish.

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Buns
adapted from Cate’s World Kitchen 

Time: 1 1/2 hours to rise, 20 minutes to bake.

Recipe:
1 cup milk (I used 1%)
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
2 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
4 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

Filling:
brown sugar
cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, melted
raisins (optional)
walnuts (optional)

Directions:

  1. Warm the milk in the microwave for about 30 seconds, until it reaches 105 degrees. I suggest using a thermometer, I love mine since I bought it and it has come in very handy.
  2. Pour the milk into a mixing bowl, I used my kitchenaid bowl. Add to the milk 2 1/2 tsp. of active dry yeast, and a pinch of sugar. Let the mixture stand until it begins to look foamy, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the 1/4 cup sugar, 1/3 cup melted butter, 2 eggs, and flour. Using the paddle attachment mix for 30 seconds. Switch to the dough hook, and continue for about four minutes until dough becomes smooth. Alternatively, you can knead dough by hand.
  4. Shape the dough into a ball, place in a large bowl that is well greased, and cover with a tea towel. Let rise in a warm place about 1 hour or until dough has doubled in size.
  5. Once it has risen, sprinkle some flour on to the countertop and lightly flour a rolling pin. Roll the dough into a large rectangle that is about 1/4 inch thick.
  6. Brush the dough with 1/3 cup melted butter using a pastry brush and sprinkle evenly with sugar and cinnamon. I just used a handful of sugar, and a lot of cinnamon. You can make them as sweet as you like. Cover with nuts and raisins evenly.
  7. Roll the dough up starting with the longer side and cut into approximately 12 rolls.
  8. Arrange the rolls in a lightly greased 9×13 inch baking dish. Cover again with a tea towel and let rise for about 30 minutes. I also used a muffin tin for the extras, and baked them in that. It worked really well for small cinammon bun/muffins.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake until golden brown, about 18-20 minutes.

You can leave them plain, or mix cream cheese with icing sugar to make an icing.

Do you eat out quite often?

Do you prefer cooking at home than dining out?

Have you baked with yeast before? What are your favourite recipes?

Secret Supper Soiree

Today I was happy to find out I had won a contest courtesy of Good Life Vancouver, Cassandra Anderton, and Swallow Tail Supper Club.

Here are the deets:

Swallowtail Canada holds a yearly sold-out culinary event in Vancouver.

From their website..

Last years sold out event is back! Vancouver’s culinary speakeasy tour. Imagine being a guest in a 30’s underground bar, a room of unsolved mysteries, perhaps, an urban winery. A sommelier serves you stunning sips of wine. Chef Andrea Carlson formerly of Bishops sizzles up fresh, wild BC canapé creations. A classic double decker chauffeurs to the venues. The best way to explore the secrets of the city!

Five Courses. Four Wine Tastings.
Two Secret Locations

YOUR CHAUFFEUR

Classic Double Decker

DRINKS

1 Pims Cup a la Boardwalk Empire

3 Tastings – BC boutique wineries showcased

FOOD CREATIONS

Executive Chef Andrea Carlson of Bishops

5 tasting plates – BC Wild food inspired

Vegetarian option available

MEETING LOCATION

…secret until ticket purchase

All new secret locations this year!

DRESS CODE

As fancy as you like, the fancier the better.

We encourage 1930’s speakeasy attire!

Don’t forget your umbrella for rainy days.

DATES

Saturday – Jan 21, 28, Feb 4

4pm & 8pm shows
Trolley leaves promptly, so don’t be late!

Jan 21 & 28, Feb 4 8pm Shows SOLD OUT

TICKET PRICES

Early Bird rate (pre Dec 24th) – $99 w/ wine

$99 Group rate 10+ w/ wine

$89 w/o wine
$129 w/ wine

Information from Swallow Tail website here, where you can also find out how to purchase tickets for yourself.

Thank you Good Life Vancouver & Swallowtail! I am looking forward to Saturday!

Also, Dine Out Vancouver is beginnig soon! January 20-February 5. I have been trying to decide on a restaurant.. and keep changing my mind! Have you dined out at a restaurant on the list? What would be your pick? The restaurants are divided into 18/28/38$ menus in three or four courses. Last year we went with Adam’s family to EBO, and it was absolutely delicious. I saw their menu this year, but I’m not sure if it’s something I wanted to try.

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