My grandmother had an apple orchard. There were approximately fifty trees behind her pink mobile home. In the valley just below her cozy tin can, my grandfather George built a place to store the bushels of fruit. Within this cool, dark cavern the apples were stored on crates upon wooden shelves. There were no real walls inside the cave. Bare roots from trees above lined the attic- like walls like veins upon the heart of Mother Nature. The smell of the cave was sweet and tangy.
Growing up in an apple orchard made one weary of the forbidden fruits. When summer rolled around and Meme needed to get rid of all the apples from last season, she would bake this apple cake. With the aroma like an apple pie but with all the sweetness of a cake, her “Holiday Cake”, is the most unusual and delightful of recipes I have ever followed.
My mother has made this cake for decades– long after that apple orchard and Meme were gone. For years I have asked her to write it down for me.
“Oh sure, I’ll write it down and mail it to you,” she promised years ago.
Mom seemed as though she were guarding a secret family recipe. Finally while on the phone today, Mom agreed to pull out the faded, brown piece of paper on which my grandmother had written down the ingredients and read them aloud to me:
2 C. Sugar
2/3 C. Crisco Shortening
2 tsp. Vanilla extract
1 tsp. Cinnamon
3 C. Flour
2 tsp. Baking Soda
Pinch of Salt
6 C. Chopped Apples
The Crunchy Topping:
2/3 C. Brown Sugar
1/3 C. Flour
1 Stick of Butter (Softened)
1 C. Walnuts (Chopped)
I didn’t bother asking mom the step by step process. I think I remember watching Meme do it. That was almost 40 years ago. I mixed the shortening, eggs, vanilla with an electric mixer. In a separate bowl I blended the remainder of the dry ingredients before adding the apples.
Place the glob in a well- greased pan and apply the topping.
Bake for 55 minutes at 350.
This is what farmers with caves of apples do with so much fruit without tiring of its forbidden nature.