How often do you find yourself at the grocery stores these days? I haven’t shopped in over two weeks and now I see that the supply of fresh foods in the refrigerator is scarce. Some of the fruits are coming close to their expiration dates and it is clear that they will not all be consumed in their natural states. For this reason, I wanted to see how I could best make use of the supplies—specifically the apples and sour cream.
Through an online ingredients search, I determined that the best concoction for my ingredients would be an apple cake. Sour cream is often used in cakes to add moisture and creaminess. I don’t normally buy sour cream. In fact, I was interested in plain yogurt for baking, however, shortages led me one shelf over to the sour cream section on the wall of dairy. Sour cream is a perfect—if not unhealthier—substitute. I ended up settling on an “apple sour cream coffee cake” recipe. The cake was easy enough to make, however, I amended the recipe a little, because I lacked a few ingredients. Instead of using unsalted butter, I used a vegan imitation (it was all that was available at the grocery story). Also, instead of honey crisp apples and pecans, I used gala apples and walnuts because of availability. Overall, my creation turned out to be very tasty, however, I have some thoughts about the recipe.
The recipe states the oven time to be about 50 minutes, however, there is a note that one should check on the cake at around 30 – 35 minutes. I’m glad that I noted this little piece of advice, because my cake displayed a perfect light brown at 40 minutes flat.
This is a cake with sour cream, it wasn’t designed to be healthy, however, I feel that the quantity of added sugar was way too much. The topping of the cake comprised a half cup of granulated sugar, two teaspoons of cinnamon, and a half cup of finely chopped pecans (or in my case crudely crumbled walnuts). Holding the half cup of sugar in my hands and seeing the small cake made me feel like a barbarian about wreak havoc on an innocent village. Instead of dumping the sugar on the cake, I sprinkled some of the cinnamon sugar sparingly across the batter. I looked over the reviews of the coffee cake recipe and saw that others had similar concerns to mine and complained of a cake that was too sweet. I decided to bag the remaining cinnamon sugar that I did not use and save it for another baking project.
This recipe advertised itself as an “apple sour cream coffee cake,” yet, the presence of apple was more noticeable in the texture than in the taste. The cake was delicious—the middle was soft and spongy, the topping added a delightful crunchiness, and the taste was rich and pleasantly sweet—however, the taste of apple was almost absent. Unless I really focused my senses on identifying the apple taste, it eluded me. I enjoyed the cake regardless, however, in the future I would consider decorating the top with thinly sliced apple pieces to get more of the apple-ness that this fluffy mound could surely offer.
Baking continues to be a source of entertainment for me during the pandemic. ‘Curiosity to try new things’ and ‘creativity to experiment’ are two qualities that make any situation more bearable. Even when I only have a few ingredients left, I’m sure I will think of new and unusual ways to combine them.
I hope each of your days, Dear Reader, includes a healthy dose of curiosity and creativity as well as a sprinkle of sweetness even from the comfort of your own home.