Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Mary Cogan's Apple Cake

Apple Cake
(Paula Deen's version)
Last Saturday when I was mozy-ing around Greenfield Center, New York, checking out garage sales, I didn't accomplish much.  Well, I didn't buy anything, but the time spent was well worth it.  It was a gorgeous morning, crisply-cool with a brilliant blue sky overhead.  I drove around craning my neck toward this driveway, then that, annoying the heck out of the drivers behind me on Middle Grove Road!  First I stopped at my co-worker and friend Mary Wright's house on South Greenfield Road.  We hung out for a while and chatted while people came and went.  It was evident that morning that one man's trash is another man's treasure, as my mom Virginia O'Farrell used to say ("man" meant everyone, then).  I was on the look-out for a bundt pan (could always use another) and a next-to-new easy chair to be reinvented.  I didn't find either, but what I did find, on Canyon Crossing, were my old friends, the Parkers.  I thought I'd stop for a few minutes and then continue my quest.  I stayed for four hours, sitting on lawn chairs in their driveway, chatting with Susan, Tom, and their beautiful daughter Christi, while shoppers stopped and moved on.  Christi's three little children were playing with the toys for sale, as if they were seeing them for the first time.  It was a great afternoon!

Meghan Eddy and Christi Parker

I first met Tom and Susan Parker in May of 1988 when we were constructing the Greenfield Elementary School Playground, a huge project that brought the whole community together for a week of intensive construction under the supervision of the Robert Leathers architectural firm.  The Parker family had just moved to Greenfield from Connecticut.  Before they even settled in, Tom was on the site of the new playground, hammering away.  My daughter Meghan and their daughter Christi were seven years old at the time and became fast and forever friends. 

While we were reminiscing out there on the driveway, I mentioned that I spent the early morning searching for apple cake recipes on the internet.  Susan told me the story of her favorite apple cake, one that she purchased at a fund raiser for Saint Peters Academy (now Spa Catholic) when her kids were students there.  She bought the cake and it was so good they tore it apart on the way home and ate it like that!  She was so impressed with the cake that she asked who had made it, wanting the recipe.  It was made by our mutual friend Mary Cogan.  A few days later, there was a knock on her door, and there stood Mary, apple cake in hand!  Anyone who knows Mary won't be surprised by this story.  She is one of the most generous, gracious people on this earth.  So, thanks to Susan for the wonderful story, and to Mary for the recipe!

(The cake photo above is from the Food Network Site, which accompanies Paula Deen's own recipe for apple cake .  The photo of Meghan and Christi comes from a field trip to Lake George in third grade, most likely taken by me or ). 


(two loaves or one tube pan)
1 ½ cup cooking oil
2 cups sugar
3 well beaten eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
3 cps flour, I usually use half white and wheat, but all white is fine too
1 tsp soda
1tsp salt
1tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ground cloves (optional)
3 cups chopped apple
1 cup pecans (optional)

Mix oil and sugar. Add beaten eggs and vanilla. Sift together flour, soda, salt and spices. Add to oil mixture. Fold in peeled apples. Bake in greased and floured tube pan at 350 for at least one hour. I will be done when it comes lose from sides of the pan and is solid in the center. Much depends on juice in apples. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Invert on cake dish and ice with caramel icing. Can be iced while warm.

I’ve included the recipe for the icing, although I have never used it. I usually just sprinkle a bit of confectioner’s sugar on the cake.
I often bake this cake in 2 bread pans. It’s a great dessert or special breakfast bread. It’s even better the next day.

Caramel Icing:

½ cup sugar
½ cup water

In skillet or heavy pan, brown sugar until completely melted and golden brown. Add the ¼ water.

In another boiler cook 3 cup sugar, 1 stick margarine and 2/3 cup evaporated milk. Add this mixture to caramelized sugar in skillet and cook until soft ball stage. Beat until cool and ice cake.

Photo Credit:  http://recipes.pauladeen.com/images/uploads/Grandgirls_Fresh_Apple_Cake.jpg

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