Visiting and Exploring
Last Wednesday, I drove to my friend Emily’s house in Milwaukee. The route was about five and a half hours of rolling hills, farm land, brightly colored trees and smooth highway. In Milwaukee, I spent a lovely few days with Emily and her husband Jon. They have a cute little apartment in this city with a river on one side and a great lake on the other. We ate good food, took walks, played scrabble, made this amazing s’mores pie and enjoyed each others company. Oh yeah, and I brought this cake which we enjoyed for dessert the first night I was there.
I’ll get back to the cake in a minute, but this little bit of travel has gotten me thinking. Living somewhere new and visiting new places in the United States makes me realize just how big this country is. Going someplace totally different and foreign can be a bit mind-boggling for me. It is amazing but also hard to fathom, sometimes, how we all live so differently on this earth. On the other hand, visiting and exploring places that are familiar in language, architecture, and climate makes me really think about all the places full of people living lives vaguely similar to mine.
You would think that bicycling across the United States would have given me a good sense of how big this country is, but when you are going one day at a time for weeks, it’s hard to comprehend that you have ridden from one coast to the other. I find that encountering a new place piques my curiosity and makes me think about all the places I might never see and the people I’ll never know, but they are out there, living their lives.
And some of these people out there (you) are reading this blog. Too bad, I can’t just cut you a slice of this cake and hand it to you across the table as we get to know each other in person, but I wanted to share it with you anyway. I’ve been thinking about an applesauce cake for a while, so I was glad to have the opportunity to make it for my visit with friends. Its full of the autumnal flavors I love this time of year, but not too heavy or sugary. You could leave off the frosting and it would make a simple and classic coffee cake. It is reminiscent of this fall cake, clearly I am a total sucker for spices and cream cheese frosting.
Applesauce Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Gourmet. I used less sugar than the recipe calls for since my applesauce was sweet and I knew the frosting would be, too.
For the cake
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 -3/4 cup sugar (depending on the sweetness of your applesauce and your preference of sweetness)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups applesauce
1 cup chopped walnuts , toasted
For the Frosting
5 ounces cream cheese
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon milk
Preheat the oven to 350′. Butter an 8-9 inch square pan (or a 9 inch springform pan, which is what I used). Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves in a small bowl until combined. Beat butter and sugar until soft and fully combined, add eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add applesauce, mix until incorporated. Add flour mixture and stir at a slow speed until mixed. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 40 – 45 minutes. After baking, let cake cool fully before icing.
To make the frosting: cream cheese, butter and vanilla on high speed until fluffy. Add confectioners sugar and cinnamon and beat on low speed. Add milk as needed and beat until the frosting is smooth and creamy. Spread frosting over cake and enjoy!