Saturday, January 3, 2015

*shhhhhh* This recipe is a secret! And blessings jar tradition.

Hi, everybody! I first posted this recipe in October 2012 and now it's time for a repost and an update!

Here we go:
A few years ago I went to a reception and there were these brownies that defied description. But I'll try... They were chocolate chunk, with some kind of cream cheese inside, and dark chocolate layer half way through. Within minutes, we were all asking each other "who brought those brownies"????
(These are not the brownies.)

 We were in for a terrible shock. The woman who had brought the brownies, couldn't give us the recipe... because her son was a dessert chef visiting from LA and she had begged him to make her some. He was bound by contract not to sell the brownies, or to share the recipe. NO KIDDING!

 Now, I have a friend who also defies description. (Ha!) She recently moved to Montana, so by the time she reads this, I'll be safe. Or at least be getting a head start. I think she said it took her 14 hours to drive back here. Time for me to get a good lock on the door.

  Because I'm about to share the SECRET RECIPE for her German apple cake. This is a revenge post. She used to torment me with the cake, and then say she couldn't give me the deets because her German Baptist relatives would put out a hit on her.

  But one day- one glorious day- I got THIS in my Christmas card. Now, I know it's right out of a magazine, but you can't see are the tiny comments written in there. This is where the gold is for the beginner baker. Like getting that old textbook with all the shortcuts written in the margins!

Edna is always up for a daring adventure so we got out our ingredients. (Of course, if my friend brings the goon squad, I'm not really sure I can run with Edna. But I'll put her in the Red Flyer wagon. That would work...)

So, 3 eggs
       2 cups sugar
        1 cup oil (here there's a little note that says 1/2 cup oil, 1/2 cup butter melted)
        1 tsp vanilla extract ( maple!)
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda (3/4 tsp says the note)
1/2 tsp salt
4 cups chopped tart apple (note says two large, which was about 3 cups)
 and 3/4 cup pecans (note says one cup)

And cream cheese frosting, which we didn't put on. not because it wasn't good, but because we didn't really need it. It was perfect!!

Edna did really well with the whole butter/oil/ egg mess. Ew. She's a toughie.

Mmmmm, we get apples by the box right from the packing shed. $10 for an assorted box. Gala, Granny Smith, Red Delicious, Golden, and Fuji.  If you can stand the sight of semis and forklifts and skid steers roaring past you, it's a great way to save money. And since I have four little boys, it's more like a field trip than grocery shopping.

       Folding in the 3/4 cups pecans and the apples. The batter is very thick. Fewer apples and more nuts make it a very dense batter.
Mmmmmmm. 350 for 55 minutes and you get this! Perfection!

 While it cooked, Edna was reminiscing all about her fling with a Canadian Mountie. I think it was the maple extract that got her going. It was a wonderful story, full of rugged men and horses and wooden crates full of straw (surprisngly comfy, says she). But then he was gone so much, she felt neglected. Just left spinning her beaters for days on end. It was time to move on.
So, I'm setting the table for guests because I know how the internet works. As soon as the news gets out that Edna and I have spilled the famous apple cake recipe, there will be a knock at the door.

  Look at that! Who could resist? We'll get them loaded up on tea and cake and make a break for the back door. If you see a middle aged woman chugging down the sidewalk with a gleaming Sunshine Mixmaster in a battered Red Flyer wagon, for heaven's sake, stop and give me a ride. And if you're really nice, I just might tell you the other recipe I've been SWORN not to reveal.

  Until next time... I hope.

UPDATE: Well, it's been two years and my friend has not yet carried through on her threat so I thought I'd push my luck... and post this again! Plus, she's in town visiting, so I'll be sure to accidentally open this post while she's over for coffee. (Kidding! I'm not that brave.)

A tradition we have in my family is our "blessings jar". We decorate the jar with the year, and then put it on a shelf in plain sight. Through the year, we write wonderful things that have happened and put them in the jar.  They can be as big as a new baby, or new book, or as small (but equally important) as losing a first tooth, potty training, or learning to write a name for the first time. On New Year's Eve, we open the jar and read them all aloud. It's amazing the beautiful blessings that have happened... and that we sometimes forget.

(Oh, funny! I just realized after posting this picture... the same friend of the secret recipe cake appears in this picture. Well, her Christmas 2014 gift, does. The babushka nesting dolls to the left are actually measuring cups.  Isn't that a clever idea? )

Hoping everyone had a wonderful end of the year! I'm loving all the visits from friends near and far, and being able to hug relatives that have not been in the area for years. It's a blessed time and I pray everyone is enjoying the beginning of 2015!


  1. Happy New Year, Virginia!

    And I have yet to try this apple cake :( But that's one thing I love about rerun posts - we get little nudges to remind us to print out that tempting recipe THIS time!

    We had a quiet New Year's and Christmas. No visitors, but our family was together. And since the youngest is leaving the nest for the first time (an eight-month internship) and our children are the ages they are, we CHERISH the time we can spend together!

    1. yes, how exciting! I loved reading about your year in the Christmas card you sent! I always say I'll send cards. And every year I buy them. I have stacks and stacks of beautiful Christmas cards. It's just not something I ever do. (Well, maybe once in ten years. And I wonder what was happening that year that helped me get it done??)
      And yes... CHERISH is a good word. Right now, my two youngest are riding their new scooters down the hallway, pulling a hard right, and zooming down another hallway past our antique grandfather clock. It's snowing outside so I'm thinking I'll let that go a few more minutes. So much energy in these little people!

  2. Well now, isn't this timely. I have some apples languishing in my fridge and I was thinking about making an apple cake but I've never made an apple cake before and where would I find a recipe for such a thing? Yankee Belle Café of course! And so glad to see Edna again. Hope she's enjoying her retirement. Do wish her a Happy New Year for me, won't you? Oh -- and the blessing jar. Incredibly wonderful idea!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What a tradition. I'm stealing it.

    1. Steal away! A friend sent me an e-mail with the idea about five years ago. And the new jar was just decorated (painted by the youngest so it has a volcano on one side and a moon on the other). It already has two slips inside: "new good things jar" and "(friend) stays the night".
      Edna is loving her retirement! She shows off several kitschy pot-holders and also keeps the best chocolate in the house right under her nose. We all know whom to visit when we need some Lindt truffles or Milka bars.

  3. I remember loving this whole thing two years ago, and when did the years start moving so quickly.


    I love your humor and the great way that Edna has gracefully shared her shelf space with newfangled and shinier friends.

    But there is only one Edna.

    I'm going out in freezing rain to feed the chickens. Right now I don't like them, but.... duty calls.

    Yes, I'm being a big baby! :)

    1. Wellllll, I actually gave Thor to Cassey, our old babysitter because he was just too big for me. This old kitchen had only one outlet at his height but he didn't fit under the cabinet, so I had to carry his heavy carcass across the kitchen when I wanted to use him. Also, the only spot where he would sit was on the side of old farmhouse sink we have, so I was always afraid I'd drop him and chip the enamel. Cassey loves Thor and uses him several times a week!
      So, Edna is retired... but she still does the occasional cake or two. :)

    2. And agreed on the chickens and freezing rain. It's snowing here and our chickens are toasty warm but when I have go out there, I like to remind them that summer is coming and I'm expecting lots of eggs.

  4. The was such a fun post. It was like a little novella. I am going to go shout to the world about this post.

    1. LOL. Shout away. Maybe I can apply this into my word count for the day? Probably not...

  5. looks yummy!

  6. What is with you people and chickens.

    1. Let's see... they are completely self-contained (you don't have to walk them, pet them, cut their hair or trim their nails) and they give you EGGS!