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Long winter holiday weekends make me crave sweet, salty, creamy, crunchy things. Not necessarily in the same dish.

Basically, winter just makes me want to eat. It helps offset the bone-chilling winds and below freezing temperatures.

After a hectic past few weeks, I decided to spend the weekend eating out – part of self-care involves letting other people taking care of you at times, or spending some money to make life easier, so I embraced the combination of the two. But that didn’t stop me from reminiscing about yummy things I’ve made in the past.

Like this Cinnamon Apple Cake. I made it back in November when local apples were still plentifully in season.

It starts with flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda. Some recipes will call for you to sift these ingredients to avoid any lumps. I just whisk them together, and all is still right with the world. Or at least in the bowl.

Cinnamon and cardamom join the party.

In a separate bowl, sugar and softened butter are wed in culinary bliss…

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…and are creamed together until they are pale yellow.

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Eggs are thrown into the mix. My eggs had shells that were a beautiful pastel green color…isn’t that cool?

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Rich, tangy buttermilk rounds out the lineup…

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…along with a couple of teaspoons of vanilla extract. I always add a few extra splashes of vanilla. It’s my happy flavoring.

But you can probably tell that from the drippy stains on the bottle.

At this point, I suppose I warn you about the perils of eating raw batter and to discourage you from licking the spoon, since there are raw eggs in there and all.

But…do I as I say, not as I do. I can’t help myself. This was too perfect not to swipe.

The batter gets transferred to a greased baking dish. Or cake pan. Whatever you’ve got.

Ah, apples. They just make me happy. I have a deep affection for Gala apples, so tasty raw or cooked, and Honeycrisp, which are the juiciest variety I’ve ever eaten. But you can use whichever kind makes you happy.

The apples are sliced…

…and neatly arranged on top of the batter. Or as neatly possible. I’m still working on my perfection skills.

The aromatic combination of cinnamon and sugar dust the apples, the crowning glory on this cake.

For the next 45 minutes or so (depending on the size of your dish/pan) the cake bakes in at 375 degree oven, and it acts as the best room perfume ever. Kitchen, you smell so good.

The cake tastes pretty good too.

Light and moist with tender crumbs, its warmth will hold me over until spring comes. I cannot wait to make it again.

For the full recipe, visit joythebaker.com.

Whenever I’m in Chicago, which sadly isn’t very often, I always visit The Original Pancake House for breakfast.  It’s a chain of restaurants throughout the US – in 26 states – that I’d never heard of until a friend suggested I go there when I was in the Windy City on business.

My favorite thing to order is the house specialty, the oven-baked Apple Pancake.  It is monstrous in size.  And yummy in taste.

Wanting to enjoy an apple pancake at home, I set out to find a recipe that would satisfy a craving even when a Chicago-bound trip wasn’t around the bend. I scoured the internet, combined a couple recipes, added a few tweaks and came up with a final product that makes me happy. It’s a bit more eggy and a little less sweet than the Original Pancake House’s is, but I like it that way.  Sometimes called a “Dutch Baby Pancake” or a “German Apple Pancake”, I just call it delicious.

Baked Apple Pancake (Adapted from allrecipes.com)

Batter

  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 cup milk (soy or almond milk can be substituted)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (I sometimes use Earth Balance vegan spread)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Apple Mixture of Goodness

  • 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon unsalted butter, or more if needed (Earth Balance works here too)
  • 1/2 cup sugar, divided
  • 4 apples – peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, blend eggs, flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Gradually mix in milk, stirring constantly. Add vanilla, melted butter and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg. Let batter stand for 30 minutes to overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Saute apples in a teaspoon of butter (or more, if the pan is looking a little dry) until just tender, with a sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar to taste, if desired. (You can also saute the apples up to a day ahead, refrigerating them and the batter separately, and complete the rest of the steps just before baking.)
  4. Grease a baking dish or oven proof skillet (about 10 inches or so) with the tablespoon of butter, evenly covering all the way up the sides of the pan. In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg. Sprinkle mixture in the dish over the butter. (You may not need to use all of the mixture; if that’s the case, just set aside for another time.)
  5. Line the pan with apple slices. Sprinkle remaining sugar over apples.  Gently pour the batter mixture over the apples.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for approximately 25-30 minutes (time may vary with each oven), or until golden brown.  Let cool for 5-10 minutes.  Cut pancake into wedges and enjoy!

For more information on The Original Pancake House, visit http://www.originalpancakehouse.com/.

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