Because it’s almost Halloween, I thought I’d do something different for today’s blog post.
I grew up close to Tarrytown, NY near where the Dutch settled in the mid-seventeenth century and the story of Ichabod Crane and his headless horseman took place. We took many school trips to Tarrytown in the fall, but I never got tired of wandering around the old cemeteries, Revolutionary War skirmish sites, and throwing apples at the tree where Major Andre was supposedly hanged. (I don’t remember why we did that!) Anyway, I especially loved the bonfires with the live readings of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Washington Irving’s famous short story. After the reading, we’d go to a nearby inn where we’d drink hot cider and eat apple cakes and ginger cakes.
Why those two cakes? Because they’re mentioned in the story when Washington Irving gives us a wonderful description of the Van Tassel feast. Here is the open source passage:
“Fain would I pause to dwell upon the world of charms that burst upon the enraptured gaze of my hero, as he entered the state parlor of Van Tassel’s mansion. Not those of the bevy of buxom lasses, with their luxurious display of red and white; but the ample charms of a genuine Dutch country tea-table, in the sumptuous time of autumn. Such heaped up platters of cakes of various and almost indescribable kinds, known only to experienced Dutch housewives! There was the doughty doughnut, the tender oly koek, and the crisp and crumbling cruller; sweet cakes and short cakes, ginger cakes and honey cakes, and the whole family of cakes. And then there were apple pies, and peach pies, and pumpkin pies; besides slices of ham and smoked beef; and moreover delectable dishes of preserved plums, and peaches, and pears, and quinces; not to mention broiled shad and roasted chickens; together with bowls of milk and cream, all mingled higgledy-piggledy, pretty much as I have enumerated them, with the motherly teapot sending up its clouds of vapor from the midst—Heaven bless the mark! I want breath and time to discuss this banquet as it deserves, and am too eager to get on with my story. Happily, Ichabod Crane was not in so great a hurry as his historian, but did ample justice to every dainty.”
When I was growing up, it wasn’t uncommon for local restaurants to serve “Ichabod Crane’s Last Meal” which included roasted chickens, homemade jams, and freshly-made cakes and pies. So today, in honor of the season, I’m giving you my grandmother’s recipe for Dutch Apple Cake, similar to the one Ichabod Crane ate in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, not long before he met his fate with the headless horseman. I hope you enjoy it!
Dutch Apple Cake
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 2 eggs
- 8 Macoun apples, peeled, cored, and diced*
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F) Cream sugar and butter until creamy and a light yellow color. Beat in the eggs–but don’t overbeat. Stir in the diced apples. With a heavy wooden spoon, stir in the flour, nutmeg, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. Mix well. Pour into a greased bundt pan** and bake at 350 degrees (F) about 45 minutes. Cool in pan for 45 minutes and turn out. Serves 12.
*Macoun apples, grown in the Hudson River Valley, are the best apples for this cake. But they are hard to find. So if you can’t find them, use your favorite, crisp semi-sweet apple. If using a more sour apple, like granny smith, add a bit more sugar.
**This recipe can be baked in any pan–bundt, 9×11″, round springform pan, etc.–just watch the baking time so it doesn’t overcook and dry out.
Sharon Wray is a librarian who once studied dress design in the couture houses of Paris and now writes about the men in her Amazon bestselling Deadly Force romantic suspense series where ex-Green Berets meet their match in smart, sexy heroines who teach these alpha males that Grace always defeats Reckoning.
Her bestselling debut book EVERY DEEP DESIRE, a sexy, action-packed retelling of Romeo and Juliet, is about an ex-Green Beret determined to regain his honor, his freedom, and his wife. It’s available at: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | IndieBound| Kobo| Google | Books-a-Million | Audible
Her second book, ONE DARK WISH, a passionate redemption of Othello with a HEA, is about an ex-Green Beret who must give up the woman he loves in order to redeem his honor and save the life of his men. It’s available at: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | iBooks | Google | Kobo |IndieBound | Audible
Her third book, IN SEARCH OF TRUTH, is about an ex-Green Beret desperate to win back the woman he loves and save the men he betrayed, even if he must make the greatest sacrifice. It’s available at: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | iBooks| Google | Kobo | IndieBound | Audible