Celibacy at The Wall seems less harsh knowing that the Night’s Watch is occasionally partaking in warm applecakes for breakfast. And thensome, as I understand it.
As part of my attempting to bake something new every so often–and employing my recently acquired A Feast of Ice and Fire–I undertook another journey to Westeros, this time moving north to the cold, cold reaches of The Wall. Some sights include blocks of ice that scale to a stupendous height, breathtaking views–in that they literally knock your breath off due to the freezing temperatures and lack of atmosphere at the top–and the wildling dominion, rife with giants, wargs, Craster’s wives, and white walkers.
Oh, and did I mention you can have a piece of applecake before heading up that rickety wooden elevator?
As a result of my family’s penchant towards apple-picking this time of year, fresh, tart apples were definitely common commodities in the household. After a heavy dosage of apple pie, I still had a few Granny Smiths left over to attempt a different recipe. This is where the notion of applecakes came in. Now, according to Ms. Monroe-Cassel and Ms. Lehrer, the Westerosi version of applecakes would need more prepping time than the modern version. When I saw that the medieval version would need to be fried, I opted for the more healthy (read: less tedious) baking method.
These applecakes include the use of the following ingredients: 1 cup of butter, 1 cup of sugar (I used brown, but granulated works as well), 2 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 2 cups flour (I used all-purpose and unbleached, but that’s my preference), 1 tsp each of baking powder and baking soda (frankly, I’m surprised this went well, considering my baking soda might need to be replaced), 1/2 tsp salt, 1 cup sour cream (for that soft moistness, as apples tend to dry out the cakes, at least, in my experience), and of course, the tart apples (I used three medium-sized Granny Smiths, the more, the better!).
The topping employs 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 2 tbsp unsalted butter (cut into small cubes and unmelted), and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts. I did change this up a bit, as I used only 1/2 cup brown sugar, and added 1/2 tsp nutmeg (because honestly, one cannot have cinnamon without nutmeg!). I also didn’t have any walnuts at the house, so I substituted ground pecans (which, personally, are much more awesome nut-wise).
I did not have the big, muffin-cup trays that the authors suggested I use to bake these applecakes, but I did have cupcake trays, which worked just as well. The big change is that I lessened the baking time by 10 minutes (from 30 to 20), just so that the cakes themselves didn’t dry out. In the end, this worked wonderfully. My only caveat is that I was not liberal enough with the toppings, so I wound up with a lot of leftover sugar-cinnamon-pecan topping at the end. I also don’t think the butter is really that necessary at the top, so I might actually try the recipe again without.
All in all, once they were out of the oven, they went great with a cup of coffee and milk/cream.
Verdict: Delicious warm, remained soft cold, devoured voraciously by the immediate family. This is definitely one recipe to keep using, and one to include for the upcoming Game of Thrones feast I plan to throw at the premiere of season 4.
I’d say this stuff might be worth taking the black, as it were.