Most people who know me today would have a hard time believing this but there was a time when I didn’t cook or bake. I ate out at least twice a day and if I cooked at all it was open the can, dump into the pan and heat kind of thing. I totally bought into the idea that cooking was too complicated and time consuming, especially if you were cooking for just yourself.
So what changed? I changed when I found Mollie Katzen’s The Moosewood cookbook and The Enchanted Broccoli Forest on the library shelves. These cookbooks were unlike anything I had ever seen before. First of all they were vegetarian. I wasn’t vegetarian but the idea of meatless meals intrigued me. Second, all the recipes were handwritten and the illustrations hand drawn. The books were just beautiful to look at. There was something about these cookbooks that pulled me into the kitchen.
I don’t remember the first recipe I ever tried from the cookbooks except for the fact I didn’t really like it. The next recipe I tried, Italian tomato sauce, became one of my all-time favorites and was the first recipe I ever adapted for small batches. The more I cooked from The Moosewood Cookbook and Enchanted Broccoli Forest the more I discovered I enjoyed cooking and baking and I was pretty good at it which drew me into the kitchen even more. Today I cook and bake almost every day.
Mollie Katzen inspired me to start cooking 15 years ago and she still inspires me to cook today. This recipe incorporates one of my favorite fall fruits, fresh cranberries, into a very moist, spiced cake. Unlike most cakes, the batter is very thick so take care to spread the batter evenly into the pan. I love this cake plain but it would also be good with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Cranapple Walnut Cake
¾ cup plus 2 TBS packed brown sugar
4 TBS canola oil
1 large egg
½ tsp vanilla
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp salt
1 medium apple, peeled and thinly sliced
¼ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup fresh whole cranberries
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 6” cake pan with non stick cooking spray. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, oil, and vanilla. Stir well to combine. Add the egg to the wet ingredients; stir well to combine. In another small bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt until blended. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, stirring until combined. Fold in the fruits and nuts. The batter will be very thick. Spread the batter into the prepared pan, taking your time spreading it into place. Bake on the center rack of the oven 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Adapted from Mollie Katzen’s The Heart of the Plate