Tuesday, November 13, 2018

It Takes Patience

Allow me to introduce our horse, Patience.  She's an approximately 8-year-old quarter horse mare, with some debate about whether she is a Paint (Sabino, specifically, with white splashes on her belly) or a chestnut. 



She's exactly 14.2 hands high, which makes her a big pony or a small horse.  She has two really distinctive marks:  a horse-head brand on her thigh and a unicorn-shaped white splash on her belly (I can't remember which sides, left or right, for either of these.)









She comes to us via Sis's old riding school from a horse farm in Vermont, where she lived outside on a mountain.  Now she's at a new barn, where she mainly lives outside in a paddock either by herself or with another mare.  She isn't so fond of male horses; she kicked one at the old barn who had bitten her (both were okay in the end.)  There is a "fan club" trio of male horses who watch her at the new barn, their heads swiveling in unison at the young mare; even the donkeys like watching her.  As Sis's old riding coach said, "You horse has a nice ass!" 


She is very patient in the aisle when she's being groomed and harnessed or unharnessed; we wonder if that's how she got her name.  She throws her head when the saddle goes on before a ride and yawns a few times when the bit comes out afterwards.  She has been feistier recently, perhaps because of the fan club, and even tossed Sis off for the first time on Saturday when she was startled by the truck of a neighbor of the farm.

Sis loves her completely (her yawns, her fluff, her scent, her soft nose, her wiggly lips, etc etc etc) and especially loves taking pictures of her derpy (silly or dopey) side.  And Mama and I are becoming horse lovers, too.  Mama is even thinking of riding.



How could we not love that face?

Of Demons and Angels

"We were so worried about our dad on Saturday.  He was thrashing about and yelling things.  Totally not like himself.  He was possessed.  But then someone from our church came and prayed.  And the demons tormenting him left.  So we've kept up the prayers and he's been okay." 

I had never personally heard demons discussed in a literal manner before.  Metaphorical ones, sure.  And many friends believe that angels watch over them, especially deceased love ones.  But real demons?  No.  And my logical, rational mind kept thinking, "It's not unusual for dying people to have terrors and outbursts.  And then, with medications, they do settle down."  Just Google end-of-life anxiety.  It doesn't happen to everyone, but it happens, in varying degrees, some much more powerful than others. 

I think I underestimate the number of people who believe the supernatural world is as common as the natural one.  For me, it's just entertainment on television, our favorite series "Supernatural" about ghosts, werewolves, vampires, angels, demons.  Like "X-Files" and "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer" with two handsome brothers kicking butt with heart and humor each week.  But these two sisters as hospice truly believed a demon had inhabited their father on the way to hospice and had made him act out until the special prayers exorcised the demons.

And they weren't even Catholic!  I had only thought of exorcisms with respect to the Roman Catholic Church (when I wasn't thinking of the 1970s movie or our tv show.)  I checked in with our chaplain, the priest, who said there was a huge belief in demons in the evangelical church.  These Christians believe in deliverance (yep, I hear banjos and I haven't even seen that movie!), the idea of being delivered from demons via prayers and such and of needing to actively avoid being contaminated by demons.  This is why you hear that Harry Potter, Halloween costumes, rock and roll, yoga, etc., are tools of the devil.  There are even lists, like the one that appeared in my inbox recently:


I think I can tick off more than a few of those, including Eastern Religions, Meditation, Vegetarianism, Postmodernism, LOTR, Video Games, Harry Potter, Halloween, Fornication, Rock Music, and, yes, I've even seen Twilight!  And I have experienced, at least once, Palmistry, Tarot, Ouija, Wicca, Earth Worship, Divination, Dungeons and Dragons, too.  But I've never been a vampire or a werewolf (Lycanthropy.)  

I must admit to some cultural and spiritual prejudice--I really never believed people actually thought music invited the devil.  It's like a superstition out of the dark ages. Yes, the kids have friends who can't celebrate Halloween because it's satanic, but I figured that was a one-off.  How wrong I am, how small my world sometimes.  

And I don't really know what to do with it all.  I don't believe in demons, just like I don't believe in hell.  To be fair, I don't just reject the negative; I don't believe in angels or heaven either.  My world is decidedly not supernatural.  

But what if the supernatural is just the natural we haven't come to understand yet?  What invisible forces exist that we don't understand, like Chi or Chakras?  We've only recently come to understand x-rays, bacteria, atoms, radio waves, microwaves, Wi-Fi; and yet, we do not give them a second thought.  I'm still not saying I believe in demons or heaven.  But what don't we know?

Just this week, the NYTimes published an article about the Placebo Effect and how there might actually be bio-chemical processes unrelated to prescribed medicine or surgeries that can result in healing.

And how do I explain my own healing?  I've written (here and here) about how my physical therapist used alternative treatments to heal my back injury when a variety of specialists in the tri-state area couldn't.  I did benefit from what she would call spiritual healing--a combo of accupressure, chakra alignment, Integrative Manual Therapy.  It won't surprise you that she believes in angels and demons.  I suppose I could call it the Placebo Effect, but I really can't explain it and am often uncomfortable reflecting on it, or more importantly, the implications of it.  If I can sit and walk because of energy healing, do I need to believe in angels and demons?  I can't make that leap.

But to push against my beliefs and expand my experiences, I recently attended a Reiki workshop at hospice.  Reiki is a type of energy meditation and healing that is frequently used by various caregivers in hospitals and hospices.  One of the chaplains at my old hospice used to offer it.  And yes, my PT has been trained in Reiki, too.  I know and believe in the benefits of Buddhist meditation so I thought I would learn more about Reiki, which does include chakra cleansing (chakras believed to be energy wheels in the body, represented by the colors of the rainbow, backwards, purple to red), which is beyond my usual rationalism.  It was an intriguing day, not only for the instruction, but also to hear from my fellow students--who believe not only in spiritual healing and energy work, but also angels, demons, ghosts, past-life regression, auras, Tarot, psychics, and mediums.  My mind couldn't wrap around those things.  BUT then I had a Reiki session from one of my classmates and she was drawn to my lower abdomen--completely without knowing of my multiple abdominal surgeries and three recent trips to the ER for severe abdominal pain.  Coincidence?  Educated guess?  And then, when I received attunement--yep, the instructor tuned me towards the chi--I saw these amazing flashes of deep blues, greens, and purples quite unexpectedly. 

Our teacher repeatedly said that Reiki was not dualistic, i.e. not good and bad, it just was, based on chi, the Chinese theory on energy in the body ("ki" is the Japanese spelling.)  She assured us that we could only do good things with Reiki, not hurt anyone.  Which is akin to believing in angels but not demons.  How does that work?  If Reiki can be used to help or heal, how come it can't be used to hurt?  Especially since it is isn't specifically considered a good force, just a natural one?  Nature causes hurt, depending on your perspective, but in itself is a neutral, balanced force--I watched a beautiful Cooper's Hawk devour one of our yard squirrels yesterday; neither good nor bad, in sum, just natural (certainly, from either the hawk or squirrel's vantage point, it would have been a good dinner or a bad evening!)  I think I'm overthinking it all.

But it does seem to keep popping up for me, even with regards to our upcoming trip to Thailand.  I've been reading about the animism that flows through Thai life, in addition to Buddhism and Hinduism, a belief in spirits everywhere.  We have even watched two Thai movies recently, Pee Mak and Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, which heavily featured ghosts.  A belief in spirits participating in everyday life is so common that, I read, taxi drivers put icons or altars on their dashboards and trust in spirits, to the point of not wearing seatbelts.  Que sera, sera. I checked in again with our Catholic chaplain, who does wear his seatbelt (and has also officiated at an exorcism, which was a force of evil like nothing he'd ever seen, certainly beyond any psychological issues that people bring to him regularly, he told me.  He doesn't see demons appearing regularly in the world, and certainly not because of yoga or music), and he said that God expects us to help ourselves.  Which reminds me of that story of the man dangling from the side of the cliff and praying to God for help, but refusing the climber and then helicopter that comes to his aid, saying he's waiting for God; when the man gets to heaven and confronts God, God said, "I sent you a climber and a helicopter!"  Or a seatbelt.  

Whew.  That's a lot.  And it's all been swirling around in my head.  Still, I tend to see the world as more natural than supernatural.  And I'm really more concerned about the human community in our world than anything else (both how we fare as people and what we do to the Earth and each other); that's the work in front of me.  But that human community includes people who believe in a whole range of forces.   I don't have a tidy way to sum it all up beyond this poor paraphrase:  there is more in the world and in people's beliefs than is dreamt of in my imaginings.  

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Our Gommie and Pop Visit

My parents have headed home after being in the northeast for about a month.  They visited upstate NY with a stop at Niagara Falls (too many tourists!) and time in the Adirondacks (beautiful color) and later northern Maine, including Acadia, and Vermont; no moose though. They were with us two for two long weekends, which we packed full of activities.

(And on the weekends that Gommie and Pop were away, we went to see the Faerie Villages, which were lovely and whimsical as always.)

I already told you about Applepalooza, our annual fall party with lots of tasty treats.  It was great to introduce my parents to all my friends and vice versa; I like to show them all off!   We also saw many of the kids' friends at their induction into the National Junior Honor Society.  The ceremony was short and sweet--our favorite--and it was fun to watch the teens bustle around taking photos, eating, and laughing afterwards.  I'm glad my parents could share in our pride at their academic accomplishments. 

Otherwise, they bounced back and forth between horses and kung fu.  Regular lessons and big events.  There was a big kung fu performance over the weekend.  Bud performed numerous forms, including Tong Bei (a hand form), spear, nine chain, three-staff, group broadsword, and group straight sword.  Twice.  Gommie and Pop enjoyed watching his skill and stamina.  And that evening, we all went out for a celebratory meal at The Place, an outdoor grilled shellfish place.  I picked up extra salads (potato, cole slaw, and a prosciutto pasta salad), some bread, and cookies to go along with the grilled corn, veggie kebabs, clams, mussels, steamers, and chicken we ordered.  A lovely evening together outside.


Gommie made several trips to the barn with Sis, getting to know Patience and the routine.  And Gommie even rode Patience!  She said she hadn't been on a horse since the 1950s.  It was wonderful and very impressive; she looked good. I love how my mom is always up to try anything and is so curious about the world around her.






Sis had her first away schooling show at a farm in central Connecticut, on what turned out to be a very cold day with huge wind gusts and chill below freezing.  It would have been okay, except we didn't quite prepare well enough (I didn't realize it was going to be so windy)--Sis was just in her show coat and shirt, not even winterized!  The day started for Sis at 4 am as she got up to head to the farm to prep her horse.  There were braids to loop, coats to brush, shipping wraps to affix, and all manner of blankets and gear to take (that horse has more blankets than I do--and I crochet them!)  We had a lot to learn and were a step behind (more Mama and me than Sis, who knows what she's doing) and tensions were high.  Not enough sleep or caffeine!  We caravanned to the site, at one point with 7 cars stuck behind the trailer and our 5 cars.  Once the horses were out and warming up, everyone settled.  And we realized the cold wind was only beginning to blow harder.  We braved the weather and saw Sis earn a ribbon in each of her events!  We are so proud of her.  And the horse!  Especially for her ribbon in jumping because this was the highest Sis has ever jumped--2 feet!  I didn't know she could do that.  But together, they did.  When the competition was over, Sis and Mama had to settle the horse at the home barn while Bud, the grandparents, and I took some down time.  And then we celebrated at hibachi.

We managed to do a few other things.  My parents were educated about BTS, watching a documentary on the K-pop phenomenon and seeing several BTS videos.  Bud danced for them and even Pop wiggled a bit!  (We also found a dance class for Bud, cemented by the fact that they were learning a routine to a BTS song while we were there!)  We had a couple of Mario Kart tournaments--it's Pop's favorite computer game.  He's getting better and even routinely placed in single digits.  And I scored my very first First Place, running Cheep Cheep Beach.  It's fun to play together.  And we laugh a lot.  We also took the kids out of school for a day and went for a hike at a local park, one of my favorites.  Except I managed to get us lost!  I made a wrong turn, adding an extra mile to our excursion.  So, not lost-lost, just more than we expected.  Even though the trees were still green, it was a delightful outing.

Pop found the gate post!  We've been to this park several times and have always
looked for the old cedar post mentioned in the didactic label.  Pop found it
a-ways off.


And of course we ate.  We always make time to eat.  Bud made his famous lasagna.  Mama made her delicious garlic chicken.  And we had apple cider doughnuts, Greek food at the diner, Peruvian food, Mexican food, pizza, ice cream, seafood, hibachi, to name a few.

Now it's quiet, less busy.  We probably all need to rest after the vacation!

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Another Applepalooza

One year at Applepalooza, it flurried; this year, it was nearly 80F and humid, with swarms of mosquitoes at the end.  But my parents were here, which made it doubly special.  And at least it wasn't raining!

Numerous friends and neighbors came, bringing all manner of tasty goodness--dumplings, cobblers, pie, and a delicious apple tart that one friend always brings.  I made Apple Cider Doughnut Cake #2, which was delicious; I'm having a bundt cake phase.  Sis made her Swedish Apple Pie, which disappeared early.  And my dad made his famous queso, which we gobbled up.

I think we've been doing this since 2008, skipping perhaps a year or two in there somewhere.  It's one of my favorite family traditions and autumn activities.  In the beginning, many of the guests were from our playgroup and so we had lots of preschoolers running about.  We also had a contingent of elderly church ladies, who are mostly dead now or unable to come; I miss them.  My parents have even been here for the party a few times; I like to show them off and introduce them to my friends, who think they're wonderful. 

And for the first time, really, the kids had their own troop of friends running around, which was nice.  And loud.  Many of them stayed til late.  See, after the apple party, some people came back to watch the premiere of Jodie Whitaker as Doctor Who, because we have BBCA.  More than a dozen of us squeezed into our living room, ate up the party leftovers, and sat mostly silently watching the show.  I loved her as the Doctor and look forward to the new season. 


-=-=-=-=-

Fruit Torte--Italian Apple Cake
Cream
¾       cup sugar
½       cup butter (unsalted or margarine)
Add
1                cup flour, sifted
pinch of salt
1               teaspoon baking power
2              eggs

Place in 9-inch ungreased spring form pan.  Add to top and cover entire surface with one of the following or a combination of:
24           halves pitted Italian Plums (skin side up)
1                pint blueberries
Sliced Apples
Sliced peaches
(In winter, frozen or canned blueberries or peaches may be substituted.  If using canned, drain and wash off syrup well.)

Sprinkle top with
1-2          Tablespoons sugar
1                Teaspoon or more Cinnamon
Drizzle lemon juice
Flour (if fruit is very juicy)

Bake at 350˚F for 40-45 minutes. 
Delicious when served with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.  Best served slightly warm.  Refresh in oven, if desired.


May be refrigerated or frozen for several months well wrapped.  Bring to room temperature and reheat @ 300˚ until warm.

from CA



Apple Cider Doughnut Cake #2 adapted from Martha Stewart

2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups oat flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

1 cup apple cider
3/4 cup applesauce
3/4 cup vegetable oil (I use safflower)
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract

topping
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Set oven to 350F
Generously butter and flour your bundt pan, making sure to get into all the nooks and crannies. Don't skip this step!
Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.
Whisk the wet ingredients together in a another bowl.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk until just combined, don't over mix.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out without wet batter clinging to it. Set the pan on a cooling rack for 15 minutes.
Stir the sugar and cinnamon together for the topping.
Invert the cake onto a plate. Brush with the melted butter, and sprinkle generously all over with the sugar.



Recipes I almost made . . . .


Apple Cider Doughnut Cake
Servings: 15 -18 slices - depending on how you cut them
Difficulty: easy
recipe slightly adapted from: Two In the Kitchen
Ingredients:
1/2 cup of unsalted butter, softened
2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
1 1/2 cups apple cider *(see information below)
1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted (you can substitute vegetable oil – but coconut tastes better!)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla bean paste (can substitute in extract if you don’t have paste…put get some paste, you won’t regret it!)
For the Cider Glaze:
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 cup water
1/8 – 1/4 cup hard cider *(see below for substitutions)
For the Cinnamon Sugar Coating:
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350ºF and spray a bundt pan with baking spray. (Recently I have had a couple of folks mention that they haven’t had much success with the baking spray saying that the cake stuck to the pan. Then I recently experienced the same thing myself. When I made the cake again the following day and greased the pan with butter & flour and the cake came out perfectly. Don’t know why this is, but just thought I’d share.)
In a medium saucepan, bring chopped apples and cider to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until apples are fork tender. About 10 to 12 minutes. Remove pan from heat, cool for a few minutes, then pulse in a food processor or blender until pureed. Measure out 1 cup apple mixture and stir the milk into it. Set the apple/milk mixture aside for later. (As for the remaining cider/apple puree, it is left over. I usually save it and put it over yogurt, or oatmeal. It is also fabulous heated slightly and drizzled over ice cream.)
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until incorporated. Add the oil and mix well. CAUTION: If you are planning on using coconut oil, make sure those eggs are at room temperature or slightly warmer if your house is chilly. If the eggs are cold and you add coconut oil to the mixture, the coconut oil will solidify and you will end up with a clumpy mess!
Add the flour mixture and apple/milk mixture alternatively in three additions, scraping the bowl as needed and mixing after each addition. Add the vanilla and beat once more, just to combine.
Scrape batter into prepared pan. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Place the cake in its pan on a cooling rack for ten minutes before removing the cake itself to a cooling rack for at least 30 minutes.
While cake is baking, prepare Cider Glaze. Melt butter, sugar and water over medium high heat. Bring mixture to a boil and let boil for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately add the cider, stirring to combine.
Place baking sheet under wire rack. Using a pastry brush or marinate brush, cover cake with glaze. I usually do this in several passes, letting one application of glaze sink in and then going back over the cake with another.
Prepare the Cinnamon Sugar Coating. Combine sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a small bowl. Sprinkle the warm, glazed cake with cinnamon sugar, using fingers to rub it onto the sides of the cake. (I usually place my cinnamon sugar mixture in an empty spice bottle, or salt shaker and then sprinkle it over the cake.)
*Since I originally posted this recipe, I have had quite a few questions about hard cider vs. fresh cider. So let me just start out by saying fresh cider is the juice from pressed apples. It is unfiltered and often appears cloudy. Unless you buy it directly from an orchard it has likely also been pasteurized. Hard Cider occurs when unpasteurized fresh cider is allowed to ferment. It becomes carbonated and alcoholic. This cider can be found wherever beer is sold. Now as far as substitutions: If you do not wish to use hard cider in the glaze, you can substitute in fresh cider. However, fresh cider is often sweeter than hard cider and the glaze will be a bit sweeter, but still delicious I’m sure. You can also just leave the cider out of the glaze, which would then just be a sweet buttery glaze, but lack apple flavor. Another possibility for a substitution that lacks alcohol, but still gives you an intense apple flavor is boiled cider. Boiled Cider is fresh cider which has been boiled down to produce an intensely flavored apple cider syrup. I have provided a link below if you wish to try that ingredient. I always use hard cider for my glaze, so I’m not sure how much boiled cider you should use as a substitution. I would start with 1/2 Tablespoon and taste it until it reaches your desired level of apple-y goodness.
Enjoy!
Apple Cider Donut Cake brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)


Spiced Applesauce Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting from Smitten Kitchen
Adapted, barely, from Gourmet.com
This cake is extremely moist, which means it’s a rare cake that tastes almost as good on day three as it did on day one, if you can get it to last that long. It’s the kind of cake that quickly slips into your repertoire; make it on a Monday, I guarantee you’ll find another event that wouldn’t be complete without it by Friday. And then again on Sunday.
If you’re using a stronger cinnamon, such as the aformentioned Vietnamese cinnamon, you can use 2/3 of the suggested amount for a similar impact, or full amount for an extra cinnamon pop.
Drowning in apples from an orchard excursion and haven’t made applesauce yet? Here’s my favorite, easy as can be, recipe for it, subtle and unsweetened. Want another fun fall riff on this? Try pear sauce, with or without the vanilla bean, instead or a mixture of the two.
Update 11/4/11: Just made these as cupcakes and it yielded 18. They bake for 15 minutes, same temperature. Mine didn’t dome terribly much, so you can safely fill them 7/8 of the way. I would suggest doubling the frosting (I 1.6x-ed it and came up a little short), especially if you frost cupcakes in the bakery style, as in, generously. Happy baking!
For cake
2 cups (8 3/4 ounces or 250 grams) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons (10 grams) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) baking soda
1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) salt
3/4 teaspoon (2 grams) cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon (1 gram) ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 stick (4 ounces or 113 grams) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (6 7/8 ounces or 195 grams) packed light brown sugar (updated weight)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups (about 13 ounces or 365 grams) unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup (about 1 3/4 ounces or 50 grams) walnuts (optional), toasted, cooled, and chopped
For frosting
5 ounces (142 grams) cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces or 42 grams) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup (4 ounces or 120 grams) confectioners sugar
1/2 (1 teaspoon) teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Butter an 8- or 9-inch square cake pan. I had no trouble getting my cake out of a nonstick pan by just buttering it, but if you don’t have a nonstick cake pan or are a little nervous, line the bottom with parchment paper and butter that too.
Make cake: Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Beat butter, brown sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer at high speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in applesauce. At low speed, mix in flour mixture until just combined, then stir in walnuts (if using). The batter will look a little curdly and uneven but don’t worry, it will all bake up perfectly in the end.
Spread batter evenly in pan and bake until golden-brown and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan 15 minutes. Run a knife around edge of cake to loosen, then invert onto a plate. Reinvert cake onto a rack to cool completely. You can speed this up, as I always do, in the fridge.
Make frosting: Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla with an electric mixer at high speed until fluffy. Sift confectioners sugar and cinnamon over cream cheese mixture, then beat at medium speed until incorporated. Spread frosting over top of cooled cake.
Do ahead: We were impressed with how well this cake kept for three days but were unable to “research” if it lasted longer. Keep frosted cake in the fridge. If you’d like to bake the cake further in advance, I’d wrap it well and freeze it until the day you need it. Leave it out on the counter to defrost and frost it up to a day in advance.

Apple Upside Down Cake by KAF
2 medium apples
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 tablespoons boiled cider or thawed apple juice concentrate
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup light corn syrup
CAKE
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 tablespoons boiled cider or thawed apple juice concentrate
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 large apple, peeled and finely chopped
3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, optional
INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9" round cake pan at least 2" deep. Line the bottom with parchment, and grease the parchment.
Slice the top, including the stem, off one of the apples and set it aside before peeling and slicing the rest of the apples into 1/4" thick wedges.
Place the apple top, stem side down, in the middle of the pan, and overlap the rest of the apple wedges in a ring around it.
Prepare the topping by heating the butter, sugar, boiled cider, cinnamon, and corn syrup together over low heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
Pour 1/2 cup of the syrup mixture into the prepared pan, and set the rest aside.
To make the cake: Beat the oil, brown sugar, boiled cider, eggs, spices, and salt together for 2 minutes at medium speed
Mix the flour with the baking soda, and stir it into the batter.
Add the chopped apple and nuts, and mix until just blended.
Drop scoops of the batter atop the apples in the pan, gently spreading to cover.
Bake the cake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted near the center comes out clean.
Remove the cake from the oven, and run a thin spatula around the edge to loosen.
Let the cake cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn it out onto a serving plate, bottom side up. Scrape out any sauce that remains in the pan, and spread it over the cake.
Reheat the reserved topping. If butter starts to separate as you reheat, add water by the teaspoon and stir until the butter rejoins the rest of the sauce.
Pour the sauce over the cake. Serve cake warm or at room temperature, with whipped cream if desired.


Norwegian Apple Cake from NYTimes
4 tart apples, like Granny Smith
1 cup/227 grams (2 sticks) salted butter, softened, plus more for greasing the pan
2 cups/255 grams all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 ¼ cups/250 grams granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
½ cup/4 ounces whole milk
 cup/32 grams sliced almonds
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
 Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for serving

Peel and core apples; slice 1/2-inch thick. Set aside. Use some of the butter to grease an 8-inch springform cake pan. Dust with a little flour. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Sift or whisk flour with baking powder. Set aside. In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat granulated sugar with 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) of the butter for several minutes, until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then beat mixture about 3 minutes until creamy. Gradually add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with milk, mixing well after each addition. Transfer batter to pan.
Arrange the apple slices on top of batter in tight overlapping concentric circles, gently pressing them in a bit. Scatter almonds on top. Dust with brown sugar and cinnamon. Dot with remaining butter. Place in the oven and bake about 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean, the top has browned and feels fairly firm to the touch.
Allow to cool in the pan until just warm. Remove sides of pan and serve with whipped cream or ice cream. If cake has cooled completely it can be warmed before serving.

Apple Skillet Cake
4 tablespoons/55 grams unsalted butter
2 large baking apples (about 12 ounces/340 grams), such as Honeycrisp, Gala, Granny Smith or Braeburn, peeled, cored and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
½ cup/110 grams dark brown sugar
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

FOR THE CAKE:
½ cup/115 grams unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature, plus more for the pan
1 ⅓ cup/290 grams dark brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ⅔ cup/215 grams all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
FOR THE CARAMEL FROSTING:
¾ cup/170 grams unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), at room temperature
3 cups/370 grams confectioners' sugar, sifted
7 ounces/205 grams unwrapped soft caramel candies
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
 Flaky sea salt, as needed, for finishing

Make the apples: In a 10-inch sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the apples, brown sugar and salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and the apples soften slightly, 4 to 5 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10-inch oven-proof skillet with butter.
Make the cake: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, and mix to combine. Scrape the bowl well, then beat in the vanilla.
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg to combine. Add the flour mixture to the mixer and mix just until incorporated. Scrape the bowl well.
With a rubber spatula, gently fold the apple mixture (including all of the caramel-like liquid in the pan) into the batter. Mix just until incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared skillet and spread into an even layer. Bake until the surface is evenly golden brown and appears set – a toothpick inserted into the center should have a few moist crumbs clinging to it, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool completely.
Make the frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and confectioners' sugar until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes.
Place the caramels in a microwave-safe container. Microwave in 20-second bursts, stirring, until the caramel is warm and fluid. (This mixture will cool quickly, so be sure to do it just before you mix the frosting.) Add the warm (not hot) caramel mixture and mix on medium speed until incorporated. Scrape the bowl well.
Add the cream and vanilla and mix to combine. The frosting should be smooth and very soft. Scoop the frosting onto the cooled cake, and spread into an even layer. Garnish with flaky salt just before serving.