apple picking, apple muffins and apple cake pudding

we went apple picking this weekend at soons orchard in new hampton, ny.  it’s about an 1.5 hour drive from downtown manhattan.  they’ve got several varieties of apples on hand whose picking availability varies from week to week.  the first few times hubs and i went, i did the whole orchard exploration thing.  walking up and down every single apple tree row, sampling the apple varieties straight from the tree from time to time.  we were fairly efficient on this occasion.  i made a beeline for the fuji apples at the back of the orchard, then picked a few golden delicious because they are great for baking, and finally topped off  my 1/2 bushel with a few red delicious (they look rather different when not schlacked in wax).  soons also has got a country store at a different site, not too far away, that sells the most amazing apple pie.  we skipped it this time around, as it was hot out and we didn’t want the pie to be sitting in the car as we ran other errands around town.

when we finally got home, i unpacked the apples and stacked them up on a half sheet tray — as it was the only container i could find in my house, large enough to hold them.  they’re still hanging out there right now.  i pick one up to crunch on every now and then, but i’m thinking that if i let them mellow out there for a while longer, i might just start getting that delicious apple fragrance that used to greet me in the vestibule of the old Bouley restaurant .  . .

the next day, i decided to whip up an apple bundt cake. i think i got a bit too carried away dropping apples into the batter, that it ended up looking a bit full.  i scooped some of the batter out, and placed it into a muffin cup.  i guess i had some foresight because that was the only part of the apple cake batter that survived intact.  my bundt cake fell apart, in a rather unrecoverable manner, as i unmolded.   hubby thinks that my baking skills are a bit rusty, having traipsed around asia for a few weeks.   my own forensic investigations lead me to believe that it fell apart because i was in too much of a rush while making it.  against my own better advice, i  tried to unmold the cake before i had let it sit in the bundt pan for 15 minutes first; and i tried to butter the bundt pan before it was completely dry (resulting in a watery buttered bundt cake).  for good measure, i probably should have floured the bundt pan as well — but i skipped that to save time.  UGH!!!

well at least the lone leftover batter muffin remained, and i ate it the next morning for breakfast.  not bad.  moist with soft apple chunks.  would definitely make it again.

now, with a ton of crumbly apple bundt cake remains on my hands, i tried to figure out a way to transform it, as i was loath to toss it.  i decided to experiment with making an apple cake pudding, so to speak, i.e. a bread pudding but made out of cake remains.

an hour of baking later, i had myself a rather generous tray of apple cake pudding.  it smelled fantastic.  i reserved two small ramekins of the stuff for hubs and i to taste. quite delicious when hot out of the oven.  hubs took the rest to work the next day, and it ended up being consumed heartily even cold. i suppose that’s a good sign and a happy ending for my apple tale.

Apple Muffins / Bundt Cake
(probably makes about 20 muffins or one 9 inch bundt cake)

Milk 2 cups
Eggs 2 large ones
Butter 2 sticks, melted
Vanilla extract 1 tsp
Flour 2 ½ cups
Sugar 1 cup
Baking powder 2 tbsp
Baking soda 1 tsp
Salt A pinch
Nutmeg 1 tsp
Oats 2 cups
Apples 4 medium sized apples, peeled, cored and cubed
Pecans ½ cup, crushed
Chocolate Chips 1 cup
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350ºF.  Flour and butter bundt pan if using, prepare muffin cups.
  2. Pour flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg in bowl of stand mixer with paddle attachment.  Mix together slowly (about 30 seconds).
  3. Pour in milk, eggs, melted butter and vanilla extract.  Whisk together until just combined.
  4. Add in Oats and continue to mix for 20 seconds.
  5. Turn off mixer.  Fold in apples, pecans and chocolate chips with a rubber spatula.
  6. Transfer into bundt pan or muffin cups.
  7. Bake muffins for 30 minutes and bundt cake for approximately 1 hour, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  8. Wait 15 minutes for bundt cake to cool in pan before unmolding to cool on rack.

Now if you’re clumsy enough like me to have the cake fall apart on you, here’s what you can do . . .

Apple Cake Pudding
(a 9×12 inch baking dish)

Eggs 2 large eggs
Egg yolks 3 yolks
Half and Half 3 cups
Sugar 1/3 cup
Vanilla extract 1 tsp
  1. Take cake remains (from above — you can probably make this with any cake remains, assuming you’ve got about 3/4 of the recipe left), spread out in baking dish and bake at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes.  You’re trying to crisp the edge of the cake and de-moisturize it a bit. [Most bread pudding recipes are based on using stale bread, as it absorbs the pudding better].
  2. Heat half and half in a small saucepan until it just comes to a boil.
  3. While heating, whisk together eggs, yolks and sugar in the bowl of your standmixer using the whisk attachment on lowest speed.
  4. Turn up the speed to the highest setting and pour in 1/4 up the hot milk. [We’re tempering eggs here].  Whisk for about 20 seconds. Then pour in the rest of the half and half.
  5. Pour the egg/milk mixture back into the saucepan and allow it to reduce for about 3 minutes, stirring constant.
  6. Turn off heat and pour in vanilla extract.
  7. Pour the custard you have just made into the baking dish container the toasted cake remains.  Place a few sliced apples on top (i used about 3 apples), or whatever else you fancy, dot with butter and sprinkle on some sugar.
  8. Bake the dish at 300ºF for about 1 hour.  You’re looking for the pudding to set.

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