I'm always trying to cook and bake things from my extensive cookbook home library (okay, two very full bookshelves, but might as well be a library) and have so many books that I haven't even tried one recipe from. One of my favorite ways to pick something to make, on a whim -- this is just for fun cooking here -- no meal or dinner party stress, is to randomly snatch a book off a shelf and randomly flip through the book to a page and make whatever is on that page. Is that crazy? I am a horrible decision maker and random is just so easy and to the point. I've done that since I was a kid looking at my mom's cookbooks, kind of like when you spin a globe and stop it with your pointer finger to pick a surprise vacation spot, remember doing that as a child? I do. Not like we ever went on any of those vacations, but they were sure fun to day dream about.
Anyway, I decided that I would do a little "series" and post about my random recipes. I do have some order to this, start on the top shelf, rotate shelves, etc. because I do love order, it's just the decision making that I find comfort in when it is random. For me a random recipe is a treasure waiting to be discovered, it's not the one you pick because you love the ingredients, or you saw a gorgeous photo of, or that was recommended by a blogging friend, the recipe is just there, waiting patiently for you to give it a try. My kids love to try the surprise recipes!
My first random book is from the top shelf, I didn't peek and just grabbed a book. It turned out to be Babe's Country Cookbook. Do you remember the movie Babe from the mid 90s? A sweet little movie I haven't seen since it was out in theaters. Will have to Tivo this and share it with my children :) I must have gotten this as a gift soon after the movie was out although I really don't remember where I got this sweet little book. I've looked through it many times over the years but never made anything from it. It has some delicious sounding recipes too, just didn't get around the making any. Just the perfect book to start Random Recipes off on...
The recipe I randomly flipped to is called Esme's Apple Cake with Dark Rum Sauce. Now I don't remember who Esme was in the movie, I'm thinking that she was probably the farmer's wife...anyway, this recipe was simple and I had all the ingredients already, score! -- don't you love when that happens?
Apple Cake with Dark Rum Sauce
adapted from Babe's Country Cookbook by Dewey Gram
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons water
2 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, seeded, and coarsely grated (about 2 and 1/2 cups) I did not have Golden Delicious and ended up using 4 smaller apples
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 and 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup dark rum -- I used Myer's Rum Original Dark -- Jamaican import, mon :)
In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. In an ample bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter until creamy. Beat in the brown and white sugars until well blended and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and the water. On low speed, beat in the flour mixture until well blended.
Preheat your oven to 350. Butter a 9 by 9 by 2 inch square baking pan. I lined it with foil and sprayed the foil with baking spray.
Fold in the grated apples and chopped walnuts.
Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan.
Baked in the 350 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes -- I needed the full 35 -- or until the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.
Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool. Cut into nine squares.
Making the rum sauce: in a small saucepan, melt the butter, and whisk in the brown sugar and cream. I would say add it all in at once and then heat it up to prevent the chance of the cream to curdle, or at least warm up your cream first in the microwave. Cook over low heat, whisking ever now and then, until the sugar is dissolved, about 6 minutes. Set aside to cool. Then stir the dark rum into the cooled butter-sugar sauce. Serve with whipped cream. Makes 9 servings.
I had a nice time putting this cake together and finally trying a recipe from Babe's Country Cookbook. The cake was moist and delicious, a nice homey dessert. The apples seemed to melt right into the cake and the caramel-like rum sauce really took it over the top. My mom who was visiting enjoyed this cake very much and had two pieces. Two out of three kids liked this one too, although I served it to the kids as more of an "apple bar / snack cake" without the rum sauce since the rum doesn't cook off or anything, I didn't think it would be kid appropriate. I think you could just as easily leave the rum out of the sauce if you so desired. Thanks for reading along on my little random recipe adventure. I'm going to try to do this weekly but no promises, okay? :)