Saturday, November 7, 2009

Don’t Cry Over Sour Milk Apple Cake

I’m totally phobic about soured milk. I must have repressed memories of my mother forcing it on me as a child (“It tastes fine!”) because I practically convulse if I even think the milk suggests that it might in the next few days start to turn perhaps just a bit so that it may need to be replaced three days hence. Given the psychic/political/emotional/spiritual trauma I go through trying not throw out anything that remotely qualifies as food (see Saved From the Scrapheap), I have looked for ways to use the sour milk, rather than toss.

This recipe combines one I found googling “sour milk recipes” (here’s a link to the original recipe) with one from An Apple Harvest, a book my friend Barb gave me a few years ago, which has some nice recipes in it. One other reason I like this recipe is that it calls for vegetable oil vs. butter—which means you can make it on the spur of the moment. I can't tell you how many baking impulses have been thwarted by the fact that my butter is frozen solid (which maybe is not such a bad thing). This cake—sans nuts—is a baby-pleaser (if Paloma, my granddaughter, is any gauge).

Don't Cry Over Sour Milk Apple Cake 
1 cup + 1/2 tsp sugar
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp all spice or pinch of nutmeg
1/2 cup canola or other vegetable oil
1 cup sour milk*
1/2-1 cup chopped walnuts or other kind of nut (depending on how nutty you like your cake; can be omitted altogether)
1 apple**, any variety, peeled, quartered, cored, and then thinly sliced  
*Note 1: If you don’t have a full cup of sour milk, put whatever amount you have in a measuring cup and then drop in spoonfuls of plain yogurt until the liquid reaches the one-cup measure 
  **Note 2: You can use pears, peaches, plums, blueberries. Honestly, just about any fruit would work.  
1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a 9x9 inch baking pan (or just spray it with a vegetable oil spray, which is what I do).  
2. Sift together: 1 c. sugar; all the flour, soda and salt; 3/4 tsp of cinnamon; and the all spice or nutmeg into a large bowl.  
3. Stir the sour milk into the flour mixture by hand, then mix in the vegetable oil until all the liquids are thoroughly integrated. The batter will be thicker if yogurt is part of the sour milk mixture. 
4. Fold in the nuts, if you are using.  
5. Scrape into the baking pan and smooth the top. Then layer on top the fruit slices in any pattern you wish. Mix the remaining 1/4 tsp. cinnamon and 1/2 tsp. sugar together and then sift over the top (I use a tea strainer for this).  
6. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes to an hour. It will be done when the middle of the cake has some spring to it when you tap it, or if a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  
7. Serve warm, if you can, with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

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