Another good thing about really old recipes is they give you a lot of ideas for making "something out of nothing". In other words, you can create something quite tasty with small quantities of basic ingredients. It was raining here yesterday (yay!), and I didn't want to get out to the grocery store. I had two large Granny Smith apples that needed attention, but that's not enough for a pie. So, I went to my collection of old cookbooks and found this apple cake recipe dated 1850. Maybe because baking ingredients were not as easy to come by more than a hundred years ago, but I've noticed that with these really old recipes, the amounts of butter and sugar are small. They yield a dish smaller than we're used to, but they say they serve usually 6-10. This is generally good for us now as well: less butter and sugar and smaller portions-- but still yummy! I love the way these recipes allow good, simple things to "speak for themselves". Two large apples were plenty for this 8x8 cake that will easily serve six "2009" portions, or nine "1850" portions. I think back then they would serve this with heavy cream poured over, but now it's great served warm with vanilla ice cream! My dad would have liked to pour condensed milk over this-- straight from the can-- yikes!
Ada's Apple Cake
1 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1.5 Tbl. butter
1 beaten egg
1/3 c. milk
2 large or 3 small apples
2 Tbl. sugar mixed with 1/2 tsp. cinnamon (to sprinkle over the top)
1 Tbl. butter
Preheat the oven to 400F. Spray an 8x8 baking dish with Pam (not authentic to 1850-- but easier!). Mix the first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl. Add the butter and work into the flour mix with a pastry blender or your fingertips until it resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the egg and milk and mix well with a fork. Spread in the baking dish.
Peel and core the apples. Cut into wedges about 1/4-inch thick. Place over the cake dough, pressing them in slightly. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over all and dot with the 1 Tbl. butter.
Bake for 30 min. or until the apples are tender and the top is golden and sugar-glazed.
Serve warm with vanilla ice cream. You can put slices in the microwave if you've made the dish ahead-- they are just as good!