11 Jul 2012, Posted by admin in MEET, 2 Comments
Of the “histories” out there, there are few that conjure up personal memories with as much immediacy as food history. What we serve on our tables is (literally) surrounded by hand-knitted potholder memories. They’re our memories, real memories. Not distant stories we’ve scanned in history books of characters past, but memories of people we love and have loved. It’s part of the reason why reading tributes to those who influenced someone else’s culinary life can be so moving, even to a stranger.
Tributes like the one food writer/cookbook author Kendra Bailey Morris recently wrote on her blog Fat Back & Foie Gras about her grandmother, Beulah Ann Bailey (“Granny Boohler”), who passed away this week at just shy of 100: “Granny whipped up multi-course meals featuring real-deal Appalachian-style Southern cooking well into her 90′s, with many of her recipes being passed on to us kids as oral renditions that often contained the phrase, ‘just eyeball it’.”
Sound advice in today’s hyper-specific recipe world, and no doubt Granny Boohler’s Appalachian stack-cake gatherings were all the tastier (and more fun) for their “dump in a little of this/add that” flair. Even better? When I contacted Kendra to ask if I could re-post part of her tribute, I had no idea she was the author of a book that I still remember receiving back in the LA Times days — a cookbook that I admittedly tossed aside on first glance as likely rather silly (the title probably had something to do with it).
The book actually turned out to be a charming tribute to “old country” cooking, with many recipes and stories inspired by Granny Boohler — whom would likely have some sort of “don’t judge a cookbook by its cover” quip to toss in the mix (Bailey has a new cookbook underway, incidentally). A reminder that even in today’s celebrity pastry chef-fueled world, a simple recipe is more than enough to change your applesauce cake perspective.
Granny Boohler’s Applesauce Cake
From: Kendra Bailey Morris of Fat Back & Foie Gras.
Per Kendra: “There’s wasn’t a Christmas in our house where granny’s applesauce cake wasn’t on the table. She’d make it with homemade applesauce from green apples from the backyard tree and store it in a tightly sealed container with extra sliced apples to keep it moist. This cake is best when served with coffee for breakfast.”
3 cups applesauce, preferably homemade
2 heaping teaspoons baking soda
1 cup shortening (or ½ cup butter and ½ cup shortening)
2 ½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups raisins
1 cup walnuts, chopped
3 ½ cups all purpose flour
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and grease and flour and standard-sized bundt pan.
Heat the applesauce until it’s piping hot. Add in the baking soda while the applesauce is heating and stir it well. Cream up your shortening in a large bowl and then add the sugar and spices to it. Add the applesauce to the shortening mixture and blend well. Mix in the raisins and walnut and then sift in the flour. Mix all together well and then pour the batter into your bundt pan.
Bake the cake for 1 ½ hours or until a knife stuck in the center comes out clean. Let cake cool at least 15 minutes before releasing it onto a rack. Store cake in a tightly sealed container with sliced apples to keep it moist. It will keep this way up to 3 weeks.