Most mothers, in America at least, make apple pie, but mine made something I liked even better. I think it’s my all-time favorite recipe, and the first one I learned to make myself as a teenager. At this time of year, with local apples appearing in our farm markets, it’s the perfect time for it. A tart baking apple is best, and Granny Smith will always work, but fresh-picked local apples are even better. I used Cortland here. I would have used Winesap, my favorite eating and baking apple, but they aren’t available yet.
MOM’S APPLE CAKE
2 large tart apples
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup flour
1/4 cup raisins OR chopped walnuts
Take the butter out of the refrigerator to soften about 20 minutes before starting. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease cake pan (9 inch round or 8×8 inch square) with butter. Peel apples, cut into quarters, remove seeds and core. Cut each quarter into 4 or 5 wedges, then cut wedges into smaller pieces, about 4 per wedge. You should not have any pieces thicker than about a quarter inch.
In a large bowl, blend sugar and butter with a fork or pastry blender. Add salt, baking soda and unbeaten egg and mix with large spoon. Add flour and cinnamon and mix. You should have a stiff dough that sticks together and is hard to stir. If it seems too loose, add a little more flour. Add apples and raisins or nuts and mix. Place in pan and spread out a bit, no need to be too fussy, it will even out in baking. Place in oven.
Bake for about 55 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean.
Cool for about a half hour before removing the first piece, then enjoy! Can be refrigerated, and is equally good the next few days, if it lasts that long.