Weirdly, breakfast is the one meal where you eat dessert as a main course. Think about it: Froot Loops and Lucky Charms, pancakes and waffles with syrup, crepes and blintzes, coffee cake and danishes, Pop Tarts and doughnuts. It’s insane! (I had some chocolate this morning to ‘test’ things.) And Dutch Apple Cake. I’m not sure what makes it a breakfast food. Often, my Grandma Gottschall’s Dutch Apple Cake is served warm in a bowl with milk poured over it, so maybe that does it. Mom and grandma made Dutch Apple Cake for those fancier breakfasts (foodfight-free fests) when we‘d all chow down together in a meaningful way. This happened at least once yearly.
As far as I know my Great Grandma Gottschall wasn’t Dutch. Her husband was German (Gottschall). I should ask their daughter, my Grandma Hinkle (though I should do it soon, you know, while I still can). But my friend Jenny makes great baklava and she’s probably Icelandic or Flemish. Something weird. Anyway, not Middle Eastern. Also, Ronald Reagan’s nickname was ‘Dutch‘, though he was Irish-Scots-English, so maybe the apple cake was named for Reagan. Who‘s to say?
Last year I made a pilgrimage to see my sick mom in California (before she moved to Minnesota), and while she generally lacks energy for most activities, she’s often in the mood for cooking (it might have something to do with her being able to supervise me). And so we made Dutch Apple Cake. Here’s the recipe:
Great Grandma Gottschall’s Dutch Apple Cake
6 C Golden Delicious Apples, peeled, cored, cubed
1/2 C sugar
1/3 C vegetable oil
2/3 C milk
2 C flour
1 T baking powder
pinch of salt
Your trip to diabetic city starts when you preheat the oven to 350F. Because I’m perhaps slower than my 85 year-old grandma in the kitchen (ok, yes, totally slower), I might wait until I’m halfway through the mixing business before I turn on that oven, unless it’s midwinter and there’s snow and ice on the ground, icicles dangling from my nostrils, and I can see my breath in the house, in which case I’ll start that oven immediately.
Straightaway, get those pretty little apples peeled, cored, and cubed. Not pyramided, but cubed. I don’t know how important it is to use Golden Delicious Apples, but some crazy baking fiend made the declaration at some point, so we must obey. If I was feeling jaunty and creative I might try different types of apples just to see how things might be screwed up. Then I could stick it to the old master baker. But the Gottschalls had orchards of apples in Washington at one point, so they might have already experimented and found the winning fruit.
You know how the space shuttle launches go through different stages of launch and separation? Well, this is nothing like it. Except that you mix the ingredients together in 2 stages, lest your creation combust into a fiery ball of indigestion. In stage one, mix together the eggs, sugar, oil, and milk in a bowl (or a tall magician‘s hat as part of your fireball act). Then, in stage 2, blend in your flour, baking powder, and salt.
Now that you’ve gotten your baking mix together, you’re ready to combine it with the apples. (Apparently the apples need to be prepared first and set aside so you don‘t leave the batter sitting for too long. It seems the baking soda loses efficacy or something goofy after awhile.) Anyway, pour your mixture over the apples and stir to coat the apples. Now pour everything into a greased 9X13 pan. Sprinkle a cinnamon and sugar mix on top and put your pan in the oven. Bake for 45 minutes at 350F. Remove your awesome little cake from the oven, let it cool a little and serve warm (with milk, if desired. I may be heretical and try it with whipped cream. And at dinner.) .
So, while I’m unsure whether Great Grandma Gottschall had any Dutch heritage, or if Dutch Apple Cake is in fact Dutch and not named for Ronald Reagan, I do know that the cake is delicious and reminds me of my grandmas and my mom and the fact that this recipe spans the generations and ties me more tightly to my ancestors who liked sugary baked goods for breakfast, and probably passed down a gene that might speed me quickly down the road to diabetes. God bless us everyone!
The secret word is pyramided.
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