Apple Spice Cake


Every New Years Eve, we have a party at my house. The party is not, however, held primarily in the spirit of welcoming in the new year. It is to celebrate my dad. For his birthday, we invite a few close friends over, have Valentino’s Take N’ Bake Pizza, and usually remember to celebrate the New York New Year at 9p.m. so that we can head to bed shortly afterward, with full tummies and daunting visions of New Years resolutions dancing in our heads. We savor that last bite of cake, remembering that the next day brings January and high expectations of healthy recovery from the holidays.


My dad loves spice cake. Other than December 31st, we never eat it, so usually the making of his dessert involves an egg, some vegetable oil, and a Betty Crocker box. But this year I wanted to branch out and make him a cake from scratch. I adapted the recipe from Naturally Ella’s Spiced Apple Bundt Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. The cake is very light and moist, and the frosting is good enough to eat alone. It would also be a great option for an indulgent lazy Sunday breakfast or an afternoon snack with a cup of tea.


  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups A.P. flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 large green apples, peeled and sliced thin

For the frosting:

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup of butter at room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg


1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Lightly grease a bundt pan with butter or oil.

2. In a saucepan, heat the buttermilk, spices and vanilla and bring to a simmer. Cut the butter into pieces and then add to the mixture after it is removed from the heat. Allow to cool, making sure that the butter has been completely incorporated.

3. Combine flour, salt, and soda in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the cooled buttermilk mixture, eggs, sour cream, maple syrup, and sugar. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir well until combined.

4. Peel and core the apples, and slice thinly.


Once the apples are sliced, add 1/3 of the batter to the bundt pan, and then add one layer of sliced apple on the top.


Next, add another third of the batter and the remainder of the apples. Add the last of the batter on top.


Bake for 35-40 minutes until an inserted knife comes out clean.


5. Remove the cake from oven and let cool in the pan. Then loosen the sides of the cake and flip over, removing the cake from the pan.

6. For frosting: Combine all ingredients in a mixer and mix on high for several minutes. Make sure that the cake is completely cool before frosting.


Add a nice thick layer – there will be plenty of frosting! We had a little bit leftover.



Raw Cacao Pecan Bars

ImageHome. Home is safe, peaceful, warm. My heart is always here, but physically we have been separated for the better part of nine months. Now as summer begins and I settle back in, slowly unpacking bag after bag, reality sets in. I am home, really home.


My mom and I made these “brownies” last night. Eaten alone, I would be more inclined to call them a power bar. But with a dollop of ice cream on top they can easily pass for dessert. This recipe is relatively simple to tweak – any kind of nut can be used, and add ins can simply be chopped up almonds, or to make more decadent, a handful of dark chocolate chunks as well.

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Studying Procrastination Leads to Good Food

Oh my goodness. I would just like to say a quick apology for our month of absence on Frances Retigan. Time has flown by with very little cooking or baking for me, as I now have an all you can eat cafeteria at my disposal three times a day.

Despite the hectic craziness of college life, I have collected many good food memories over the past month. While none of them include homemade recipes (save a care package or two that I have received), they are worth imparting to you none the less.

I will begin with a quick review of the breakfast my mom and I shared together before her flight back home. It was a bittersweet hour or so as we savored our last moments face to face with one another for several months.


We sauntered over to the highly recommended Egg Harbor Cafe in Wheaton, Il and seated promptly. I began with a good ole cup of coffee. If you are someone that likes flavored coffees, they offer specials each day. I got a veggie egg white omlette and pomegranate orange juice, and Mom ordered pumpkin pancakes. Needless to say, our plates were empty a short while later. I consumed about half of the pumpkin pancakes in addition to my order. Whether this was due in part to my stomach consenting to the convoluted emotions I was feeling about my mommy leaving me or not, I do not know. All I can say reflecting back on that moment was that the meal comforted both of us and was a good way to end the orientation weekend.

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