Abandoned Orchards and Apple Cake

First, I want to say thank you to all the people who wrote me such nice comments and messages last week when my Grandmother passed away.  It really meant a lot, and I appreciate it very much. I definitely cooked us boxed macaroni and cheese for a few nights (in a row, yes) when I was still really sad and not into cooking at all, but I want to share this cake recipe with you, one of the first things I made when I motivated to get back into the kitchen.  It’s simple and light-tasting, in the same vein as the pumpkin pie recipe I just wrote about. I mentioned then, I am very much not down with baking things that make me feel like I need to go to the gym after I eat them.  This is not that kind of cake.  This is the kind of cake that, now that the days are starting to get really short, is really relaxing and quiet to bake early in the morning, before the sun is up, and then eat warm with a cup of tea while the sun rises.  It is a lovely way to start off the day.    A few weeks ago, I got permission to pick the apples from an abandoned apple orchard way at the top of the mountain that I live on.  It was planted long ago, before people were living at all of the different properties along my road, and no one has bothered picking the apples for ages.  I picked bushels and bushels of apples —  it was fantastic.  I know everyone’s all about canning applesauce right now, but I decided just to stash them in the pantry and see how many we could use fresh.  Apples keep for awhile if you have a cool, dark space, and if fruit is excited about preserving itself all on its own, I’m all about doing less work.

This cake recipe is from my mom, which she told me was from Cornell Orchards, one of the best spots for buying apples where I grew up.  I believe it was just a recipe they were handing out for free, for people to make with their apples, so it’s alright to share here even though I didn’t really come up with it.  If anyone knows differently, feel free to let me know…

For real: before you turn all your apples into apple butter, you should definitely make this.  Apple Cake, ever so slightly adapted from the recipe from Cornell Orchards’ recipe

Cook Time:  around an hour


  • 2 tbs. butter
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 2 medium eggs, slightly beaten (or, if you’re using jumbo eggs from the store, 1 egg)
  • 3 c. peeled, cored and diced apples
  • 1/2 c. chopped walnuts
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 heaping tsp. of salt
  • 1 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar.  Add the beaten eggs, and mix well.  Stir in the apples and walnuts.  Sift together the nutmeg, flour, salt and baking soda, and stir into the apple mixture.  (It will be thick and chunky, it’s okay).  Pour into a greased 8″ cast-iron skillet or a square baking dish.  Bake for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out fairly clean. (There’s so many apple chunks it’s hard to get it perfectly clean).

Top with whipped cream if you want, but it’s wonderful on its own, both warm out of the oven and cold later on.

4 thoughts on “Abandoned Orchards and Apple Cake

  1. Aren’t abandoned apple orchards the best? I have one about an hour away from me that my Hunny discovered. Last fall we had a wonderful harvest despite the October snowfall that crushed my favorite tree. This year no apples whatsoever. We are thinking they may be biannual variety and hoping for fruit for next year. We took scions that we grafted this past spring in hopes of perpetuating the species. Best apples I’ve ever eaten or cooked with! Enjoy your harvest!!

  2. I collect Cook books and recipes…But not just any recipes… Mom’s recipes… They are love! thanks for sharing… Memories of Grandmothers are something special! hold them close…

  3. I’m all about cake for breakfast, or pie or cobbler, anything with fruit in it is fair game. I am glad to hear that you are feeling a bit better. Losing your grandma is hard. I make pierogi when I’m missing my grandma. She called them pedaheh and always served them with oil that she had burnt onions in. As I got older I realized she wasn’t a very good cook! I think she was trying for caramelized onions. Oh well. It still tastes like grandma to me. Take care and thank you for blogging.

  4. Hi, I really need to get going with apple projects but i can’t seem to get motivated. I think I am in denial about fall and winter happening. But this recipe got me excited!. Also I am nominating you for the Beautiful blogger award. I love your love and pics and just your general beautiful way of living! Check out my latest blog post for more info!

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