Thursday, September 22, 2011

As Seen On TV

My husband is a marketer's dream. Whenever he sees an ad in the paper or television for a fancy new gadget with a fancy new application that will make your difficult, tedious life so much more bearable, he will at first scoff at the product but then secretly pine for it. And eventually buy it. And eventually return it because whatever relief the particular gadget may bring, it can do nothing against the misery my anger over money wasted will cause him.

We were once shopping in an outlet mall outside of Columbus, Indiana where we came upon a store harboring all sorts of gadgets and gizmos that are sold on TV during a 30 minute infomercial segment. I believe the store was fittingly called "The As Seen On TV Store." Some of the items included Pillow Pals, the Ab Circle Pro, the Thighmaster, the Egg Poacher, and, my personal favorite of all the ghastly kitchen appliances, the NuWave Oven. While I wandered through the store, I could not believe that people actually pay good money for this crap. Everything was so cheap and flimsy. I had just about had enough of the store when Paul comes up to me, declaring: "This store is so great! Look what I found." He holds up a package containing what looks to be a very basic blanket with bold lettering across the plastic front: The Better Marriage Blanket. Apparently, it is a blanket that has a protective odor barrier that should eliminate some of the more embarrassing scents and odors that may precipitate after devouring a pizza, drinking some beer, and snuggling on the couch during a movie. Apparently, the elimination of such scents will no doubt elevate the previously stinky spouse (I'm going to assume this was targeted at the male counterpart) in the eyes of their lover which will no doubt result in a instant surge in their communication, affection, and admiration for one another. It is no wonder that 50% of all marriages end in divorce - most married couples have probably not ever heard of this miracle product. Perhaps they should be distributed to engaged couples along with the learning materials during Marriage Prep....

Obviously, Paul was kidding when he brought the blanket to my attention, but he was quite serious about purchasing The Grill Daddy which promises to clean your outdoor grill with "the power of steam!" I said no and then quickly ran out of the store. The smell of dust, plastic, and rip-offs was starting to get to me. And the salesman was starting to hover.

Just as Paul may easily be lassoed into buying some of those TV gadgets and gizmos, watching food programs and shows make me instantly run to the grocery store for the ingredients necessary to make the featured recipe. Shortly after we were married, I was watching a program (and I cannot remember which one) where a baker made an apple bundt cake and poured a warm caramel glaze over the top. At the time, I was unable to make that exact recipe because I did not have a bundt pan, but I did do some research and make a butterscotch apple cake in a 9x13 pan which is one of Paul's favorite desserts to this day. However, this fall, with all the different varieties of apples pouring into the farmers markets fresh from the Pennsylvania countryside, I wanted to bake an apple cake similar to the one I saw on TV a few years back.

And this time, I do have a bundt pan.

The recipe I chose comes from Dorie Greenspan's book "Baking: From My Home to Yours." It is my favorite baking cookbook of all time (so far) and was a gift from Paul after he saw me perusing it at the library. It has such beautiful photographs and the recipes are written in such a personal manner that you feel as if you are in Dorie's kitchen baking right along with her. This particular recipe calls for both raw, grated apples and apple butter to ensure that the end product is a moist, beautiful cake full of sweet apple flavor. I chose to use Sweetango apples, a crisp, sweet apple that is a cross between a Zestar and a Honeycrisp. Did I mention how I love the many varieties of apples available this time of year?

So does Matthew...

He stole this apple from the pantry and refused to give it up until I had cornered him behind the rocking chair and tickled him, forcing him to release the stolen good from his surprisingly strong grip. He will thank me later when he is munching on a slice of this cake.

Double-Apple Bundt Cake
adapted from Baking From My Home to Yours

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large apples, peeled and grated
10 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 cup apple butter
1 cup walnuts or pecans
1 cup raisins (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a bundt pan.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices, and salt in a medium bowl.

Beat the butter and sugar in a stand mixer on medium speed for 3 minutes, scraping down as necessary, until the mixture is smooth, pale, and thick. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Switch the speed to low and add in the apple butter. The mixture may curdle a bit - no worries! Mix well. Add in the grated apples. Mix well. Add the flour mixture and mix until the white bits just disappear. Fold in the nuts and optional raisins.

Bake for 50-55 minutes. Let cool before serving and decorate with a lemon glaze or a dusting of powdered sugar.


  1. Dearest Monica,


    I do have a question for you, from your apprentice:
    What ingredients/foods are essential to a baker's kitchen that I should always keep in stock?


  2. Hey Alicia!
    Thanks for visiting! :)
    Some of the more essential items in my kitchen are all-purpose flour, bread flour, butter, vegetable oil (its the only neutral oil that does not partake an "off" flavor after baking), canned pumpkin (just because I love it), vital wheat gluten (add it to your breads for a really smooth, light texture), instant yeast, regular yeast, white sugar, brown sugar (dark and light), buttermilk, pure vanilla extract (not imitation) and your basic chemical leaveners (baking powder/soda). And DO change your baking soda every 30-90 days. It really does make a difference!