When journalist Josh Kilmer-Purcell and his partner Dr. Brent Ridge bought a farm in upstate New York, they came to understand the ins and outs of running a farm and selling its wares day to day. Eventually this project led to The Fabulous Beekman Boys television show, based on the drama of running the Beekman 1802 Farm in Sharon Springs (this also led to Kilmer-Purcell's book The Bucolic Plague, available at bookstores and libraries near you). Anyone who has seen their show knows that the townspeople often appear on the show. Some of the residents of Sharon Springs even had their recipes appear on the Beekman 1802 website during the holidays - a virtual Advent Calendar.
Official Name: State of New York
State Nicknames: The Empire State
Admission to the US: July 26, 1788 (#11)
Capital: Albany (6th largest)
Other Important Cities: New York City (largest in the state, largest in the nation!), Buffalo (2nd largest), Rochester (3rd largest), Syracuse (5th largest)
Region: Northeast, Mid-Atlantic; Mid-Atlantic (US Census)
RAFT Nations: Maple Syrup; Wild Rice; Clambake
Bordered by: Québec (Canada) (north), Lake Ontario (northwest), Ontario (Canada) & Lake Erie (west), Pennsylvania (south and southwest), New Jersey (south), Connecticut & Long Island Sound (southeast), Massachusetts & Vermont (east)
Official State Foods and Edible Things: apple (fruit), milk (beverage), sugar maple (tree - for the maple syrup), rose (flower - they are edible, you know), trout (fish), apple muffin (muffin), bay scallop (shell), beaver (mammal, though outside of "Bizarre Foods" you won't see many people eating these)
Some Famous and Typical Foods: In New York City, anything and everything - it is one of the most multicultural and diverse cities in the United States, and is a culinary capital of the nation; typical NYC foods include: Waldorf salad, bagels & bialys, corned beef and pastrami, chocolate egg creams, hot dogs, New York pizza, General Tso's chicken, Baked Alaska (invented in New York City), and so on; New York cheesecake; "garbage plate" (Rochester only); Buffalo wings (Buffalo of course); apples and maple syrup, and of course, more apples
Josh & Brent have a lovely homage to the Beekman Farm's hometown, the Sharon Springs Heirloom Recipe Advent Calendar. The residents of Sharon Springs, many of whose families have been in the town for generations, offer up family recipes and a slice of life in rural upstate New York that the rest of us don't think about when we're visiting New York City proper. Inevitably, one of those recipes features the official state fruit, the apple.
While every recipe caught my attention, the one with apples posted under the December 12th entry filled my need for apples and cake at the same time. Long time Sharon Springs shop owner Maureen Lodes, who owns and operates the Cobbler & Co. in town, shares with the Beekman Boys and with the world her family recipe for Apple Cake. The video on the Beekman 1802 Advent Calendar website - yes, every contributor has her or his own video - follows:
A charming lady with her charming apple cake! Prepare to be charmed.
The Recipe: Maureen Lodes' Apple Cake (care of Beekman 1802)
I tried to follow Lodes' recipe more or less the way she wrote it, though I had no 9 or 11 inch, or 9 by 11 inch. The one in the video looked like a round dish anyway. A 9" round dish is about 63 square inches. My 8 x 8 inch cake dish is 64. Close enough.
For her apple cake, you will need:
* apples (in an apple cake? Yes - enough that when sliced they will cover the bottom of the dish in one layer. I ended up needing about four)
* flour (had it)
* baking powder (had it too)
* sugar (same)
* salt (again, had it)
* milk (had it)
* butter (yup, got that too)
* eggs (got 'em)
* vanilla (hey, I have just enough!)
* You should also have on hand nutmeg and cinnamon to sprinkle on the raw apple slices.
Peel, core and slice your apples.
Enough to cover! Perhaps they should be thinner, but this worked out fine in the end.
Oh yes, sprinkle liberally with nutmeg, and/or cinnamon, and/or more sugar, and butter bits as needed.
In another bowl, add your flour - unsifted, please. This is so easy! Just scoop and dump!
Then add bits of cold butter.
And next add your sugar mixture.
Mix everything together, with a spoon and not a beater or mixer.
Add the eggs and vanilla.
And again, mix until it is thoroughly blended - like so. Lodes notes that the batter will be lumpy, due to the butter. It won't be a problem.
Spoon on top of the apples and spread out to within an inch of (or as far as it can go towards) the sides.
Bake for an hour at 350°F.
As you can see, the topping spreads out while baking.
It does seep in between the apples, probably more so if the apples were sliced thinner.
And there you have it - a family apple cake recipe right from Sharon Springs, using the famous New York State apple. It's a delicious cake, with a firm, buttery cake on top of soft, cinnamon-y apples. It's pretty easy to make, so this is one I will have to come back to.
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Beekman 1802 (Josh Kilmer-Purcell & Brent Ridge). "December 12" (Maureen Lodes' Apple Cake). Posted on the "Sharon Springs Heirloom Recipe Advent Calendar" page, Beekman 1802 website. Copyright 2011, 2012 Beekman1802.com. All rights reserved.
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Some information also obtained from Wikipedia's "New York" and "Demographics of New York City" pages and other pages, and the Food Timeline State Foods link to "New York".