This one is for Grandma.
8 months ago, I lost one of the most important people in my life.
I try and celebrate her everyday because she deserves that much. But as we go through our lives, day by day, things begin to get in the way. Work starts to take over our minds, weekends get filled with the things you don’t have time for during the week. Thoughts get filled with stress, worry, ingredients, recipes, time, money, etc. Spending quality time with the people you love most in this world, traveling to places, reading books, going this way, going that way. And then all of a sudden she’s not in your thoughts 24/7 like she should be.
As time passes, there have been moments right before I go to bed thinking “Did I think of Grandma today? Did I honor her today?”
It seems simple enough. A thought here…a thought there. But when did a thought or a memory lose out to thoughts about a game, or a recipe, or work, or what I should have for dinner tonight?
She deserves to be thought of every single day. Because no matter what was going on in her life, she ALWAYS was thinking of her family. She called everyday to see how everyone was. When a family member wasn’t with her, she asked about them. She wanted to know how they were. Her family was always on her mind. No matter what.
ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS.
Also, NOTHING would make my Grandma happier than by not only have everyone together, but having everyone together…eating.
Food and Family. My Grandma in a nutshell.
And the woman could go to town at the dinner table. Sometimes it really was a sight to see. She was a champion.
I like to think that’s where I get my eating habits from.
I also think she’s where I get my love of cooking and baking.
Grandma was never much of a baker, but man, the things she would cook in the kitchen.
And just like any Italian mom/grandma she absolutely LOVED cooking for her family. Cooking was one of her ways of showing how much she loved us. And when she got older and more fragile and couldn’t cook for us anymore, I think that really broke her. And it broke my heart.
But still, whenever we would sit around that dining room table together as a family, I don’t think she could have been any happier.
Food and Family.
Two things that had so much meaning for my Grandma, now have so much meaning in my own life. And I have her to thank for that.
So while I may not think of her everyday minute of everyday, every time I am in my kitchen cooking and baking (and eating), I am honoring her. And I know it’s when I am in the kitchen that she is with me, by my side.
This past weekend was her birthday. So what better way to honor her by getting some family together and sharing a nice family Sunday dinner. She would have loved every second of it. And of course I wanted to honor her in my own way.
Grandma loved apple desserts. Apple turnovers, apple pie, etc. It may have been because it was easy to get those desserts sugar free (she had diabetes), but that’s neither here nor there. I just always remember her eating apple desserts all the time. So whenever I have a apple-y dessert, I think of her. So that’s what I wanted to make for her birthday.
But naturally I needed to add a little touch of Deanna. And naturally I did that by adding brown butter.
Whatevs. Grandma would be proud.
Apple Bundt Cake with Brown Butter Vanilla Bean Glaze.
And it’s as good as it sounds.
Between the shredded apples, apple cider and apple sauce, the cake is incredibly moist and incredibly apple-y with a wonderful texture.
The brown butter vanilla glaze is simply hands down my FAVORITE glaze I have ever made. And honestly, when is adding brown butter to ANYTHING not good? It just adds so much depth to anything you add it to. But the real kicker in the glaze? Vanilla beans. Yes, you still use extract, but adding the actual vanilla beans just brings it all together.
And did I mention that you put the glaze on the cake when the glaze and the cake are still warm? And that the glaze is thick enough that even though a ton of glaze seeped into the center of the cake there was still SO much thick awesome sauce glaze that it really wasn’t an issue? And did I mention that all I wanted to do was take the semi-hardened ball-o-glaze that went into the middle of the cake and sit in a darkened room where no one could see me while I ate it in my own personal glaze glory?
No? Well, that totally didn’t happen.
This cake is just the perfect fall dessert and the perfect dessert to honor Grandma.
She totally would have loved it, and totally would have tried to sneak an extra piece even though she totally shouldn’t.
I would not want to be the person in charge of testing her blood sugar readings if she had a slice of this.
Grandpa? Oh, he loved it. Look at him just attack his slice. Doing Grandma proud.
It turned out to be a beautiful but bittersweet day. One where we had a wonderful day enjoying each other’s company but also wishing Grandma could be here with us.
But I know she is always with us.
Especially when we’re together. Especially when we’re all sitting around the dining room table eating, laughing, telling stories and enjoying each other’s company over food.
APPLE BUNDT CAKE WITH BROWN BUTTER VANILLA BEAN GLAZE
Recipe by A Farmgirl’s Dabbles
Apple Cake Ingredients:
1 T. butter and some flour for preparing the pan
4 medium apples – peeled, cored, & shredded (use the big holes on your grater), to make about 3-1/2 cups shredded apples – I used 2 Granny Smith, 1 Gala, and 1 McIntosh
1 T. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1-1/3 c. white sugar, divided
3 c. all-purpose flour
1 T. baking powder
1 T. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. mace
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. salt
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. applesauce
4 large eggs
1/2 c. apple cider
2 tsp. vanilla
Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare a 12-cup bundt pan by smearing butter over every little nook and cranny of its interior. Then add some flour and tilt your pan so flour sticks to all of the buttery surface. Set pan aside.
Stir the shredded apple with lemon juice and 1/3 cup of the white sugar. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, mace, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the remaining 1 cup white sugar, brown sugar, oil, applesauce, eggs, apple cider, and vanilla. Mix to combine. Then add the flour mixture and combine once again. Add the apples and mix until the apples are evenly distributed. Pour into prepared Bundt pan and bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick comes out of the cake clean. Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto your serving platter.
Brown Butter Vanilla Bean Glaze Ingredients:
2 to 3 T. half and half
2 c. sifted powdered sugar
vanilla bean seeds scraped from 1/2 a vanilla bean (split bean lengthwise and scrape out seeds)
4 oz. butter
2 tsp. vanilla
First, pour 3 tablespoons of half and half into a small bowl and set aside. This is just to take the chill off, while you prepare the rest of the glaze.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the sifted (don’t skip the sifting!) powdered sugar and vanilla bean seeds. Set aside.
In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the butter until golden brown. It should smell delicious and toasty. If it smells burnt, you went too far! This should take about 6 to 8 minutes. Carefully pour browned butter into the powdered sugar and vanilla bean seeds, leaving the darkened butter sediment behind. Add 2 tablespoons of the half and half, then add the vanilla. Stir vigorously until smooth. You want the glaze to be somewhat thick, but easily pourable. If it seems too thick, add the remaining tablespoon of half and half. Pour the glaze over the cake while both the glaze and cake are still warm.
Let the glaze set…then DIG IN!!