Sunday, October 3, 2010

My Birthday: An Ode to October

Pumpkin and apple picking with nephews and Calliope

I know that I am not alone in thinking that October is the best month of the year, particularly in the Northeast. Some people love October because of apple and pumpkin picking, hay rides and changing leaves. Others because of Halloween, jack-o-lanterns and trick-or-treating. And still others because October is football weather, or because the holidays draw near. And I do love October for all of those reasons.

Orpheus on the hay ride

But I've always felt that my love for the month runs deeper. It isn't that October is "my month", it is more that October is where I belong, where I am at home, where I am meant to be. As she nears - and my birthday, too - I start to feel invigorated and alive. I start to think about the year to come. Among the falling leaves and the cooling temperatures, I feel my place in life and I feel excited for what is next. October is all change to me. And some time between my birthday on the 3rd and Halloween, I look at the person I am and set my sights on the person I want to become. October is full of possibility for me.
I feel very affectionate in October. She is a snuggly month, and I am full of love and appreciation for the people in my life. At 35, my friends are getting married and starting families, my family is growing and my nephews and nieces are becoming beautiful and funny little people. I see new smile lines and crows feet forming, and I'm aware that these are joyful days. I'm lucky to have reasons to smile so much. I'm not sure yet what the first few grey hairs say, but I have time to figure that out while the leaves also change colors. It all adds character to the landscape at my feet and the face in the mirror.     

Oh, and it also doesn't hurt that in October I can finally get back into the kitchen and bake! So, here is what I baked on Friday/Saturday to get my birthday month off to a good start. By the way, I do plan on celebrating all month long.

 Legacy Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting

Legacy Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting**
2 1/2 Cups (10oz) white whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground allspice, or 2 tsp apple pie spice
1 cup (2sticks, 8 oz) unsalted butter
1 cup (7.5oz) packed light or dark brown sugar
1 cup (7oz) granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1/4 cup (2oz) boiled cider or apple juice concentrate
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups peeled, chopped apples (about 3 large apples, 1 lb)
1 cup (4oz) walnuts, chopped

Regular cake procedure: Mix and set aside dry ingredients. Cream butter and sugars. Add eggs one-by-one. Add the rest of the wet ingredients. Then the dry. Stir in apples and nuts. Turn into greased layer cake tins or 13x9 pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes until set. 

Brown Sugar Frosting:
5 T (2.5 oz) unsalted butter
1/2 cup (3.75 oz) firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3 T (1.5 oz) milk
1.5 Cups (6 oz) confectioners' sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Melt butter and sugar over medium heat untill sugar is disolved. Add milk and bring to a boil. Cool 10 min, then beat in sugar and vanilla. Spread while warm. 

This cake came out moist and delicious, and was even better the second day, I think. Saturday is my actual birthday party, so expect to see more cake!

** From the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking book. 


Mar-Mar said...

I hope you had a great birthday! I liked your ode to is such a great month! I am now salvating over that apple cake!! I just might have to try that!


Clio said...

Mar - I should have properly credited the recipe - it is from the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking book. It is fantastic!

Faye Lewis said...

Have a wonderful birthday month - all month long!

Anonymous said...

Yay, happy birthday!!