Is it even Fall if you haven’t made an apple cake? There are so many recipes out there for apple cake that it was hard to choose, but any recipe that includes almonds and apples has my vote. I found this winner of a dessert on a website called The Sugar Hit and made it last year but never posted it. Hey, it’s time to make it again! Whenever I’m peeling apples, I have a contest with myself to try to keep the peel intact in one piece. Yea! I did it! (I know, nerdy)
I used a buttered springform pan, placing a piece of parchment paper on the bottom. I then layered some of the batter over the paper, and placed apples over the batter in a neat pattern.
Repeat with the batter (don’t worry if you don’t get complete coverage), then more apples.
When you’re finished with that layer, scatter the almonds and sugar topping all over, then bake. (I overbaked it by five minutes and the bottom layer was too browned.)
Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar when cooled.
Enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee (and some vanilla sauce or ice cream wouldn’t hurt either).
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If you were baking in the 1970s, no doubt you came across the rum cake recipe from Bacardi’, the well-known rum company from Puerto Rico. I made plenty of them back in the day, and they were always a big hit and easy to make, using a box mix. On a trip to the Cayman Islands a couple of weeks ago, where Tortuga rum cakes are as ubiquitous as fish tacos, I naturally had to try their version. For a packaged cake, it was remarkably good, but I knew there had to be a made-from-scratch recipe to duplicate the cake, reminiscent of those Bacardi’ cakes I enjoyed decades ago.
A short search online turned up a recipe from the King Arthur Flour website, a company whose products and whose recipes are always reliably good. While the King Arthur cake doesn’t include walnuts, the classic Tortuga cake is dotted with them inside the cake. I prefer the walnuts crowning the cake, as the old Bacardi recipe calls for, so that’s how I made it, and I’m glad I did.
The cake, which also contains a full cup of rum, has a moist, tender crumb and a delicious buttery flavor, almost like eating a rummy butterscotch lifesaver – only better. I’ve never tasted hot buttered rum, but I imagine this must be the cake version of that drink. It’s definitely not for tea-totalers.
The rum cake isn’t the only reason to recommend a visit to the Cayman Islands. Just to give you an idea of what the beautiful island of Grand Cayman is like, (there are three islands in the Cayman Islands, and Grand Cayman is the largest) here are a few pictures from our recent vacation there. The main attraction is the beautiful Caribbean sea, in various shades of blue. This is the famous “seven mile beach” with soft, pale sands and shade in many places. You’ll find world class hotels along the beach, as well as condos for rent. It’s easy to rent a sailboat, paddle board or other water vehicles right from the beach.
Need a respite from the sand and sea? You could easily spend a couple of hours visiting the Queen Elizabeth Botanical Garden, with its beautiful flowering plants and historic exhibits.
The grounds of the botanical gardens also contain a preserve for the blue iguana lizard, found only on the Cayman Islands. They nearly became extinct, with only 12 of the animals recorded in 2004, but through conservation efforts, about 700 have been bred and released in the sanctuary since then.
If you drive to the northern part of the island, you’ll come to a place called “starfish point,” where the beautiful sea creatures are omnipresent.
Speaking of sea creatures, Grand Cayman is a great place for snorkeling, as you can see in the photo below. They were swirling all around me and I felt like I was in the midst of an aquarium!
You can even swim with sting rays if you’re so inclined. They come right up to you in the clear turquoise waters off a certain part of the island.
The food there is really delicious too, which is why the island is sometimes referred to as “The Culinary Capital of the Caribbean.” The cuisine runs the gamut – from a food truck’s barbecued chicken and ribs to break-the-bank refined elegance at Eric Ripert’s “Blue” restaurant in the Ritz Carlton Hotel.
There’s so much more to see and do in the Cayman Islands, including fishing, shopping, and visiting museums. We hope to go back next year and I hope you get a chance to visit sometime too. Until then, I’ll be dreaming of those beautiful beaches and content myself with another piece of Caribbean rum cake.
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