I decided to play in the kitchen tonight and make dinner AND dessert, certain I could manage because dinner required marinating for 1/2 an hour and would be made on the stovetop, while dessert would use the oven. Oh-ho-ho, how optimistic I was!
Since finishing work two weeks ago I've been a busy girl - trying to decide what path to take next, planning vacations, writing, reading, budgeting and sending handmade cards to my friends who are getting married and having babies. Things are in flux at the moment and I wanted to spend time in the kitchen, as it always seems to give me a sense of accomplishment and the feeling that some things will turn out, no matter how crazy the rest of my life is.
Several months ago I made Chicken Thighs in Riesling, and tonight it was just as delicious as I remembered, served with a side salad. While it marinated away in the fridge I got to work on a cake I've had my eye on for ages : the Smitten Kitchen Gingerbread Apple Upside Down Cake, henceforth known as Skapple cake (the SK for Smitten Kitchen, although as I look at the original post again it seems she's adapted it from someone called Karen Bates at the Philo Apple farm, and the New York Times). So! Skapple Cake.
It's not a difficult cake, exactly - but there are several steps, which felt a bit beyond me tonight. Do not attempt this cake unless you have several bowls. And enough counter space. And perhaps a helpful roommate. And at least two hours, because it bakes for nearly an hour and takes time to put together unless you're really with it. I most definitely was not tonight. I managed with my loose-bottomed cake tin/cheesecake tin, but a cake tin with a sealed bottom is better. Fortunately I'd anticipated the problem of heated topping dripping from the tin, and had put an old cookie sheet underneath the pan.
On the plus side! The cake was moist and spongey, the house smelled fantastic while it baked, and although it looked very "homemade" it was also pretty impressive. I used Braeburn apples, which kept their shape but still softened. If you feel like something warming that will keep you happily in the kitchen for a while, this is a good cake to try. It turned out beautifully, so at least my hard work was worth it. Smitten Kitchen suggests cider or dark ale to accompany it, and a bit of softly whipped cream.