By Lisa Wardle
To mark the first day of autumn, I picked apples at Paulus Orchards in Dillsburg. My partner and I picked half a bushel (about 24 pounds) of Cortland and Jonathan varieties.
The crisp, juicy fruits are ideal for snacking, but we arenât going to eat that many apples before they go bad. Thankfully, my recipe bank is full of apple ideas.
Having grown up in apple-rich Washington state, and in a house with an apple tree in the backyard, we frequently had a surplus of apples this time of year. We would use as many of those apples as possible.
Worm holes? Turn the usable parts into applesauce. Bruised? Cut off soft spots and use in pie. Not juicy enough to tempt snackers? De-core, fill with chopped spiced nuts and syrup, then bake.
One recipe I have only made a couple times, however, is apple spice cake. The recipe is filed in the back of my head, far behind more common concoctions. The typical apple cake doesnât set itself apart as a must-bake, so the recipe has suffered years of neglect. But I can change that with one simple addition: rum.
I came across the idea years ago, when some friends came over for a cake party. We baked cakes, listened to the band Cake and ate cake. (My idea of fun is much different from most peopleâs, but I have some like-minded friends.) We had just finished making a yellow cake when one friend splashed some rum into the apple spice cake batter as an experiment. We were all impressed with the finished product, and how well the rumâs notes of molasses complemented the apples.
In the years since, Iâve made one or two apple cakes, and neither was as enticing. So I opted to incorporate rum again this year.
I used a Bermudian black rum for full flavor, though you could use a gold or spiced rum if you prefer. Keep all other varieties in the liquor cabinet; white rums will not add any flavor, and fruit-infused rums will significantly alter the flavor profile.
Warning: Not all the alcohol cooks out. Your end product will be slightly boozy, so keep it out of childrenâs reach.