As I mentioned on my snow day, I will take any opportunity to bake. Sometimes, however, those opportunities are not exactly pleasant circumstances, as was the reason for making this cake. An acquaintance of my mother’s passed away. Since I knew I had the day off and would be baking anyways, I offered to bake something for the grieving husband. I am not very good at offering condolences or wise words after the passing of a loved one. However, food is something I can do. I have learned in the last year or so that you don’t need to be an expert in grief counseling to be there for a friend. Just being there and offering whatever you can is enough, and often appreciated more than you might know.

I adapted this recipe from one of my favourite recipes from one of my favourite cookbooks: Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O’Connor. This book has everything I love – decadent recipes for delicious desserts, beautiful illustrations, extra tips and in formation, and lots of beautiful details (polka dots, frills and dessert quotations). If you are like me – girly and a dessert-lover, you should seriously consider buying this book! I haven’t made a lot of recipes from it, but so far everything has been delicious.

I started with the recipe for My Favourite Cream Cheese Pound Cake and went from there. I halved the recipe so it would make one cake instead of two. I have lots of apples in the fridge, some of which are going soft and needed to be used up, so I thought that an apple cinnamon pound cake sounded pretty tasty. I made a streusel, and added some chopped almonds that have been sitting on my counter since last week’s 5 day fast forward.

What I did is make the recipe as directed, then poured half the batter in a loaf pan. I topped this with half of the streusel and 2 chopped, peeled apples. Then I added the rest of the batter and topped with the remaining streusel. It looks like it turned out well – kind of sorry I won’t get to taste it, but I’m glad to be able to offer something to a grieving family. Only 2 minor issues – the apples increased the bake time A LOT (it took about an hour and a half)…and getting it out of the pan. I let it cool, then loosened with a knife, but for some reason only the top half came out when I flipped it over. I was able to use a spatula to loosen the bottom half and set it directly on top, and then flip the whole thing together and I think it looked okay.

Mmm…the batter for this cake is so yummy! That is my one major weakness – when I am baking, I just can’t stop myself from eating the batter and licking the bowl – and I know all that tasting adds up!

Here’s the adapted recipe:

Cinnamon Apple Almond Pound Cake

Adapted from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O’Connor

3/4 cup butter, at room temperature

4 oz (half a package) cream cheese, room temperature

1  1/2 cups sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 large eggs

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

2 small apples, peeled and chopped

Streusel:

1/4 cup butter, softened

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup flour

Several dashes cinnamon

1/4 to 1/3 cup chopped almonds

Preheat oven to 325. Spray a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Make the streusel: combine butter, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon until crumbly. Stir in the almonds, set aside.

Beat the butter and cream cheese together in a large bowl with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue beating until pale and fluffy. Beat in the salt and vanilla.

Add the eggs to the butter mixture one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift the flour along with the baking powder into the batter (I just measure them both into a fine mesh strainer and shook it over the batter) and, using a large rubber spatula, fold in until no traces of flour remain and the batter is smooth.

Spread half of the batter into the prepared pan. Top with half of the streusel and the chopped apples. Spread remaining batter over the apples and sprinkle with remaining streusel . Bake until the top is golden and slightly cracked (this was about 90 minutes for me, but I would start checking after about 75 minutes) and a skewer inserted comes out with only a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan for at least ten minutes, then run a knife around the sides and turn the cake out on the pan to cool completely before serving.

This cake freezes beautifully. If you want to make plain pound cake, just omit the apples and streusel and bake for 60 to 75 minutes. You can double the quantities above to make two. This cake is great in trifle.

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