Thursday, October 07, 2010

Better than Pumpkin Cake

OK, so the pumpkin dump cake from the other day was a failure and a waste of ingredients, but not being one to give up too quickly, I decided to try another cake, a Romanian apple cake. I found a recipe at that claimed the cake was traditionally Romanian, and I can only take their word for it. I never once had homemade cake while in Romania this past summer.

At the orphanage where I volunteered in July, most of the cooking was done in an open kitchen, the one in the photo above where everything was cooked over open flames in big iron pots made by local Roma. Not once did these women provide dessert. It was all they could do to provide basic meals for 100 people using only donated ingredients, so you couldn't really expect them to also give us cake; but I bet anything if they had the time and the wherewithall, they would have made something wonderful.

In the compound, one of the houses full of children was run differently from the others. Instead of eating in the dining room with the other kids and eating the food prepared in the outdoor kitchen, the kids in this house ate at their own dining table because they had a housekeeper who cooked their meals in their own modern kitchen. Adina was a lovely woman from the village whose job it was to help take care of this special house and to cook the meals. I loved visiting the house because it always smelled so homey with potatoes or chickens or stew simmering on the stove. Some of the residents would talk about how Adina made wonderful apple cakes, too, but I never saw, sampled or even smelled them.

Once, someone picked a few apples from the nearby orchard, but they were bruised and mealy, and we let them rot a little before throwing them to the pigs. Other than that one small crate of duds, apples were rare and had to be donated in bulk by someone with extras. Fruit in general was so rare, in fact, that we had to scrap a craft project we had planned. We wanted to help the kids do apple stamping to create interesting designs for an art show, but the director explained to us that it would be cruel to give them apples to paint with but no apples to eat.

When Adina and the women by the monstrous pile of fire wood did get apples to cook with, I wonder if they made this cake. It's not bad, although it would be better with caramel or vanilla sauce. Here is a serving sample:

And here is the recipe.

1 comment:

Madame DeFarge said...

It's sobering to remember that for some people, cooking is for life, not for pleasure. Hope the cake turned out well.