This moist, fresh apple cake is known as my Mama’s signature dessert she often made using fresh apples and warm spices. The fresh fruit causes the cake’s moistness and flavors to intensify after a few days of baking. It’s easy to prepare and can be made in advance to save time in the kitchen.
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When I take this cake to family gatherings it quickly brings back memories of our sweet Mama Trahan. We all remember enjoying a piece of her cake after Sunday dinners or an afternoon visit in her home with a cup of her strong dripped Community Coffee made in classic Cajun style. She was not just a good cook, but always a gracious hostess.
Noelie LeMaire Trahan was born in 1909, the third of 4 children in Vermilion Parish just south of Kaplan, Louisiana. It was a time when families lived with a strong dependency on the land and each other. At the age of four, a contagious fever had taken the lives of both her parents within a few weeks of each other. She and her siblings then went to live with their grandparents. For some reason, she only finished the third grade but never appeared to be a woman of little education.
She spoke mostly Cajun French, and I can still hear her words of broken English, the new language she learned from her children after they began grade school. “Cher, Bon Dieu!” was one French phrase she said aloud. It was used when she had heard surprising news, or if one of us had fallen and hurt ourselves, or if she decided to make a wise call and not swear. It means, “Dear, good God!” and she said it often.
At the age of sixty-one, she faced another loss from the death of her husband. Even though she grieved deeply from these tragedies and hardships they didn’t seem to mark her life in a negative way. Rather, she left a mark on others from her upright character and nurturing love. A legacy I appreciate every day.
Her Fresh Apple Cake
Noelie was my momma’s momma and visiting her home and yard was like walking into the pages of Southern Living or Better Homes and Gardens. Her meals were always delicious and appealing to the eye. We experienced them on many Sundays and at holiday meals year after year, where she enjoyed the gathering of her four children and their families. A tradition she has passed on to me.
MaMa was always busy. I never knew her to stop her work unless it was to watch her favorite daytime soap opera or visit with some drop-by company. Then she’d make a strong drip pot of Community Coffee and serve it in small demitasse cups. Small because that’s all one needed of the potent brew.
She may have even served her fresh apple cake with it. I still use the faded, handwritten cake recipe that she gave me. It’s framed in my kitchen for quick access when the need for that cake arises. I sometimes make it for bereaving families in our community. When my husband smells this fresh apple cake baking he always asks, “Who died?”
Prepare your favorite bundt pan with oil and flour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine flour, salt, soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium bowl, whisk together and set aside.
In a large bowl beat the sugar and eggs until a lemon color then add the vegetable oil to the mixture and beat some more to blend well.
Next, add the flour mixture to the batter a small amount at a time.
The batter will be stiff.
Stir in the apples and optional nuts.
Spoon batter into the prepared pan evenly smoothing the top of the batter with the back of your spoon, but don’t pack down.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour.
Let it cool some then pass a dinner knife to release the cake from the pan.
Turn onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
Cake keeps for several days as it gets moister and more flavorful.
Keywords: fresh apple cake
“Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t!”
The cake will stand alone without nuts, but if you want to change it up a bit feel free to stir some in. Some people have nut allergies so if you can’t add them you’re not missing out on any of this cake’s goodness.
Fresh apple cake gets better with age and keeps well. After a few days, the apples release their moisture, and the flavors intensify. It’s a good idea to bake it midweek before weekend guests arrive at your door. You can store it in the refrigerator or freeze it to keep even longer, but I seldom get to do that. I hope you try it soon and find yourself saying, “Cher Bon Dieu!” or “Dear good God!” (if your french isn’t that good) because this fresh apple cake is fantastic!
“Successful mothers are not the ones who have never struggled. They are the ones who never give up, despite the struggles.”