Winter is here. Are you ready? Honestly, I don’t know if I am or not. Snow boots out, snow tires ready to put on the car, heating system checked, woodpile stacked beautifully. Still, perhaps due to a cosmic balancing of order, just as it’s getting colder and darker here in New England, I am beginning to feel lighter and more optimistic inside. No doubt you remember a few weeks back that I wrote a lot about darkness, about personal changes I wasn’t ready to discuss directly on these pages. I was touched by how many of you reached out to me, how those connections and support set the stage for change and growth. My mother turned 90 in September and it’s been a hard road between us for as long as I can remember. Love and duty put me in a place to be her caretaker, her needs changing with age, but our relationship remains strained with a lifetime of difficulties amplified in the face of her growing more dependent and frail. I needed to step back for a while, needed to clear the time and emotional energy to take care of myself. It’s not been an easy road―I am much better at tending to others than I am to myself. At least I was, because I can honestly say now I am making the most of the time and space I cleared to heal. It’s been a time of self improvement―I’ve been working with a trainer, eating better, exercising more, reading self-help books. I still have a long road to go, but I feel stronger now and readier than ever for the tasks ahead.
In the spirit of taking care, our family has a tradition of getting our flu shots together and then going out to breakfast afterward. The anticipation of blueberry pancakes, veggie omelets with home-fried potatoes and hot coffee in a crowded, lively diner takes the sting out of a morning at the hospital, where we willingly offer our arms to the kind nurses for our annual dose of good health. During the long wait for a table at Lou’s this past Saturday, we were treated to apple cider doughnuts. While I am not usually a fan of sweets for breakfast, they were delicious that day and made the wait easier. These Mini Apple Cider Yeast Cakes were inspired by the doughnuts at Lou’s that morning. They are light and airy, sweetened only by the cider and a bit of maple syrup. They are great for breakfast with apple sauce and hot coffee, or would be equally delicious for dessert with a bit of ginger cream and tea. Simple, delicious, immensely versatile, you will want to make these right away with the freshly pressed cider. Enjoy.
I look forward to seeing you in my kitchen, gathering flavors, soon.
APPLE CIDER MINI YEAST CAKES
Yield: 12 small cakes
12 mini-bundt cake pans or
1 traditional cupcake pan for 12 cupcakes
- Butter for pans
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- ½ cup apple cider
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast
For the glaze:
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons apple cider
- Butter the mini-bundt cake pans or cupcake cups. (If using mini-pans, set on top of a cookie sheet large enough to hold them.) Set aside.
- If you have a bread machine, place all the ingredients in the bread machine and set to quick dough cycle.
- If mixing by hand or with a standing mixer, beat together the maple syrup, butter, apple cider, eggs and vanilla extract until creamy.
- Sift together the dry ingredients. Fold dry ingredients into wet.
- When your batter is ready, pour it into the prepared cake or cupcake pans. Cover loosely with parchment paper. Allow to sit for one hour.
- About 15 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Remove parchment paper. Place cakes in oven and bake until puffed and golden, about 20 minutes.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool completely, then turn the cakes out on to a clean work surface.
- Prepare the glaze by beating together the powdered sugar and apple cider. Drizzle over the top of the cakes.
- Serve and enjoy.
- Serve for breakfast with coffee, tea or hot cider, applesauce and 3-minute eggs.
- If serving for dessert, add a dollop of whipped cream to the plate and a few pieces of your favorite dessert chocolate.
- Consider making these a part of Sunday brunch with an Heirloom Tomato Tart and a seasonal fresh fruit salad.