I set myself a challenge for 2009 – to cook (and blog) something new from each of my cookbooks. Then I counted them and realized that would mean cooking Real Food at least every other day… so the Cookbook Challenge has been extended through oh, 2015 or so. Weekly is a good goal, every two weeks is a realistic goal.
I decided to start with my absolute favorite cookbook, the Radzvilowicz Family Cookbook. When I was in high school my mom, inspired by her sister Pam’s family newsletter "The Radzvilowicz Reader," collected recipes and anecdotes from her extended family and published about 200 copies of this cookbook. Now we have all our favorite "growing up foods" in one place, as well as the traditional dishes we would share at the annual Christmas party and Summer Picnic. (And a couple oddities – you don’t often see Pickled Herring on the same page as Toasted Corn Flake Sandwiches.) The design on the cover includes a traditional Polish good luck symbol and a pair of pysanki, or decorated eggs.
Ida’s Apple Cake actually comes from the other side of the family, but my mom included it in the cookbook anyway. It’s not strictly a new recipe since I ate it nine bajillion times growing up, but I was in the baking aisle the other day and saw the apple pie filling and realized I hadn’t ever made it for Paul. As kids, we used to eat this for breakfast when we’d have friends sleep over (no wonder we were so popular!) Ida was my dad’s mother, and at her house we ate cake as dessert. She lived on a cattle ranch, and to my granddad breakfast was strictly steak, eggs, and toast with homemade jam. (Though I do remember one time he and I split a container of Braum’s Butter Pecan Ice Cream for breakfast, under strict orders not to tell my parents!)
Ida’s Apple Cake
1 pkg white or yellow cake mix
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
1 can apple pie filling (you can use cherry instead, but I prefer apple)
Preheat oven to 350°. Pour oil into 13×9 cake pan, covering the bottom. Add cake mix, eggs and water to pan. Stir until blended (it will still be lumpy, just get the big cake mix chunks broken up but don’t stress about the little ones.) Scrape sides of pan and spread evenly.
Spoon pie filling onto batter, and fold in enough to marble. Sprinkle sugar liberally on top to make a crunchy crust (you can also mix cinnamon into the sugar first.)
Bake for 40-50 minutes. The cake should still be soft but not doughy. Good hot or cold.