“Tuesdays With Mommy”
The passage of time is perhaps the most equally painful and beautiful thing I can think of. That or childbirth. But since the passage of time is readily apparent in the current shift of seasons, I’ll stick with that today and leave the childbirth post (with zucchini brownies!) for another time.
Each Tuesday, with only a few exceptions, between June and September, I take Annabelle and Evelyn to the Farmer’s Market. This particular market is co-located with a great little neighborhood park. There’s room for the kids to run, climb, swing, and inevitably get soaking wet and filthy in the adjoining stream. Sometimes we just browse the produce stands and other times we buy what we need. We always purchase our dinner from one of the vendors and share the meal together, without rules, sitting in the grass and soaking up the evening sun. Annabelle will take a bite and then dash off and call to me, “WATCH THIS MOMMY!” She’ll perform some trick that requires a standing ovation and then dart back for a hug and another bite of food. Eveie prefers to sit on my lap. She holds her utensil in one hand and plunges her chubby little fingers directly into the food and then her mouth with the other, using my shirt as her napkin. On many occasions we’ve been the last people to leave, well after dark, just enjoying this most precious gift of life together. I can only describe these moments with my children as romantic. In a thousand lifetimes, I could not have enough of these evenings.
It hurts my heart to think these summer Tuesdays are coming to an end for the year and won’t last forever. At the same time though, I’m flooded with peace knowing this is how they are for now. The passage of time will cause my daughters to grow-up; it’s inevitable. How I choose to embrace their finite youth is up to me. I pray God will bless me with the privilege of growing with them across the changing seasons and through the passing years. I pray I’m raising them the right way, if there is a right way, and that they’ll pass traditions on to their children, the same way my parents did to me. Maybe that’s how you get to live across multiple lifetimes and get your own version of Tuesday Evenings to last forever: live joyfully; live fully; and teach the next generation to do the same.
This recipe for salted caramel apple date cake will surely take the sting out of bidding adieu to summer. It shouts, “Welcome Autumn!” by highlighting some quintessential fall flavors and filling your home with the unmistakable aroma of apples and cinnamon. It’s best enjoyed warm and accompanied by a hot beverage. The cake gets its intense apple flavor from FOUR sources of apple. Dates provide a lovely natural sweetness without imparting too much of a datey flavor. The caramel topping is so simple and not at all finicky. It doesn’t even require a thermometer. You can keep the cake loosely covered at room temperature for a few days. Use a sheet of parchment paper to catch the caramel that drips off the sides of the cake. Save the caramel in a small airtight container and serve it alongside each slice of cake if desired. Otherwise you could use it as an ice cream topping or for dipping apple slices.
Today I challenge you to make this recipe with a child or a younger friend. Enjoy the moment–laugh, learn, teach and make memories to last a lifetime and beyond.
- 18 Fresh Medjool dates, pitted and diced
- 1 cup / 240 mL Apple juice or apple cider
- 1 cup / 152 g All-purpose flour
- 1 cup / 120 g Graham flour (or sub whole wheat flour)
- 1½ teaspoons Baking powder
- 1 teaspoon Baking soda
- ½ teaspoon Ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (I'm sure ground nutmeg would be just fine if that's what you have on hand)
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
- 5 tablespoons / 70 g Unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon / 85 g Apple butter
- ¼ cup / 50 g Brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 Large Apple, peeled, cored and roughly chopped into pieces the size of your pinky finger nail
- 2 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons / 40 mL Apple juice or apple cider
- ½ cup + 2 Tablespoons / 127 g Brown Sugar
- 2 tablespoons Unsalted butter, room temperature
- ½ cup / 120 mL Heavy cream
- ½ - 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a 9-inch spring form pan or a standard size Bundt pan with butter or spray.
- In a small sauce pan, bring 1 cup of apple juice to a boil over medium-high heat. Add chopped dates and continue to boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Whisk the flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt together in a medium bowl.
- Using an electric mixer, beat butter, apple butter, and sugar together in a large bowl on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add dry ingredients and mix on medium-low speed just until a few streaks of flour remain. Gently add the date mixture with a spatula and then fold in the chopped apples. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 40-45 minutes or until the cake is just set. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan before transferring to a wire rack.
- Meanwhile prepare the caramel sauce:
- In a small heavy-bottom sauce pan over medium heat, combine apple cider and brown sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook for 5 minutes, swirling every minute or so to prevent it from burning. Add butter and continue to swirl until butter is melted. Add heavy cream and stir continuously for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add salt. Start with ½ teaspoon and add more to taste as caramel cools. It will appear very runny while it's hot, but as it cools, it will thicken to the perfect consistency.
- After the cake has cooled for at least 10 minutes, drizzle the caramel over top of the cake. To make this an easy clean-up step, place the cake and wire rack over a piece of parchment paper before adding the caramel sauce. After the caramel has set, the cake can be moved to a serving platter. This cake will keep for several days, loosely covered, at room temperature.