We arrived home to Nantucket last week refreshed from our journey up north to the Maine coast. Maine is filled with such natural beauty. I find my spirit drawn to its rustic ways. It’s hard granite coastline weathered and worn. Houses sat just in their place, some long abandoned others lovingly lived over generations. And the flowers, oh the wildflowers, fields upon fields of them. Purple-blue asters, ethereal Queen Anne’s lace, bright yellow flashes of coreopsis and black-eyed Susans all against wild grasses and greenery now graying with the changing seasons. In the mist it seems a scene from a dream, all at once haunting and alive, I inhale deeply a breath of wild sea air, pinching myself-“is this real”? It is real and I am grateful.
Wild (actually feral) apple trees are everywhere in Maine, scattered about along roadsides, along pastures and fields. Varieties long forgotten, some sweet, some mellow, some tart and crisp. We fill our baskets quickly alongside heavily traveled roads. Cars slow and passengers stare-“are they picking those”? Yes, yes we are. Foraging is free and the apples are plentiful. Some will have bugs, but that is ok, they have not been sprayed. These are heirloom varieties you cannot buy at the supermarket. As we pick I feel like they need to be documented least they may be forgotten forever. I believe there are some who do this work.
So, of late, I have been inspired by the changing seasons and the gifts of late summer/early fall. Apples are making an appearance at the table these days. This cake is a recipe I developed as an upside down version originally. Wanting to “pretty up” the top a bit I decided to reverse apple placement. My first attempt failed as the batter bubbled over the side and pooled at the bottom of the oven, burning. (The smell was fantastic, haha) A little adjustment of quantities and problem solved.