0

The End of October

IMG_0363

A “backwards” view of the sunset. I think the view to the east was just as beautiful as the western view on the evening that we took this photo!

Thank you for visiting A Homespun Country Life!

~Kerstin, Elisabeth, and Gabrielle

0

Jack-o-Lantern

IMG_0573

For the first time in years, there is a carved pumpkin sitting out on our porch. Dad and I worked together to give this pumpkin his toothy grin. Mom let me borrow a candle holder from her stash, and now Jack is watching over our front porch each night. Our dog General thinks the pumpkin looks a bit strange when he’s glowing, so every now and then he steals the lid off the top and hides the candle holder.

Thanks for visiting A Homespun Country Life!

~Gabrielle

0

Piano, Roses, and Food

IMG_0674

Each fall, our piano teacher organizes a piano recital for all of her students. Although we love music, the recital isn’t our favorite part of playing the piano. Anyway, on Saturday we all dressed up and performed!

Gabrielle played a piece by Bach called Toccata in D minor. Elisabeth performed the original Voices of Spring by Johann Strauss. Kerstin’s piece was Rachmaninoff’s 18th Variation on a Theme of Paganini. A little bit later Elisabeth and Kerstin played a duet by Anton Arensky called Theme on a Russian Fugue. Since Kerstin is a senior this year and this is her last recital, she took a lovely bouquet of pink roses as a gift for our teacher.

IMG_0677

They are so pretty!

 

IMG_0683

IMG_0671

Each family brings something sweet to share during the intermission. We chose to make fruit “cobbler” style bars, using a favorite recipe which we will feature here on the blog sometime. This time we made half of the pan cherry and half peach. In the photo above, we had yet to add the topping and bake them, but I promise that they looked more delicious after those steps. 🙂 Both flavors were very popular, because none of the bars were left after the intermission!

 

IMG_0698

And here is a photo of all three of us girls with the Steinway piano.

 

Thank you for visiting A Homespun Country Life!

~Kerstin, Elisabeth, and Gabrielle

1

Day Nine: William Tell’s Never-Miss Apple Cake

This is Day Nine in a 9 day series featuring apples. Click here to start reading at the beginning of the series.IMG_0617

The recipe for this delicious moist apple cake, with a cream cheese center and an easy caramel topping, is one of our favorites to pull out each fall. The cake itself is full of apple, shredded carrot, and pecans in every bite. All of the best autumn flavors! Several times this cake has been the birthday cake choice, and it is always a gorgeous presentation. Here are more detailed directions, with the full recipe at the end of the post.

IMG_0458

For the cheesecake ribbon, beat a brick of cream cheese until fluffy.

 

IMG_0460

Add 1/4 cup sugar.

 

IMG_0463

And 1 egg.

 

IMG_0464

Beat until smooth and creamy.

 

IMG_0466

Perfect! Set it aside.

 

IMG_0471

For the cake: beat together the oil (or use half oil, half applesauce), 1  3/4 cup sugar, and 3 eggs.

 

IMG_0472

IMG_0474

Beat it until it’s good an’ frothy!

 

IMG_0455

In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients.

 

IMG_0475

Add the flour mixture to the oil mixture.

 

IMG_0478

And beat it until it’s combined.

 

IMG_0481

Lovely!

 

IMG_0483

Add the chopped apple, shredded carrots, and pecans!

 

IMG_0491

Fold it together!

 

IMG_0494

Grease and flour a 10-inch fluted tube pan. Time to put this cake together!

 

IMG_0503

Spoon most of the batter into the pan.

 

IMG_0508

Then scoop the cream cheese filling by little spoonfuls around the center of the cake, being careful that it doesn’t touch the pan.

 

IMG_0510

IMG_0514

Spoon the rest of the batter over the cream cheese filling.

 

IMG_0525

Bake at 350 degrees F. for 50-60 minutes or until it tests done with a toothpick.

 

IMG_0527

Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes before inverting it onto a wire rack to cool completely.

 

IMG_0529

Absolutely lovely!

 

IMG_0538

For the caramel icing, combine the brown sugar, butter, and milk in a saucepan.

 

IMG_0543

IMG_0544

Stir it until it’s smooth.

 

IMG_0545

IMG_0548

Let it come to a boil, stirring it occasionally. When it’s boiling, cook and stir it for 1 minute.

 

IMG_0552

Remove from heat and whisk in the powdered sugar and vanilla until the icing is smooth.

 

IMG_0556

Gorgeous!

 

IMG_0562

Drizzle over the cake. The icing will cool and harden quickly, so be sure to work fast!

 

IMG_0566

Scatter pecan pieces across the icing, and press them in gently, so they stay put.

 

IMG_0567

IMG_0607

IMG_0617

IMG_0642

William Tell’s Never-Miss Apple Cake

Cream cheese Filling:
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
Apple Cake:
1 cup oil (may reduce to 1/2 cup and substitute applesauce for the amount you leave out)
1  3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
2 cups chopped peeled tart apples
1 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Caramel Icing:
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, cubed
2 Tbsp. 2% milk
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped pecans

For cream cheese filling, in a small bowl beat cream cheese and 1/4 cup sugar until smooth. Beat in egg; set aside.

In a large bowl, beat oil, 1  3/4 cup sugar, and 3 eggs until well blended. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients; gradually beat into oil mixture until blended. Stir in apples, carrots, and pecans.

Transfer half of the apple batter to a greased and floured 10-in. fluted tube pan; layer with cream cheese mixture and remaining apple batter. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 50-60 minutes or until cake tests done with a toothpick. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to wire rack to cool completely.

For the icing, in a large saucepan bring the brown sugar, butter, and milk to a boil. Cook and stir for 1 minute. Remove from heat; whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth. Drizzle over cake. (Icing will cool and harden quickly.) Sprinkle with pecans.

Yield:   12 servings

 

Let us know how this cake turns out for you!! 🙂

Thank you for visiting A Homespun Country Life!

~Kerstin, Elisabeth, and Gabrielle

1

Day Eight: Caramel Apple Slices

This is Day Eight in a 9 day series featuring apples. Click here to start reading at the beginning of the series.IMG_0337

Caramel apples are one of the most traditional fall treats out there, second only to pumpkin pie. However, most of us (including myself, I must admit) are a bit intimidated at the thought of making caramel at home. Doesn’t it always burn, or harden beyond edibility? And doesn’t it require rare ingredients that are difficult to obtain? Not this recipe! It’s super easy, and it didn’t burn for us, and we had all of the ingredients loafing in our kitchen. Most other caramel recipes call for heavy whipping cream, which we rarely keep on hand because it spoils so quickly; this gem of a recipe uses sweetened condensed milk instead. And anyway, wouldn’t most of us rather drink pure sweetened condensed milk than heavy whipping cream? No? Okay, maybe that’s just me. 😉

IMG_0284

First of all, we prepared all of the toppings that we wanted to dip the caramel apples in. We chose bright fall sprinkle decorations, chopped walnuts, chopped chocolate chips (or mini chips), and chopped fall-colored M&Ms.

 

IMG_0292

For the caramel, we place the butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup in a medium sized sauce pan with a heavy bottom.

 

IMG_0296

Then we add the sweetened condensed milk.

 

IMG_0308

Stir it together over medium heat. We were simply frantic when we saw some brown specks after about 30 seconds, but (to our extreme relief) the caramel hadn’t burned. So don’t be too hasty in throwing it away if it’s starts looking speckled. For we know: waste not; want not!

 

IMG_0311

Stir it until the caramel is silky smooth. Clip a candy thermometer on the side of the pan, too.

 

IMG_0318

When the caramel starts boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to watch and stir until the thermometer reads approximately 248 degrees F.

 

IMG_0328

When the temperature is at 248 degrees F., remove from heat and stir in a splash of vanilla extract.

 

IMG_0330

Superbe. See that rich color? It looks just like…well…caramel!

 

IMG_0323

Slice a few crisp apples.

 

IMG_0329

Place them somewhere easy to reach. You can dip them in lemon juice, if you wish.

 

IMG_0331

This is where the fun starts! We dipped each slice halfway into the caramel, but you could do almost any style. I think it would be cute to put them on little skewers and completely cover them.

 

IMG_0333

Then dip the caramel end of the apple into any of the toppings that you prepared earlier.

 

IMG_0334

Set the caramel-dipped apples on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and allow them to cool.

 

IMG_0337

Cute!!

 

Here is the full recipe.

Caramel Apples

1/2 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup, plus 2 Tablespoons sweetened condensed milk (Note: We just used about half of a 14 oz. can)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 or 3 large tart apples

In a heavy saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and milk; bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir until mixture reaches 248 degrees F. (firm-ball stage) on a candy thermometer, about 15-20 minutes. Reduce heat if necessary to keep it from scorching. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Slice apples into desired sizes. Dip each slice into hot caramel mixture, turning to coat. Decorate with favorite toppings (sprinkles, chocolate chips, chopped nuts, etc.) Set on parchment paper to cool.

 

Thank you for visiting A Homespun Country Life!

~Kerstin, Elisabeth, and Gabrielle