I used to spend every summer break at my Oma and Opa’s house. My cousins and I would spend the warm July afternoons making cheap foam crafts from Dollarama and running around in the baseball diamond by their house. One of our classic family activities was baking the German Apple Cake recipe my Oma has made for over fifty years. The sticky dough crusting our fingers and the taste of cinnamon melting on our tongues has always been an Oma-Opa special. Some years, we would collect the apples ourselves from the crabapple tree that grew by the baseball diamond (though I'm almost certain now that it wasn't an actual crabapple tree, and just a regular apple tree with extremely small and sour fruit). My cousins and I would make the not-so-treacherous trek on our own, avoiding the stinging nettles that grew along the way, and would reach as high as we could to get the best apples from the highest branches. These apples always made for a sour filling, but that was okay because the sugar in the crust and the cinnamon that we drenched the fruit with helped to balance it out. If I’m being entirely honest, I don’t remember much of the process of baking. I don’t know who did what job or who was the best at cracking eggs. I can’t even remember the way Oma taught me to measure butter, which is why I just guess now. I do remember the kitchen, though. My grandparents always kept the world’s cleanest house. All the shiny fake-marble countertops smelled like Lysol and there were never any dishes in the sink. After every meal my Oma would take out her ‘crumb-collector’ (a handheld vacuum cleaner that sounds like a tornado when it’s turned on) and suck up all the dirt and fallen food that we couldn’t see. The placemats were printed with a map of PEI and we would shake them out in the sink after eating. We used the same blue willow china whenever we ate, but always drank from brightly coloured plastic sippy-cups because our Oma didn’t trust us with real glasses. The kitchen is the room I remember the best from the house, probably because we spent so much time cooking, and eating the things we would cook. Once, we tried to make smoothies from the black currants that grew in their backyard, but they came out so sour and full of seeds they were impossible to enjoy. I remember that vividly. I haven’t seen my Oma and Opa or my cousins in a very long time. We’ve been totally separated by Covid. Because of this, I hadn’t had apple cake in years, until I baked it with my mum this weekend. As the first bite of gooey filling and dry crust slipped down my throat it was like ten years of memories were suddenly unlocked, and I was back, sitting in their Mr. Clean kitchen, joking around with my cousins.
1 cup & 1 tbsp flour ½ tsp baking powder ¼ cup sugar 1 egg ⅓ cup butter
Sift flour and baking powder together (or just mix them, I won’t judge you) Beat in sugar and egg (beat until foamy) Cut butter into small pieces and mix all together with your hands Knead into dough and push with fingers into bottom of greased cake tin and ½” up the sides
Apples (4-6) Cinnamon
Peel and cut apples to come to edge of crust (about two layers) Add cinnamon as desired
1 cup & 1 tbsp flour ½ cup sugar ½ cup butter
Mix with hands to a crumbly mixture and sprinkle over apples (larger crumbles are best) Bake cake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until top is light golden brown