A slice of cake with Charles Dickens

This summer was hot, humid, and full of sunshine. In other words, it was amazing. But as we’re nearing the end of September, I feel it is perhaps time that I start to let it go. Soon it will be October and the leaves will be falling. I’ll be making pumpkin pie and drinking tea under a blanket. We recently got a taste of fall with a couple of cooler days complete with grey skies and menacing winds. While I missed walking outside in shorts and a t-shirt, I loved being able to turn off my air conditioning and reintroduce myself to the wonderful world of wearing socks.

I probably don’t need to tell you that apples are delicious at the moment. So to go along with the crisp fall air, I thought it would be the perfect time to bake a little something with apples. I’m pretty sure that I’ve had an apple every day of my life, and that isn’t even an exaggeration. Since I live in Ontario, I have access to an amazing array of apples almost all year and I like to think that I take full advantage of that. Over the years, I’ve grown more and more interested in apples, their history and all the varieties. I really want to read Rowan Jacobsen’s Apples of Uncommon Character. (Because when I like something I tend to read about it. It’s just what I do.)

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And speaking of reading, did you know that Charles Dickens was a big fan of apples? When you think of Dickens you might think of plum pudding and all things Christmasybut it turns out the man really loved his apples. He especially liked baked apples and he ate them pretty much every day when he was travelling by boat because he thought they helped with seasickness. This is what he had to say about his favourite treat in a letter he wrote to his sister-in-law in 1867:

“If ever you should be in a position to advise a traveler going on a sea voyage, remember that there is some mysterious service done to the bilious system when it is shaken, by baked apples.”

(Source: The Awl)

So I decided to make some mini fresh apple cakes in honour of Dickens and the upcoming fall season. I love how rustic they turned out and how the chunks of apple insisted on bursting through. They were spiced with cinnamon and sweetened with brown sugar, just like the baked apples Dickens loved. These cakes are particularly tasty with a cup of spicy tea.

If you’re looking for more info on Charles Dickens and food, check out Eating and Drinking with Charles by Tori Avey on The History Kitchen. Cheers!

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