Apple of My Eye...

Let's be real for a moment - if you are having a party, especially a dinner party, you probably want to include me on the guest list. Why, you ask? It's not because of my dazzling wit and formidable intellect; it's because I will bring dessert. I will most likely bring dessert whether you ask me or not. It's really not even about you or your gathering, but because I am always looking for an outlet to dispose of the excess baked goods that result from my baking habit.

This is precisely how I found myself in the kitchen whipping up an apple pudding cake, a classic recipe from my mother's somewhat limited baking repertoire. It was the dessert she would prepare whenever she was entertaining or hosting a dinner party, because it was impressively delicious, even if it was somewhat homely in appearance. The addition of a cinnamon-scented, butter-based sauce elevates the moist, heavily spiced cake and adds an elegant touch. I've made it several times before, but it had been such a long time that it was one of the first things that popped into my mind when I discovered that we were invited to Justin's parents' house for Easter dinner.

Sure, transporting the sauce in a separate container would make for unnecessary logistical complications, and we'd also have to figure out a way to reheat both the sauce and cake to make sure everything would be served at the optimal temperature, but I was undeterred. Though not technically difficult or impressive in a conventional sense, I knew I needed to share the unparalleled deliciousness of this cake with my future in-laws as part of my ongoing mission to win my way into their hearts via their stomachs.

Only time will tell if my gamble will pay off, but really, this cake is kind of a sure thing in the flavor department. If you are looking for a dessert to serve at your next gathering and cake decorating isn't your strong suit anyway, please look no further than this recipe -- you seriously can't go wrong with this one. It is so good that your guests are bound to be impressed, no matter what it looks like.

Apple Pudding Cake with Cinnamon Butter Sauce
adapted from Classic Pillsbury Cookbook #153

For Cake:
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups chopped apples

For Sauce:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2/3 cups sugar
1/3 cup half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350° and grease one 8-inch square pan.
1. In a large bowl, beat brown sugar and butter 2-3 minutes. Beat in egg until combined.
2. Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Mix well.
3. Stir in apples. Spread batter in greased pan - please note that it may be stiff and hard to spread.
4. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
5. Meanwile, combine all sauce ingredients in a small sauce pan. Heat over medium heat until butter melts and sauce is hot, stirring frequently.
6. Serve warm sauce over warm cake.

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