A slice of apple cake a day to keep the quarantine blues away

Today I drove to my parents’ house to pick something up off their porch. I talked to them with gestures and smiles and voices muffled by their storm door. Then I stopped at my sister Treasa’s house and waved to her and her husband and children through the glass.

They were all smiles and giggles and cuteness as I waved and blew them kisses, and it was adorable how excited they were by such a tiny interaction.

On the way home, though, I cried. This is how it has to be right now, and I accept that without question. But the interactions forced me to acknowledge something I had pushed aside. This whole social distancing experience is not easy.

Yes, we have FaceTime and Zoom and Skype and other ways to stay in touch. But I miss real physical interactions. And It’s OK to admit that these tools are wonderful, but not at all adequate replacements for the real deal.

As I drove home feeling a little sad, I saw a sign outside Smyth, a local family-owned jewelry store.

“Stay strong,” it said.

I was very touched by those words, written as they were by someone who is probably searching for strength right now.

Still, I am not going to tell you to stay strong. If you’re like me, you don’t need one more assignment or activity to add to your list. And there’s something to be said for admitting you are lacking in strength and need the help of others and God.

All I can really offer today is a recipe for a delicious apple cake. I thought I would share it with you in case you like to bake while in quarantine.

After all, we aren’t going anywhere for a while, and this cake cooks for almost two hours. The only strength you will need is for stirring and not eating five pieces in a row. But I won’t judge you if you do. Apples are super healthy, you know.

Jewish Apple Cake

Mix in large bowl:

6 large apples, peeled and sliced very thin
2 tsp. cinnamon
¼ cup sugar

Put in large bowl and beat until smooth:

3 cups of flour
2 ½ cups of sugar
½ tsp. salt
3 tsp. baking powder
1 cup canola oil
4 eggs
7 Tbsp. of orange juice
2 ½ tsp vanilla extract

Grease tube pan well. Put in small amount of batter, then apples, batter, apples, batter, apples, batter, apples on top. Don’t stress if you run low on apples for the top or if you have fewer layers than it says here. Making this cake is supposed to be stress-relieving. Trust that it will be OK because it will.

Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 45 minutes. Let it cool in the pan for about one hour while the house smells amazing and everyone drools. Then take it out of the pan and serve it. It’s good fresh. It’s good the next day. It’s good four days later. I think that’s about as long as we’ve had one last before the platter is licked clean. It’s delicious with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, but it’s perfectly wonderful on its own, too.

If you try it, I hope you enjoy it. And I hope you’ll have the chance to see the smiles of some of your loved ones today, even if you can’t be with them in person.

Rita Buettner

Rita Buettner

Rita Buettner is a wife, working mother and author of the Catholic Review's Open Window blog. She and her husband adopted their two sons from China, and Rita often writes about topics concerning adoption, family and faith.

Rita also writes The Domestic Church, a featured column in the Catholic Review. Her writing has been honored by the Catholic Press Association, the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association and the Associated Church Press.