Whole Grain Apple Chai Sheet Cake

A snapshot of my working life (because I don’t do snapchat):

Quelcy parks nefariously (after circling the block to avoid a fire truck and a police car in the illegal parking zone…suspicious, to say the least!), then walks briskly to the park’s edge, where the most brilliantly colored maple trees hang low enough to reach from the slope of the hill. She proceeds to cut the low-hanging branches quickly, with a feigned authority in case anyone is watching (which they definitely do in this neighborhood. The old people don’t have anything better to do besides watch the younger generation of crazies). She then squats, like a hungry peasant child, and brushes the fallen leaves into a trash bag as if they are food scraps from the delicatessen. She returns to her car with a sizable bundle of foliage and a trash bag of leaf debris. 

How was your day?

Whole Grain Apple Spice Sheet Cake // www.WithTheGrains.com

So “why” is probably the question you have after reading that. Oh you know, just your average day in the life of a frugal, “nature-inspired” stylist en route to styling a wedding vow renewal ceremony in a building with enough chipped paint and industrial surfaces to make my eyes glaze over happily. In other words, “I was really feeling fall.”

Whole Grain Apple Spice Sheet Cake // www.WithTheGrains.com

When I told the Urban Farmer I had to scavenge leaves for the shoot, he said, “you should take the neighbor’s leaves. Their color is so beautiful.” He said it without pause, without having to rack his mind for the beauty of fall. I had almost missed those leaves, their deep burgundy color fading to my periphery. I loved him so much in that moment, when I saw how thoughtfully he approached nature, taking the time to catalog the wild brush strokes of the season, even the ones in the more understated, moody tones. 

Whole Grain Apple Spice Sheet Cake // www.WithTheGrains.com

While my own approach to channeling the season may be a little over the top, maybe even a little illegal (or in the least, frowned upon), his was so pure, so poetic- it’s fall, take in the colors on the path you walk daily. There’s a deep beauty in the simplicity of the everyday. This cake is a little like the neighbor’s leaves. It’s not too complicated, but it’s a way to enjoy fall to the fullest. 

Quelcy Signature


Whole Grain Apple Chai Cake

About this Recipe: It’s the time of year for tea and spices, and this cake has both! The real beauty comes from the apple design, so express yourself. Experiment with varying apple peel colors too. 

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Brown Butter Apple Cake with Scotch Caramel

Before Siri, before GPS, before smart phones and even before flip phones, our adventure began with an idea and a map. Yet, like so many adventures with my oldest sister, these adventures often went awry.  Our idea had been to picnic at a nearby lake, flanked by fiery trees blazing with autumn’s robust palette. There was one snag- our horrible sense of direction.

Brown Butter Apple Cake with Scotch Caramel // www.WithTheGrains.com

Yet, like so many routed plans gone awry, our failure to navigate led to something far more endearing- the discovery of an old church/schoolhouse and a playground covered in fall’s leaves. It wasn’t the new sort of playground, with bright, shiny plastics and padding at every possible fall. It was the death-trap sort with metal, concrete and chain links, a remnant of the old schoolhouse. I was still a child at the time, and the monkey bars made me forget the abandoned lake goals.

Brown Butter Apple Cake with Scotch Caramel // www.WithTheGrains.com

The ground was a lake of its own- with thick piles of fallen leaves. Every footstep was accompanied by a swooshing noise and a feeling reminiscent of walking through sand. These leaves swirled and gathered by the graves of the church’s old cemetery. The neat rows were now wonky, and time had chipped away at the crisp stone. We were surrounded by stories, and in the absence of other human beings, the whole place seemed to exist just for us.

Brown Butter Apple Cake with Scotch Caramel // www.WithTheGrains.com

We eventually discovered the lake, with its blue waters and sailboats gently floating on the horizon, but by then, our interest had shifted. We returned again and again to the schoolhouse. It became our “secret place.” Our other sisters pestered and pried, trying to disclose the location, but my lips were sealed, as if protecting a key to a magical kingdom.

Brown Butter Apple Cake with Scotch Caramel // www.WithTheGrains.com

The serendipity of the discovery of our secret place made it all the more special. The quiet of that park and the way the leaves would blanket the earth came to epitomize fall. Even though distance and the years now separate me from that secret place, I still travel back there in my mind with each autumn’s passing. This cake, like my secret place, is an ode to embracing fall.

Single-Grain

Happy Autumn!
-Quelcy

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Whole Wheat Cinnamon Spice Layer Cake with Chile Chocolate Sauce

March 2015

The first sensation to hit me was the smell of soil, then the warmth embraced me, and then the color consumed my vision. The color green seemed so foreign to my eyes and nearly forgotten. I had left the muddy, murky, chilly outdoors and stepped inside a greenhouse, where fat, fluffy rabbits nestled in an enviable way, and the chickens were surely squawking the latest gossip. The downy chicks, the paper-thin seedlings, the climbing kale, the pop of pepper color in the corner, all of it seemed to say, “It’s time to emerge from hibernation!” It’s amazing what a dose of plants can do to your spirits!

Cinnamon Cake by With The Grains

This cake, like an early spring wander in a greenhouse, will tease your senses and bring you to life. Cinnamon, when used more robustly, adds quite a spiciness. Top that with a spicy chocolate, and you’ll start the feel the warmth that looms just around the corner.

Single-Grain

Spice Up Your Spring!
-Quelcy

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Spice Layer Cake with Chile Chocolate Sauce

About This Recipe: 
This recipe has three main components- a cinnamon simple syrup, a chile chocolate sauce and the cake itself- but none of them are very difficult. For the chili chocolate sauce, I used a dried Morita chile from my local Mexican grocer. You could also try the international section at your grocery store. You could use a variety of dried chiles, just do your research to prevent unwanted heat levels (whatever your heat level preferences may be). Cinnamon itself adds quite a kick to the cake too, so this is a very flavorful, spicy combination.   

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