This past weekend I had the honor and privilege to be the guest of my great friend Alice Gabriner, White House Photo Editor, for a tour of both the East and West Wings of the White House. The experience was something that I underestimated. I had a profound feeling of history surrounding me. It was even more visceral than when I have visited ancient cities, museums and magical geographic locations. The sense of living history and the gravity of Barack Obama’s presidency became so apparent as we walked the halls of the White House. The pictures on the walls and in particular the pictures on the credenza behind the President’s desk in the Oval Office humanized the experience for me. It made me realize just how hard it must be to be him. Leader of the free world, historical figure, cultural icon, father, husband, friend…it’s an awful lot to grasp. The images that White House photographer Pete Souza shoots and that Alice chooses are the window into who this president is and all that he has to embody. Needless to say, I was impressed.
The White House’s East Wing was decorated for the holidays and they handed out a tour guide titled Simple Gifts. Inside the guide are details of each of the rooms that we traveled through and the uses of the rooms both historically and currently. Unfortunately, no picture taking was allowed. I was happy to see that inside the guide was a recipe for a Holiday Apple Cake with Maple Glaze. So, even though I couldn’t take you all with me on the tour the least I could do is to share the recipe with you. The image here is of me sitting in the NY Times Chair in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room (one of the places you can take pictures) pretending to ask the hard questions… Enjoy.
A Recipe from the White House Pastry Kitchen
3/4 C. Canola or Safflower oil
1/2 C. Light Brown Sugar
1/2 C. Honey
1 Tsp. Vanilla
1 1/4 C. All Purpose Flour
1 Tsp. Baking Soda
1/4 Tsp. Salt
1 Tsp. Cinnamon
1 C. Grated Apples (Granny Smith or Golden)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease one 10-inch cake pan and place parchment paper on the bottom.
Combine oil, brown sugar, honey, vanilla, and eggs in the bowl of an electric or hand-held mixer. In a separate bowl sift the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add half of the sifted dry ingredients into the liquid mixture, and mix on low speed. Once everything is combined, add the grated apples and the remainder of the dry ingredients. Finish mixing by hand and pour into greased cake mold.
Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Take out of the oven and let cool before unmolding.
When ready to unmold, run a paring knife around the edge of the cake pan. Place a serving dish on top of the cake upside down and then flip the cake over onto the dish, carefully lifting the cake pan off the cake.
Makes one 10-inch cake
1/4 C. Maple Syrup
1/3 C. Confectioner’s Sugar
Once the cake is in the oven, mix together maple syrup and confectioner’s sugar over low heat until combined. Then increase heat and boil for 30 seconds. Set aside on the stovetop, but off the heat. Pour over cake once it is finished baking and on the serving dish.