Much of my family is from Iowa. It is a state with very nice highways (well maintained, no potholes like Michigan and Illinois although they do sometimes come with the stench of surrounding pig farms), miles of corn fields, a State Fair that teaches a city girl a thing or two, and comfort food. If I were to decide what phrase to print on all Iowa license plates it would be “Home of Comfort Foods.” Every time we make the five hour drive from Chicago to visit my grandmother and my sister, we start to anticipate all of the delicious, sinful food we will eat. Our visits to Iowa are a time and place when any knowledge I have of fat grams or partiality for all fresh ingredients gets tossed out the window in exchange for good, home, Iowa cooking.

My sister is an amazing cook. She is older than I am and was out of the house before I was born. So, it has been as an adult that I have started learning from her in the kitchen. Every time I leave her house, I have a newly scribbled recipe in my purse. Certainly, this is not the last time I will reference her or one of her recipes on this blog. One of my favorites, which is one of the easiest recipes ever and ALWAYS pleases the crowd is her Apple Crunch Cake. I now make it almost every time we have houseguests in the fall or winter just to have it around to nibble on in the afternoon. Actually, I have often noticed quite a bit of it disappearing around breakfast time. It could almost serve as a coffee cake.

I have been asked for this recipe dozens of times and have never passed it along to anyone. I think it has been fun for me to pretend it was my sister’s amazing, secret recipe when in fact it is no secret at all. I suppose if I am going to start blogging about food and recipes, I better start fresh as an open book. So, here, it is…. my sister’s Apple Crunch Cake. Enjoy!

Apple Crunch Cake

3 cups flour
1 1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t nutmeg
1 t cinnamon
3/4 t salt
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
2 1/4 cup sugar
2 t vanilla
3 cups chopped, fresh apples (granny smith is my favorite)
1 cup chopped nuts (optional, I never include it and I don’t know why but now I don’t want to change)


Sift all dry ingredients except sugar. Beat eggs lightly. Add oil, sugar and vanilla and continue to mix. Add dry ingredients and incorporate. Stir in chopped apples and nuts (optional). Batter will be very stiff. Bake at 350 degrees in a greased and floured 9 x 13 inch pan for approximately 50 minutes.

My sister says it is delicious with caramel sauce. I have never taken the time… it is so good on its own.