Back in the 1970s when I was in the landscape design business I used to travel from Missouri to Tennessee early each spring to buy plants from wholesale nurseries in and around McMinnville, TN. On my trips I always searched out good, local restaurants at meal time and that state used to have lots of little mom and pop cafes, now, sadly gone and replaced with chain restaurants or fast food places.
The employees at one of the wholesale nurseries always ate lunch at the Gay-Lo Cafe downtown. It was run by Gay and her sister, Lois, thus the name. It was one of those blue plate special places I love to find, where you choose from whatever the special of the day was, something like meatloaf or fried chicken or ham, a choice of vegetable and mashed potatoes and gravy. It was good, Southern home cooking. The nursery guys swore the desserts were the best in the state.
After eating at the Gay-Lo for several seasons and always having the apple cake, the owners had come to recognize me. One day I asked Gay if she would sell or share her apple cake recipe and she said, "Sure hon, wait a minute, and I will."
She motioned me over to an empty table and said, "Here, write this down. The recipe has been in my family for generations. Probably everyone around here make it but customers tell me mine is the best."
I wrote the recipe on a napkin just as she dictated it, on March 21, 1977. Over the years I've made only a couple of minor changes, less cinnamon, a little less sugar. A few times I've made it using 3 or 4 rose geranium leaves laid on the bottom of the pan before the batter is poured over. Sometimes I make it and don't put on the icing, it's probably even better that way unless you really like sugar. I hope you enjoy the recipe!
4 cups apples, sliced and sliced again (I like a combination of Jonathan and Granny Smith)
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks butter, softened
Slice apples and set aside
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
1- Cream together butter and sugar.
Add eggs and mix well.
2- Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt, mixing
3- Add the flour mixture into the sugar-butter-egg mix, stir together well but don’t over-mix.
4- Add the chopped apples and mix.
5- Pour into oiled and floured 11 x 15 inch cake pan. Bake about 40 minutes or until a knife inserted into cake comes out clean.
Icing - this is really sweet, the cake is good without it, but the original recipe calls for this
1 stick butter, cut in pieces
4 tablespoons milk or water
4 tablespoons brown sugar mixed with 4 tablespoons flour
dash of salt
Bring to a simmer and let cook for about 10 minutes, stirring often.
Add 3/4 cup any kind of favorite nuts.
Spread on still-warm cake.
my website and you'll find more recipes listed in the descriptions of some of my books. Homemade Crackers has a sample recipe, so check that out, too. And you can search this blog for lots more of my recipes, as well.