Cast-Iron Irish Apple Cake and The Healer of Briarwood
There are so many recipes for Irish Apple Cake, and the majority of them look delicious, which means I will be trying more of them in future. With March upon us and St. Patrick's Day coming soon, I'm honoring the Irish folk in my books, and for this post it's Finnegan Brody from The Healer of Briarwood.
I have a wee bit of Irish in me, but not enough to claim the beautiful island as an ancestral home. I'm more closely aligned with Scotland and England, but every now and again I have a hankering to explore the isle of magic and myth, green hills, and tasty butter (seriously, best butter ever).
While browsing through the variety of apple cake recipes, I got to thinking what is it about these apple cakes that make them Irish? Is it really an Ireland tradition? Do they just like apples and make a lot of cake? I did a bit of digging and did not find all that much except that apples in Ireland seemed to at one time be closely aligned with Halloween.
Then there is the apple tree in Celtic mythology, and the story of Connla of the fiery hair, or the Arthurian legend, Avallon, and even Merlin who "is said to have worked in an apple grove." (read more here)
"Apples have been grown in Ireland for at least 3000 years. Indeed, St. Patrick is said to have planted a number of apple trees in Ireland, including one at Ceangoba, a settlement close to where Armagh is now situated." (source here)
Since I'm not actually writing a book about the history of apples in Ireland, my research ended there.
Although millions of pounds and euros worth of apples are imported every year, they have a few varieties grown there today that look delicious, and no doubt this recipe would have been much better using one of their varieties.
What does all this delightful apple history have to do with Brody and apple cake? Suffice to say, learning something new is always interesting, and it's likely that Brody enjoyed many an apple cake before he left Ireland for the rugged mountains of Montana.
An Excerpt from The Healer of Briarwood
Katharine breathed in the unfamiliar scents emanating from the quaint, one-street town of Briarwood. The usual bouquet of livestock fragrances permeated the air, and yet somehow the aroma of grass, pine, and delicious baking overpowered the hay, horses, and privies.
“Bessie, I believe we need a visit to whatever eating establishment is responsible for that wonderful smell. We can settle . . .” Katharine looked around the town with equal measures of amusement and concern. “Do you see the hotel?”
“Perhaps it is around the corner.”
“Perhaps.” She doubted it, though. She had hoped for a hot bath and a comfortable bed rather than more nights in the tent. The men set up a luxurious camp, but Katharine longed for a private bath in which to relax and wash away the dust from the past two days. What should have been a day’s travel had become two. She considered it a necessary sacrifice to obtain the information she needed on the survey.
A boarding house at the end of the road in front of them displayed a vacancy sign. Katharine decided she would prefer the tent rather than stay in a place near the saloon. Another cursory study of the buildings presented one large enough to possibly have accommodations, though she could see no sign from her vantage point.
“Let us look into this building here.” She pointed to the large wood structure on the corner.
“If they do not have rooms, Miss Katharine?”
“Then it will be the tent for us.” Katharine nodded to the boarding house. “Unless you prefer to sleep there.”
Bessie shook her head and remained quiet.
“Goodness, Bessie, this is an adventure.” Katharine opened the door and accepted Stewart’s assistance out of the coach. She smoothed the front of her dress and stopped when she realized they’d drawn the attention of passersby. “Stewart, please assist Bessie. I will see about accommodations.”
“Miss, you need not do that. I will—”
“I know, Stewart, and I thank you, but this is one thing my father never allowed me to do when traveling with him. He is not here, and so I wish to explore the town, or what there is of it.” Katharine raised a delicate brown brow when she next said, “And we will not be reporting everything to Mr. Kiely, will we?”
Stewart answered with a grin. “No, Miss, I don’t suppose there’d be much to tell, anyway.”
Excerpt © MK McClintock
Little did Katharine know, there would be a lot to tell . . .
I hope you make time every now and then to escape into a good book and relax. We are too often pressured to keep up grueling work paces, either from necessity or expectation, and forget that the quiet moments of peace are often even more important.
The Book: The Healer of Briarwood, book seven in the Montana Gallagher series.
The Beverage: Blossoms of Health tea from Mountain Rose Herbs
From the Kitchen: Scroll down for the recipe and links to more recipe options.
These Irish Apple Cake recipes all look worth trying. I plan on it! How about you? There were a lot of recipes with sauces, which I get since the cake is dense, almost bread-like. The apple cake is wonderful with breakfast, or as shown here, with a soothing cup of tea.
Cast-Iron Irish Apple Cake (This is the one I tried for this post, with a few modifications as seen below.)
Check out these posts on Apple-Jack Fritters or this tasty Irish Soda Bread.
Thank you for visiting!
Be well, be kind, and stay safe!
About Writer in the Kitchen: I love to be in the kitchen. Once upon a time I was going to be a pastry chef, and though my life took a different path (glad it did), my love for baking and cooking has never gone away. I share original and test-kitchen recipes, (often with book breaks) and you can always find recipe links and posts organized on my recipes page.