Friday, November 4, 2011

Amanda Hesser: She Never Said Yes

As an inexperienced and naive food writer, I dreamed of having an article published in The New York Times Magazine. Amanda Hesser was the food editor and, from time to time, I would send her a story idea. She would graciously turn me down. I never made it into the magazine, but all of the other publications that said “yes” to my ideas helped ease the pain.

And now, here I am, writing about her. Amanda Hesser is this week’s selection on the Gourmet Live list of 50 Women Game-Changers in the food world that I and a number of fellow food bloggers are paying tribute to by posting a recipe from each on Fridays. She is no longer with the NYT magazine. Instead she is one of the founders of Food52, a blog community for food lovers. (Check out the section where you can ask for advice on food-related topic.)

I’ve wanted to make an apple cake all autumn, so I was glad to see this recipe on the Epicurious website. It’s from The Essential New York Times Cookbook, which Hesser authored. She said that icing isn’t necessary, and the cake works well as either dessert or for breakfast. This was one of the most popular reader recipes, and she never discovered the identity of Teddie.

With such healthy ingredients as apples, walnuts, and raisins. I decided to switch out one of the cups of all-purpose flour for whole wheat. The batter looked almost like caramel as I poured it into the pan. The finished cake is very moist—in fact, it was a bit too oily for my taste—and very sweet. A little too sweet for breakfast, so I would save this cake for dessert. And even though the toothpick came out clean when I tested the cake, next time I would let it bake a few minutes longer. However, it was delicious!

Teddie’s Apple Cake
From The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser

3 cups all-purpose flour [2 cups all-purpose flour and 1 cup whole wheat flour]
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups peanut, vegetable, or corn oil [I used canola oil]
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups peeled, cored, and thickly sliced apples [I used golden delicious]
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup raisins

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-inch tube pan. [I used non-stick spray instead.] sift together the flour, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda.

Beat the oil and sugar together in a mixer with a paddle (or in a bowl with a hand mixer) for 5 minutes. Add the eggs and beat until the mixture is creamy. Stir in the dry ingredients. Add the vanilla, apples, walnuts, and raisins and stir until combined. [I stirred in the apples, walnuts, and raisins by hand.]

Turn the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan before turning out.

Here are my fellow food bloggers. Be sure to check them out!

Joanne - Eats Well With Others
Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed
Susan - The Spice Garden
Claudia -A Seasonal Cook in Turkey
Heather - girlichef
Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney
Jeanette - Healthy Living
April - Abby Sweets
Katie -Making Michael Pollan Proud
Mary - One Perfect Bite
Kathleen -Bake Away with Me
Viola - The Life is Good Kitchen
Sue - The View from Great Island
Barbara - Movable Feasts
Kathleen - Gonna Want Seconds
Amy - Beloved Green
Jeanette - Healthy Living
Linda - Ciao Chow Linda
Nancy - Picadillo
Veronica - My Catholic Kitchen
Mireya - My Healthy Eating Habits


  1. You never know, she might say yes one of these days! Like how you make this healthier by using some whole wheat flour.

  2. You know she may say yes on her website. Perhaps you could do something frelance. I love the cake. It is a great time of year to make this. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I love this! It is a wonderful cake for fall. I've never made it but your photos have convinced me to give it a try. It was a perfect choice for our tribute to the fab fifty.I'm so glad you decided to join us. Have a wonderful weekend. Blessings...Mary

  4. It looks wonderful. Perfect for a brunch. A keeper.

  5. I love apple cakes, and I like the idea of enjoying this one without frosting. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Hi Linda, Just discovered your sites through a comment on mine and so glad I did. Lots of good stuff here! Look forward to reading more.

  7. What a great adaptation of the original recipe! Isn't it typical, though, that we all tweek recipes to make them suit our tastes and lifestyles? Excellent cake!

    You've done well despite never having a yes from Amanda! Having that yes would be the 'icing on the cake' and as she said, you just don't need it! Wink, wink!

  8. I'm planning on making this cake again, but this time I want to cut the amount of oil and substitute applesauce to keep the moistness but cut fat and oil. Any thoughts...

  9. Looks delish, especially with all the big apple chunks in it. I think I would be ok with it for breakfast ;)