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Elizabeth Karmel’s Grandmother Odom’s Apple Cake

Elizabeth Karmel’s Grandmother Odom’s Apple Cake
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If you love apples, you will not believe how much you will love this wonderful cake.

Apple picking season is in full swing out here on the East End of Long Island. It’s astonishing what a draw it is.  The traffic on weekends approaches that of high summer – which is to say awful. And it comes just as we’ve re-discovered how beautifully quiet this place is in Fall. During the week, we can navigate our beautiful countryside with ease. On weekends, it might as well be July.  But if there ever was a reason to forgive all those ‘up islanders’ enjoying apple picking, it’s our friend Elizabeth Karmel’s Apple Cake.

Elizabeth Karmel. Southern Charm from head to toe.

The Fist in the Velvet Glove, “Chopped’s” Elizabeth Karmel

If you are a Food Network TV fan, you’ll recognize Elizabeth the moment you see her. She’s often a judge on “Chopped”.  For non-viewers, “Chopped” revolves around professional chefs charged with cooking meals from baskets of improbable ingredients. Improbable doesn’t really do justice to some of the impossible combinations these poor souls have to work with.  As hard as the chef’s job is, the judges’ job is harder. They have to actually consume what’s cooked. And when they fail, Elizabeth epitomizes  ‘the fist in the velvet glove’. If you are unfamiliar with this particular expression, my own mother, a Canadian transplanted to Atlanta, explained it: It’s basically cutting somebody to shreds in a way so charming you don’t what hit you.  Elizabeth manages to do it with all the Southern charm in the world.  This North Carolina native comes by it naturally.

“Steak and Cake” puts two Iconic American foods together in one superb cookbook

Elizabeth is food force to be reckoned with.  She’s a whirling dervish of activity. Besides “Chopped”, she’s an Executive Chef, a food writer, a kitchen equipment designer, the author of three fantastic cookbooks and a wonderful friend.  Her latest book is a great metaphor for Elizabeth herself. It’s “Steak and Cake” (Workman Publishing 2019).  Think of your two favorite things to eat. For a lot of us, Steak—and Cake—are it. And who among us doesn’t love a great piece of cake? This is one great cake in a cookbook chock full of them. If you love Steak and you love Cake, you just have to buy this cookbook.

Grandmother Odom’s Apple Cake may just be the best apple cake we’ve ever baked.

Elizabeth grew up with three generations under one roof.  Her grandmother Odom was the family baker and known to bake something almost every day.  Her recipe is not at all complicated and Andrew assures me it’s a quick and easy bake.  It has very thick, almost cookie- like batter. The apples provide all the natural juice and give the cake it’s great moist texture. This cake is a terrific crowd-pleaser. Elizabeth herself says it “turns non-bakers into into bakers and prickly people into softer, nicer people.”  She might consider offering it as a consolation prize to those poor losing chefs of Chopped.  Here is the recipe, for which Elizabeth has a copywright:

Elizabeth Karmel's Grandmother Odom's Apple Cake

September 19, 2019
: 8-12
: 15 min
: 60 min
: An easy cake to bake, it just tastes like it isn't

Apple Season has met its match in a cake so full of apple-flavored goodness, you'll want to make it again and again.


  • 4 generous cups raw apples, peeled and cut coarse (about 5 large apples)
  • 2 cups of granulated sugar
  • ½ cup of vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chopped toasted walnuts
  • Baker's Joy Spray for the bundt pan
  • Step 1 Equipment Needed: Bundt Pan
  • Step 2 Preheat oven to 350F
  • Step 3 Peel and chop apples and set aside in a large bowl. Meanwhile, beat together sugar and oil in a stand mixer or by hand using a blending fork, and add eggs one at a time until creamy.
  • Step 4 In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon and soda. Add to batter in 3 stages.
  • Step 5 Remove from stand mixer and fold in chopped apples. The batter will be very stiff like cookie dough but will loosen up as the apples release their juice. Let sit for 5 minutes, stir well and add walnuts. Mix well.
  • Step 6 Pour batter into the bundt pan that has been sprayed with Baker’s Joy and place on a sheet pan to bake.
  • Step 7 Bake 60-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan 10 minutes, then invert on a cooling rack.
  • Step 8 Options:
  • Step 9 Sometimes my grandmother would make this cake with black walnuts that she gathered and cracked herself instead of traditional walnuts. If you like black walnuts, you will love them in this cake.
  • Step 10 Glaze: If you are serving the cake cool, a simple confectioner’s sugar glaze spiked with calvados and made with apple cider dresses this cake up.
  • Step 11 © ELIZABETH KARMEL 2019


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