By Stacey Tol
In your pantry, locate the faded red folder bulging with loose-leaf internet recipes that you’ve been meaning to organize for the past 20 years. Thumb through the dog-eared stack looking for that recipe you found online ages ago when you decided to host the German booth for the International Food Fair at your son’s school—even though you’re not German.
After spending five minutes looking through every sheet in the folder, remember that the kuchen recipe is one of the few you did type up that one Sunday many moons ago, and that it is in the 3-ringed binder next to the sad red folder.
After having successfully located the neatly labeled and typed Apfel Kuchen recipe, read through the list of ingredients. Realize that you are out of cream cheese and lemons (as always) and do an OCD check for eggs, even though there were two dozen this morning when you made omelets.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and run to the grocery store for your two missing items.
Return from the grocery store 30 minutes later with cream cheese, a bag of lemons, paper plates, tampons, garbage bags, 13 apples, milk, dog food, Scotch tape, laundry soap, and toothpaste.
Combine: ½ cup butter, ¼ cup sugar, ½ tablespoon vanilla, and 1 ¼ cup flour in a bowl.
Note: The butter should be room temperature. However, since you never remember to take the butter out of the refrigerator on time, you will have to nuke it for a few seconds in the microwave. It’s likely you will overheat your first stick of butter and turn it into a puddle of yellow lava. Be sure to have extra butter on hand for your second and third attempts. Also, do not be cheap and use imitation vanilla. Only genuine extract will do. Add the flour to the bowl last.
Coat a 9” pie plate with cooking spray. Press the crumbly ingredients you just finished mixing onto the bottom and up the sides of the plate. You will have to use your hands to do this. Make sure you wash them.
Bake for five minutes, then cool.
With your blender on low, mix 6 ounces of room temperature (or microwave-softened) cream cheese with ¼ cup of sugar, ½ tablespoon of vanilla, and one egg. Pour this mixture over your cooled crust. Lick the bowl afterwards. You will probably not get salmonella poisoning.
Start washing and peeling tart apples. You’ll need 5 or so, but you are bound to overestimate and will be eating Honeycrisps for days. You’ll need 1 ½ cups of sliced apples and 1 ½ cups of chopped apples. Mix them in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of apple juice (use a good kind like Martinelli’s), 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, and ½ teaspoon of lemon juice. (Squeezing lemons is annoying but necessary—you don’t want the apples to brown.) Gently spoon the apples over the cream cheese mixture.
Find that nifty pie-crust guard hiding under your muffin tins at the back the cabinet. Place it over the crust and slip the pie into the oven for 45 minutes. Meanwhile…
Combine ⅓ cup of flour, ⅓ cup of brown sugar, ½ cup of oats, and ¼ cup of room-temperature butter. Use your hands again. It’s more fun. Do not be tempted to pet your dog.
Sprinkle the mix you created in step 12 onto your pie. (Remove your pie from the oven first unless you are feeling brave.)
Bake the pie an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden.
Remove the kuchen, let it cool, and eat with vanilla ice cream (obviously).
You will find that this pie—which has become your husband’s all-time favorite dessert—is as delicious now as it was all those years ago when you first baked it. You may have to explain to newbies that Apfel Kuchen translates to “Apple Cake.” You may also have to explain that when you went to Germany for the first time a few years ago, you learned your signature dessert isn’t authentic at all. It will not matter in the least.
About the Author
Stacey Tol has been a mom for nearly 21 years and has run the gamut from double strollers to driving lessons. Once her her three college-age kids became mostly self-sufficient, she returned to school and earned her MFA in creative writing. Now, between rock climbing with her son and playing Jackbox games with her whole family, Stacey likes to write about the funny parts of life.