My dad has told a story basically my whole life that I never really got as a kid. It's called "The Dancer And The Starfish". Maybe you've heard it, maybe you hate it, and maybe your dad has told it to you dozens of times, so it means something to you no matter what. The abridged story by Loren Eiseley goes like this:
Hundreds of starfish were washed up on a beach. Early in the morning, the sun was rising and the tide was receding. A man who walked along the beach every morning saw a guy further down the beach, looked like he was dancing. When the man got closer, he saw that this guy was actually throwing starfish into the water. "What are you doing?" the man asked. "Throwing the starfish back in the ocean. They'll die if they stay on the beach." Man says, "But there are miles of beach and thousands of starfish - there's no way you'll get to all of them. You can't possibly make a difference." "No," said the guy, as he threw in another starfish, "but I made a difference to that one."
It is pretty sappy motivational stuff, but I like it. And I love hearing my dad tell the story. My nephew's baptism was this weekend - and he became my lil' godson! Someone at the service told this story. I guess we can get our motivation from anywhere, even if it's the generic places. I love baking for a lot of reasons, but mostly because the happiness it gives to people seems almost tangible. Smiles, gushes, licking fingers, sighs... it makes people so happy. And for a fraction of a second, I get to see that I made a difference in someone's day. Is that selfish? It's probably okay to be happy from making other people happy, even if it is selfish. I can't really make a difference to the whole world, but I can bake you sweets - and arm you with the recipes to make sweets for others. Trust me, you'll make a difference in their days.
I got to take warm lil' apple cakes to some people last week. Threw them in my CakeBox (the absolute best kitchen/baking purchase I've made in AGES) and, although I was already loving that box more than anything ever, I learned that hot things don't get soggy in it! Because, duh, wood is porous. Also, there is a killer streusel on these cakes. Reminder: streusel is the crumbly stuff, strudel is a pastry with lots of layers of dough and a fruit filling.
Without any more of my blabbing on and on, the details you actually want.
1 1/2 c chopped apples
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c butter
1 c white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Preheat your oven to 375F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.
Peel and core your apples (I used Granny Smith), cut into eight wedges and then into thin slices. Add the cinnamon and let them sit while you do the rest.
Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs and mix until smooth. Add in all dry ingredients and mix to combine. Fold in apples! Portion the batter into the 12 muffin tins. Make oat streusel recipe (below) and pile it on top! Bake until an inserted toothpick comes out clean and your house smells like heaven itself.
1/2 c butter
1 c brown sugar
1 c oats
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c flour (more if the mixture is too wet
2 tsp cinnamon
Cut the butter into tiny chunks and add in the rest of the ingredients. You can mix this with your fingers, a spoon, or in the bowl of a mixer. It should all come together, but not be super gloopy or incredibly dry. Add a bit of flour or more butter if needed either way. This is a great all-purpose streusel recipe for cakes, pies, coffee cakes, ANYTHING!