This is for and about home cooks - the women all over the the world (and through the centuries) who put dinner on the table every night. They know how to cook quickly, easily, economically, healthily and satisfyingly whether for one or a dozen.

Part memoir, part diary of shopping, cooking, reading and thinking about putting supper on the table, by a former fashion/design writer/consultant whose secret love has always been food.  


Moist, Luscious Apple/Pecan Coffee Cake

Original Hearth apple/pecan coffee cake

Original Hearth apple/pecan coffee cake

One of my many wonderful food discoveries in San Francisco is a spectacular (but best known to locals) bakery/cafe - Hearth

Now there are several mega famous San Francisco bakeries, all completely delicious, where the queues (especially on weekends) stretch down the street - but Hearth and its treats are still under the media radar and lucky we are that it is.  The scones are great, buttery mounds of goodness - ginger/apricot, cheddar/scallions; the croissants as crisp and flakey as the best in Paris - plain or  fragrantly centred with strawberry/cream or expresso/chocolate; while a savoury Danish is unexpectedly rolled with prosciutto & cheese. Yum. 

The star (for me) is the apple/pecan coffee cake which appears several times a week (if you are lucky). Moist, rich, thoroughly appley, with a pecan streusel topping, it is truely memorable.

Back in London, I decided I had to make it. Nothing quite like it turned up in my web search, and so I worked through my shelves of cookbooks, old & new.

Finally I found - in one of the great cookbooks of the early 80's, "The Silver Palate Cookbook" by Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins,  first published in 1979 (now in a 2007 25th anniversary edition) - what might have been an inspiration for Heath's creation. "Chunky Apple Walnut Cake" is almost it - with a few changes (as well as pecans in place of walnuts). 

My version was extremely good - though when I make it again (and I will) I will make a few further adjustments (see NOTE at end of recipe).

This is how I made it:


9 1/2": cake pan, preferably loose bottomed

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil

2 cups granulated sdugar

3 eggs (large)

2 cups unbleached, all purpose flour, sifted

1 1/4 teasp ground cinnamon

1 teasp baking soda

1/4 teasp salt

1 cup wholemeal flour, sifted

1 1/4 cups coarsely chopped pecans

2 average size eating apples thinly sliced

3 tablesp apple juice

Preheat oven to 325F

in large bowl, beat vegetable oil & sugar until thick & opaque

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each

Sift together flour & spices, baking soda & salt. Stir in wholemeal flour.

Add to oil/egg mixture and mix until well blended

Pour half of batter into well greased and lined 9 1/2" baking pan

Lay sliced apples in layers over batter

Add rest of batter

Top with chopped nuts, teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 cup sugar, stirred together. Press slightly into batter

Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour 15-20 minutes or until point of knife inserted into centre comes out clean. 

NOTE: my version was delicious, but not quite as moist as Hearth's, and so next time I plan to use 3 apples instead of 2. And perhaps a more traditional pecan streusel topping.

Wonder how I would do on the GBBO with it?????

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Eat, Venice