CASA GRANDE -- While apple pie is a traditional Thanksgiving dessert that winds up on many holiday tables, apple cake is a yummy alternative.

To celebrate Thanksgiving and the start of the holiday season, area resident and PinalCentral reader “Chef Todd” has shared some of his favorite dessert recipes with the Casa Grande Dispatch Food page.

Chef Todd, a Casa Grande resident, is known for his efforts every Thanksgiving as one of dozens of volunteers who help Seeds of Hope prepare a holiday dinner for more than 300 people, including the elderly, poor and homeless.

This year, the holiday meal will be served takeout style on Thanksgiving day.

“For me, it’s a pleasure to volunteer and be a part of preparing the meal,” said Chef Todd, who doesn’t like to use his last name.

In previous years, Chef Todd, whose culinary career stretches back 30 years, has shared with PinalCentral his recipes for turkey and side dishes.

This year, he said he wanted to share his favorite dessert recipes, including apple cake, which is prepared as an upside-down cake.

Chef Todd said he found the recipe in an antique cookbook and updated it to reflect modern cooking methods.

“The original recipe requires you to ‘start the wood fire’ in your oven,” he said.

Simple or Not Kitchen reviewed the recipe and made the cake following Chef Todd’s directions. With 5 cups of sliced apples, the cake is fruity enough to satisfy an apple pie craving yet fluffy enough to call it a cake. It’s also easy to make and is a nice alternative to traditional apple pie.

Chef Todd’s apple cake and a few of his other recipes are listed below.

Chef Todd’s apple cake

5 Granny Smith apples, sliced

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 cup all purpose flour*

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon confectioners sugar

Spray an 8-by-8-inch cake pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Arrange the apple slices over the bottom of the pan and sprinkle with cinnamon.

In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs, flour and mix well. Batter will be thick.

Spread batter over apples. Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 45 minutes until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool on a baking rack, then when cool enough to touch, place serving plate upside down onto pan, then holding the plate and pan together, turn plate and pan over so the cake slides out of the pan onto the plate with the apples on top. Sprinkle with confectioners sugar.

*Because the recipe does not call for baking powder or baking soda, I used self-rising flour when making this cake for Simple or Not Kitchen.

Bread pudding

3 cups toasted bread, cubed

2 cups half-and-half scalded with ¼ cup of unsalted butter

½ cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs, beaten

¼ teaspoon sea salt

1 dash vanilla

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ cup seedless raisins

Place cubed bread in a 1½-quart buttered baking dish. Mix together all remaining ingredients and pour over bread crumbs. Place baking dish in a pan with about an inch of hot water. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes.

This delicious upside-down apple cake is perfect for the holidays or anytime of the year.

All-fruit mincemeat pie

For the filling

3/4 cup dried apples, diced

1 cup dried cherries, diced

¾ cup dried apricots

¾ cup dried peaches

¾ cup dry currants or cranberries

1 orange, peeled and chopped with seeds removed

1 Granny Smith apple, chopped

¼ cup candied dried ginger, diced

1 pinch cayenne pepper

½ teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon allspice

½ teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon ground salt

1 cup port wine

1 cup brandy

1 cup sugar

½ cup water

¼ cup unsalted butter

For the pie

1 double-crusted pie dough

3 tablespoons butter, melted

Combine the filling ingredients in a large sauce pan. Cook over low heat for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and blend until fruit pieces are about the size of peas. Cover and refrigerate for about five to seven days.

To make the pie, roll dough and place in a 9-inch pie pan. Fill with fruit filling and pour melted butter over filling. Add top crust. Cut a few slits into the top crust to allow venting.

Place pie on a cookie sheet and bake on middle rack of 450-degree oven for about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees. Brush additional melted butter over crust and bake for about 45 to 55 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the juices are bubbling through the crust.


Melissa St. Aude is the Arts & Entertainment editor at PinalCentral. She can be reached at