The White House is serving all kinds of savory and sweet things during the twenty holiday receptions that President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will host this season. The baked delights, courtesy of Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses and his team, have ranged from apple and pumpkin pie to lemon cake to chocolate cake to cute shortbread cookies in all kinds of festive shapes, such as snowflakes and Christmas trees. (Top: The President looks on as Deputy Chief of Staff Mona Sutphen offers Senior Adviser David Axelrod a piece of cake)
First Dog Bo is also featured as a holiday cookie (at left); he's a big theme in the holiday decorations this year. Among other things, Bo is memorialized in marzipan on Yosses' stunning White House Gingerbread House, and there's a holiday icon of him, made with 40,000 hand-twisted pipe cleaners, which greets tour visitors in the Booksellers area.
Yosses' delicious Apple Cake with Maple Glaze is also being served at receptions, and the recipe for it is below. The cake is easy to do, and spans eons of food history; cinnamon has been in use for thousands of years, while maple syrup is harvested by hardworking tree farmers in America's chillier states. The treat is fairly low fat: There's no butter. The suggested apple selection is Granny Smith, but any tart apple will do. The addition of honey instead of white sugar is in keeping with Yosses' aesthetic of staying away from overly processed ingredients, as well as his longstanding affection for the White House Beehive; he used 30 pounds of Beehive honey in this year's Gingerbread House.
Ingredients for the Cake
White House Holiday Apple Cake with Maple Glaze
3/4 cup canola or safflower oil
1/2 cup light brown sugar (tightly packed)
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup peeled grated
1 cup peeled grated apples, like Granny Smith
1 large orange, optional
Ingredients for the Maple Glaze
1/4 cup amber maple syrup
1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10-inch cake pan and place a silicone sheet or parchment paper on the bottom. (You can substitute a 10-inch spring-form pan, as long as it is tightly sealed at the bottom.)
2. With a hand held or electric mixer, combine the oil, brown sugar, honey, eggs and vanilla in a large bowl.
3. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add half the sifted dry ingredients to the liquid mixture, and mix on a low speed until combined.
4. Add the grated apples and the remainder of the dry ingredients. Finish mixing by hand, and pour into the greased cake mold. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
5. Make the maple glaze: Stir maple syrup and confectioner’s sugar over low heat in a small saucepan until combined. Then increase the heat and boil for 30 seconds. Set aside on the stove top, off the heat.
6. To finish the cake, run a paring knife around the edge of the cake pan. Invert a serving dish on top of the cake and then flip the cake over onto the dish, carefully lifting away the cake pan. Re-warm the maple glaze, stir it and pour it over the warm cake. You may decorate the platter with peeled orange sections. The cake will stay moist overnight if covered with foil. It does not need to be refrigerated.
Makes one 10-inch cake. Time: About 1 hour
At this year's White House holiday receptions, guests are also being treated to turkey and roast beef carving stations, blinis minus the caviar, a lovely selection of cheeses and grilled vegetables with dips. Gulf seafood is a focus; 2,000 pounds of crab and shrimp were ordered for holidays parties, and there was also a nice selection of Kosher sushi at the Hanukkah reception. (Photo above is of a one-of-a-kind President Obama Nutcracker, from the ObFo archive)
Related holiday recipes: Yosses' recipe for Holiday Gingerbread Cookies is here. White House Apple Pie is here, Holiday Honey Cupcakes is here. Exec. Chef Cristeta Comerford's White House Holiday Gulf Shrimp Cocktail is here.
Top photo by Pete Souza/White House; others by EGK/Obama Foodorama