Apple Cake

Louise Hamilton never measured the ingredients in her apple cake until the day she had to. She memorized the recipe by watching her mother make it.

“I remember how she separated the wet ingredients from the dry ones,” Hamilton says. “Then she blended them separately and combined them in the end.”

Those are the basic steps of baking, the simple principles. Hamilton says her mother never believed in making food too complicated. She worked a shift at the old rayon-manufacturing plant near Asheville and therefore didn’t have a lot of time to dedicate to cooking.

“The hardest part of the recipe is probably grating the apples,” Hamilton says. “But even that’s not too much.”

She talks as if she considers simplicity a virtue. A woman like Louise Hamilton would. After all, she’s raised six children. And parenting requires generous amounts of sacrifice, which begets simplicity. Furthermore, she attends a church — St. Luke’s Episcopal in downtown Asheville — that only seats 65 people.

Built in 1894 at a cost of only $728, the church’s members call it “A country church in the city.”

When one Sunday the church announced it needed folks to round up their best recipes for a cookbook, Hamilton knew she had one to contribute. Surely a small, intimate congregation such as St. Luke’s would enjoy her easy-to-make apple cake, she thought. She just needed to write down the recipe first.

So the day came when she started testing the recipe with different amounts of flour, sugar, and cinnamon.

Hamilton believes she got the recipe just right, exactly how her mother made it. It appears below, and on page 145 of St. Luke’s cookbook, Let Us Keep the Feast II.

Flip through the cookbook’s pages and you’ll find Hamilton’s name beside other recipes. She’s been a member of the church for 56 years.

Hamilton doesn’t like to change too much. She keeps things simple, just the way her mother did.

Let Us Keep the Feast cookbookOrder a copy
To purchase Let Us Keep the Feast II, call St. Luke’s Episcopal Church at (828) 254-2133 or email

Jeffrey Turner is an assistant editor at Our State. For this cake, he recommends you visit North Carolina’s mountains to buy a fresh bushel of Granny Smith apples.

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