116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
August has barely begun, and already I’ve spotted candy corn and pumpkins at my neighborhood grocery store.
Even though fall is my favorite season, I tend to agree with others who say, “It’s still summer, stop the madness!”
But this weekend I visited my mom and, as soon as I opened the front door, I was met with the tantalizing scents of fall.
She was making Brazilian “Bolo de Bruxa,” translating to “witch’s cake,” a deliciously sweet, cinnamon apple cake that is filled with raisins and nuts.
Baked in a Bundt cake mold (Brazilians love their round cakes) this cake could easily be more of a bread if baked in a loaf pan. It reminds me of banana or zucchini bread, which are really just cakes you can feel OK about eating for breakfast.
My mom always puts a healthy twist into her recipes, her bolo de bruxa is made with coconut oil and gluten free flour. When I made my own, I kept the oil choice but decided to use all-purpose flour instead. Both versions work just as well.
I write a lot about my grandmothers, but I don’t often write about the incredible woman that I am lucky enough to call “mom,” or “mae” in Portuguese.
When I visited her this weekend, besides eating her delicious treats, I also revisited some of my old school projects and assignments, which she carefully packed away in a plastic box that now lives in what used to be my bedroom.
Throughout my time at school, whenever I was prompted to write about someone who inspires me, my “unsung hero,” or who I wanted to be like when I grew up, I always wrote about my mom. At only 24 years old, she became a single mom when my father died in a car accident. I was 1 month old.
Growing up, and even now, she has always been my biggest supporter and my very best friend. Every choice she made, from the school I attended to the country we later immigrated to, she made for my future.
During this visit we talked a lot about the give and take of immigration. Her and I both long for our family in Brazil, but we know we are where we are meant to be.
I don’t know how I’ll ever repay her for everything she’s done for me but, at least for now, seeing her become a grandmother to my daughter has brought joy to us both.
I realize I am sharing a recipe called witch’s cake, but because it comes from my mom, it should really be called “bolo de rainha.” Queen’s cake.
Follow Alexandra on Instagram, @FeedMeIowa, for more recipes and restaurant recommendations.
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 medium apples, shredded with the skin
1 cup of walnuts or pecans
1 cup raisins
2 cups all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour (Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose baking flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Combine eggs, oil, both sugars, salt and cinnamon in a mixing bowl. This may look a little dry at first but do not add any water, the apples will provide moisture.
Add in shredded apples and mix well.
Next, gradually add in nuts, raisins, flour, baking powder and baking soda. Mix well.
Pour batter into a well-oiled Bundt pan.
Bake for 45 minutes then allow to fully cool before unmolding and serving. Best paired with a strong cup of coffee.
Source: Adapted by Alexandra Olsen