It’s a bit past apple season (usually fall/autumn), but 16-29: Heavenly Apple Cake uses applesauce instead of fresh fruit, so you can make it anytime you’ve got a hankering for apples. Or cake. Cake is always good.
They (Simply Delicious) are trying REALLY hard to make you believe there are actual apple pieces in this cake. I mean, the picture and the description would lead you to think that this thing is just chock full of fresh apples.
I hate to break it to you, but this is gonna be one heck of a bamboozle.
I often wonder when I “evaluate” these recipes if I’m biased in my ratings/attitude towards them because of my own personal feelings about their contents. If I don’t personally like pears, does that unfairly impact my review of 15-41: Pear Halves with Chocolate Topping? Probably. Just a thought.
I’m not a huge pear fan, so if you haven’t figured it out by now, pear halves with weird chocolate bread topping wasn’t my jam. But if months of quarantine have you curious about weird desserts from the 80s, read on.
Here’s a very basic dessert recipe: 14-21: Pear Pandowdy. Pandowdies are typically made with apples, but Simply Delicious offers a pear variation which is also popular. Both are in season right now, so either one would work for this recipe if you’re looking for something to do with all of that fall produce.
An old-fashioned favorite, the pandowdy is, by definition, a cooked fruit dessert sweetened with maple syrup or molasses and topped with a pie pastry. The name refers to the act of “dowdying” the crust — that is, breaking it up with a knife and pressing it into the bubbling juices — midway through baking. While it’s not the prettiest of pastries, what it lacks in streamlined good looks it more than makes up for in rich flavor.
Yankee Magazine, August 2020
Let’s see how close Simply Delicious gets to their definition. They sell this thing much better than I do.
A LOT of the dessert recipes in Simply Delicious feature almonds, and 14-23: Almond-Baked Sliced Pears is a perfect example of these type of “semi-fancy” recipes. I’m not sure why almonds are featured so heavily in the book (or 1980s cuisine in general), but I suppose it’s to lend a sense of haute cuisine to something that would be (in reality) executed in a home kitchen.
The 1980s were all about stylish and flashy veneers without much to back it up underneath, even when it came to food, and this recipe is a perfect encapsulation of it. The fancy top covers up the cheap canned pears underneath, dazzling you with a hint of something high-class to distract you from the less impressive core which makes up the bulk of the dessert. Maybe some things should have just stayed in the 80s.
I bet you thought I abandoned this project. You’d be wrong–I just started a few others and let this one get a bit dusty. After almost 5 years, I’m still plugging along, and will be until I finish this damn thing. I don’t even know when I cooked this, but here’s 16-17: Meringue-Topped Cherry Pie.
I know I cooked it sometime in 2018, and I know that I wanted to attempt a vegan version (which didn’t go well). I think I was making it to bring to work, but I have a feeling it never made it there. Looking over the pictures of it, I think I know why.
A few months ago, we celebrated Pi Day in my office. Most of the pies were store-bought, but I decided to flip through Simply Delicious and see if there was anything worth contributing. I decided on 16-11: Meringue-Topped Chocolate Pie–everyone likes chocolate, and we had had a mishap with the lemon meringue pie on the way back from the store while preparing the day before.
If you’re not familiar with Pi Day, it takes place on March 14th, which when written as a numeric date is 3-14 (at least in the U.S. it is–some countries reverse the order). Pi (the mathematical constant represented by the Greek letter π) is usually rounded up to 3.14, so March 14th is celebrated with actual pies (and a bit of math) as a play-on-words. 😂
No one really needs an excuse to eat pie, but “It’s a math joke” is certainly an acceptable one.
Looking for an easy weeknight dinner? 11-19: Oven-Baked Red Snapper will remind you of the all-too-familiar crunchy oven-baked chicken, but with a lighter fishy twist. If you find yourself with some fish filets (red snapper not required), give this one a try.
Another way to look at this: a more elegant presentation of fish sticks. 🐟
Here’s one of the last few recipes left from the chapter on baked goods, Group 17: Baked Goods. I made 17-14: Nutty Muffins for work–I thought they’d make a nice accompaniment to everyone’s morning coffee. ☕️
See? Even Simply Delicious shows them being served with coffee. Wikipedia offers a deeper dive on the history of muffins if you’re interested/bored. There’s a difference between these types of muffins (referred to as “quickbread” muffins or “American” muffins due to the fact that they’re very similar to a cupcake or other types of sweet, dense, cake-like bread) and the traditional “English” muffins that you get with Eggs Benedict or an Egg McMuffin.
I had mentioned in 16-24: French Chocolate Cake that it was one of two desserts that I made for a recent baby shower I attended: 16-39: Apricot Tart was the second dessert. I’ve been meaning to make this thing since near the start of this project, and it only took me a few years to finally get around to it. There’s something about this recipe and procrastination, though–this entry’s been sitting in my writing queue half-finished for over a month.
For the length of time that it took me to make it (and to write about it), I never even got to try it–I ended up leaving this and 16-24: French Chocolate Cake still wrapped up on the table at the party. We’ll just assume that both of them were delicious and everyone ate every last crumb of them.
Cooking a pizza on a pancake dough creates a very kooky, weird pizza experience. 5-31: Oven Pizza Pancake is not your usual pizza–this soft-crusted abomination is another dish created when the Simply Delicious editors decided to have one too many beers at the office.
The beer in the background of this image should have been my first clue that this was a strange dish.
Editor’s note: I used this recipe for when I taught cooking in an after-school program for K-8 kids a few years ago–I didn’t have the time or resources to make a traditional rising dough using yeast on that particular site, so this method provided me a somewhat valid shortcut.