Barbie Butz is an independent columnist for The Atascadero News and Paso Robles Press; you can email her at barbiewb@hotmail.com.

As I write this today, we’re experiencing rain, finally, and I’m grateful because my plants were in need of “water from the sky.” Of course, I keep them watered with my hose, but there’s something so utterly refreshing when it comes from the heavens.

The rain is keeping me inside today, and it makes me want to sit by the fire and read, bake something in the oven, or create a pot of soup. I am choosing the latter, and as I thumb through my cookbooks and old fall magazines looking for a new soup recipe, I’m finding other recipes to share with you that I think you will like.

So, today I’m devoting my column to “rain and recipes.” Enjoy.

Slow-Cooker Apple Pudding Cake
Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup plus ¼ cup sugar, divided
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup cold butter
1 cup 2% milk
2 medium tart apples, peeled and chopped
1½ cups orange juice
½ cup honey
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/3 cups sour cream
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar

Getting through this together, Atascadero

Directions:
In a small bowl, combine flour, 2/3 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in milk just until moistened. Spread in the bottom of a greased 4-or-5 quart slow cooker; sprinkle apples over batter. In another bowl, combine orange juice, honey, melted butter, cinnamon, and remaining ¼ cup sugar; pour over apples. Cover and cook on high until apples are tender, 2-3 hours. In a small bowl, combine sour cream and confectioners’ sugar. Serve with warm pudding cake.

Apple Pear Cake
Ingredients:
2 cups shredded peeled tart apples
2 cups shredded peeled pears
2 cups sugar
1¼ cups canola oil
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped pecans
2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
1teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt

Cream Cheese Frosting
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
¼ cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons whole milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions for cake and frosting:
In a large bowl, combine the first eight ingredients. Combine the dry ingredients; stir into the fruit mixture. Pour into a greased 13×9-inch baking pan. Bake at 325 degrees until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool on a wire rack.

For frosting, in a large bowl, beat cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, and butter until smooth. Beat in milk and vanilla; frost the cake. Store in the refrigerator.

Note: This cake would make a wonderful addition to your holiday dessert menu. Decorate the cake with toasted pecans or create a holiday design on each serving by using extra frosting colored with food coloring or use red and green gumdrops! Have fun with it.

Cheers!