Why the New 50 Should Stay the Old 50

Taking pop culture's wish to reframe chronological passages as inspiration, this cook reinvents a cherished cake recipe for a slimmer version.

by Karin Duncker • More.com Member { View Profile }

I’ve noticed over the past decade or so that whenever I neared a chronological milestone, that decade becomes the “new” something: “40” was the new “30,” and now “50” is the new “40.” I noticed something else too. These “new ages” have strangely tracked whatever age Oprah was. I think Oprah controls time. I wouldn’t put it past her. She’s one powerful woman. Like the Wizardess of Oz, she is behind a curtain with a mass of levers and buttons, lights flashing and making that ‘ping’ noise, and when she nears a chrono-crossroads she pulls the big red lever and SHAZAM! That age is the age to be! Hey, it could happen. Or not. Why do we have to have a “new 50”? Is 50 so terrible? Considering the alternatives, I’d say it’s pretty swell all by itself. Judging by those I know and love who’ve already “crossed over,” it looks like a pretty good age to be. Granted, things don’t work the way they did, nor can you do all the things you used to do, but the up side is you don’t have the energy to do them anyway. And that’s O.K. Who said we have to keep four balls in the air while spinning two plates on our nose and tap dancing — all at the same time? The world doesn’t end if you drop a plate, juggle only two balls, and maybe just sway a bit to the beat, you know?

I think that just may be the key too. Actually accepting that things have changed, and maybe even embracing it too. Sometimes I find that’s hard, other times shockingly easy. Take wrinkles for example. Now I’ve seen my share of lifted, tucked, and ‘toxed faces, and that’s fine if you have the funds, inclination, and actually want someone to inject a neurotoxin into your forehead. Me? No thanks. Know what else? I actually like my wrinkles. They show I’ve had a lot of laughs, squinted in the bright sunshine, and well, lived! And if I truly practice what I preach, then my “deckel” will like them too. Then there’s the sagging. Face it: Gravity just sucks. I still wear the same cup size but the girls have gotten longer, and my ass now resides someplace mid-thigh. Know what? When all is said and done, most guys really don’t care. As a very wise woman told me, “Sweetie, a man in the mood is not going to see any of that when you are the naked woman in the room with him.” She has a point, (and so does he). So, as the next milestone approaches, I’m thinking I’ll be fine with 50 being the new 50. Just do me a favor —remind me of that next August, O.K.?

The recipe for this post is based on a family classic from my cousin’s grandmother Emily. The original recipe is wonderful on its own, but I thought I’d try lightening it up a little bit  - sort of like a little culinary botox (without the neurotoxic bacteria that is). The result is the New Emily’s Applesauce Cake.

This cake is wonderful as a dessert with a little whipped cream on the side, for breakfast (it is “just fruit” as Oma would say), but I think my favorite time is in the afternoon with great cup of tea.

The NEW Emily’s Applesauce Cake

You can make this in one large pan (9”x13”) or do what I do, and make it in two 8”x8” square pans. It freezes beautifully, so if you are making it in two pans, you can eat one cake and freeze the other for another time.

Makes 18 squares

2 cups flour

1 ¾ cups brown sugar

½ cup oil

1½ cups soused applesauce  (or any kind you like) 

1 apple, peeled and cut into ½” pieces

3 eggs

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

½ tbsp lemon zest

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp cinnamon

¾ cup walnuts, chopped

¾ cup dried cranberries or dried orange cranberries (you could also use golden raisins if you prefer)

Confectioners sugar for sprinkling on top

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a 9 x 13 baking pan, or two 8x8 square pans with non-stick spray.

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