Butter, Basil and Breadcrumbs

Friday, September 11, 2015

In a western New York farming community within minutes of Niagara Falls, Prudy Blank tends her garden and gathers the last of the summer's produce from its fertile soil. Prudy, an executive secretary by day and author of her blog, butter, basil and breadcrumbs by night, is an avid cook and photographer who grew up in a family that "gathered together, celebrated, and even mourned with food."

"Food is a necessity in life, not only to feed the body but to feed the soul," asserts this brunette beauty whose captivating photography showcases the array of mouth-watering culinary creations that cross her counter.  To her, cooking is "about fellowship, and the memories made and the comfort and love of sharing a meal together during happy times and during sad ones" that makes it all a therapeutic process, and doesn't feel like work at all.

A family girl to the core, Prudy's favorite times are when her three kids are at home and they all hang out in the kitchen together, talking, laughing and even arguing at times. She knows those memories will keep them close as her children start families of their own and, hopefully, carry on the tradition of home-cooked meals around the table. And when the kids are gone, her faithful Labrador, Sophie, never leaves her side as she chops, slices, preps, simmers, bakes and daydreams her way around the kitchen where so much beauty evolves from her skillful touch.

Prudy in her garden where she is truly at home.

Summer's bounty.

Oatmeal caramelitas for the win.

Strawberry Lemonade Cocktail - old-timey and delicious!

The perfect French picnic.

Watermelon Grapefruit granita - a fancy, summery addition to any dinner party.

And for breakfast, blistered tomatoes on grilled toast with ricotta. 

A Black Cherry Clafloutis with a dusting of sugar is delightful any night of the week.

"Who knew peach cobbler could be so sexy?  Okay, I did."

Aren't these the most beautiful little hand pies you've ever seen?  Grab one and run!

Skillet brownies to rock your world.

A Salty Dog never looked this good.

Cajun gnocchi with summer vegetables.

The cozy kitchen of the cabin in the woods where Prudy spends most weekends.

Cake, anyone?

To follow the adventures of Prudy's cooking and baking, winning and failing (yes, there are fails, but "we learn from our burnt cookies and carry on"), visit her website at Butter, Basil and Breadcrumbs or follow her on Instagram @butter_basil_and_breadcrumbs.  All photos courtesy of Prudy Blank and used with permission.


Pecan Caramel Apple Cake

Pecan Caramel Apple Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Generously grease and flour three 8” round cake pans. 

3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
6 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla
5 apples, coarsely grated (About 5 cups)
1 cup raisins

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.  Set aside until ready to use. 

In a large mixing bowl, and using the paddle attachment, combine the vegetable oil, granulated sugar, and dark brown sugar, and beat on high until fully combined. It won’t be smooth or creamy at this point.  

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until fully incorporated after each addition. After all eggs have been added, add the vanilla, and continue to beat until light and fluffy, about three minutes. 

Add the flour mixture, about 1 cup at a time just until incorporated.  Do not over mix. 

Fold in the apples and raisins. 

Measure 2 1/2 cups cake batter into each greased and floured 8” round cake pan.  

Bake for 30 - 35 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. 

Remove from oven, and cool for 10 minutes in cake pan.  After 10 minutes, carefully remove cakes from cake pans, and place right side up onto cooling racks.  Let cool completely. 

Generously frost with cream cheese frosting between the layers and top, and lightly frost the sides to achieve a “naked cake” look.  Top with caramel pecan sauce. 

Cream Cheese Frosting 

2 - 8oz packages cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla 
8 cups powdered sugar
In a large mixing bowl, and using the whisk attachment, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until smooth and creamy.  Beating on low speed, add the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time until all of the powdered sugar has been fully incorporated.  Increase the speed to high, and beat for three to five minutes until the frosting is smooth and creamy.  

Caramel Pecan Sauce 

1/4 cup butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp heavy cream 
1 cup shelled pecan halves 

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the brown sugar to the melted butter, and stir until the sugar has dissolved.  Remove from heat, and stir in the butter and heavy cream.  Add the pecan halves, and stir until just incorporated.   Let cool for five minutes before pouring over cake.


  1. Naomi, you make me want to cook, eat and photograph everything foodie in sight! :-) Another lovely post and that cake...wow! It's one of my closest girlfriend's birthdays in a couple of weeks, I think I'm going to give this a try. Plus your Mama's pumpkin bread, that's going on my 'must bake' list too! One of my dreams for the future is to have my own food blog, recording and photographing all of our family recipes (my husband's mother is Italian, there are a LOT!) and more, hopefully when we're living in a little house in rural Spain or somewhere similar. But for now, reading your gorgeous blog is just as satisfactory! Esther xx