Driving through my neighborhood, I can't help but see apple season appears to be coming on strong. In at least every other yard there is an apple tree, sometimes two or three, with branches bent under the burden of an ample crop.
So, it seems apple recipes should be the order of the day.
Naturally, the first thing that comes to mind when dealing with an abundant bunch of apples is a pie.
7 cups peeled and sliced apples
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon fine, quick-cooking tapioca
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
2 tablespoons apple juice or cider
1/4 cup firmly-packed light brown sugar
Pastry for a double crust pie (recipe to follow)
Place apples in a large heavy skillet; combine sugar with tapioca and cinnamon and sprinkle over apples, tossing to mix. Add butter and cider, cover and cook over low heat about 5 minutes or just until apples are limp and have reduced slightly in volume. Raise heat and let mixture bubble gently until juices have cooked down to a nice thick syrup, about 5 to 10 minutes more. Cool 15 minutes.
Fit pastry for bottom crust into a 9-inch pie pan, sprinkle brown sugar over it, spoon in apple filling, mounding it up, then fit top crust into place. Trim pastry overhang so that it is 1 inch larger than the pie pan all around. Roll top and bottom crust overhangs together up onto the rim of the pie pan, then crimp, making a high decorative edge. With a sharp knife, cut decorative steam vents in top crust.
Bake in hot oven, 400 degrees, for 20 to 25 minutes or until pastry is nicely browned and filling bubbly. Remove pie from oven and let cool about 20 minutes before cutting.
2-1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Place flour, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir to mix. Cut shortening, using pastry blender, until mixture is crumbly and the texture of coarse meal.
Combine egg yolk and milk, beating lightly with a fork, then drizzle over flour-shortening mixture, mixing briskly with a fork. Drizzle in lemon juice, forking up lightly.
Divide pastry in half and roll one half on a lightly floured pastry cloth. Cover rolling pin with stocking and flour lightly to roll pastry due to the amount of shortening in the mix, it must be handled gently. Roll pastry into a circle 3 inches larger than the pie pan you intend to use. Lay rolling pin across center of pastry circle and lift half of pastry over rolling pin to ease into pie pan. Fit pastry snugly into pie pan, and proceed according to Apple Pie recipe above.
Baked apples are an easy treat that has many variations.
Use as many sound apples as needed, core and fill with from 1 to 3 teaspoons of sugar. Place apples in baking dish and add water to cover bottom of dish. Bake at 350 to 375 degrees until tender.
Alternative fillings for the sugar can be brown sugar and raisins, sections of bananas, red cinnamon candies, marshmallow, marmalade or jelly, honey or corn syrup and lemon juice, nuts, candied orange peel, candied pineapple, preserved ginger, canned or fresh berries, peaches or other fruits or left-over fruit juice.
Meringues, custard sauce, whipped cream or marshmallow sauce may be used as a garnish.
Another surprisingly simple way to use apples is to make your own applesauce.
Wash, pare, quarter and core juicy apples, sour are best.
Place in a kettle with enough water to keep them from burning and boil until tender.
Add sugar to taste and boil a few minutes longer.
A few whole cloves or a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg or a little lemon juice or a few seedless raisins may be cooked with the apples. Brown or maple sugar may be used instead of white.
Serve hot or cold, or use in an applesauce cake.
3-1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 cups seedless raisins
2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans, or a mixture of the two
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 cups thick, sweetened applesauce
Measure out 1/4 cup of flour, sprinkle over the raisins and nuts and toss well to dredge; set aside. Sift the remaining 3-1/4 cups of flour with the soda, salt, cinnamon and cloves and set aside.
Cream the butter until very light and fluffy, then gradually add the sugar, creaming all the while. Beat in the eggs one at a time.
Add the sifted dry ingredients alternately with the applesauce, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and beating after each addition, just enough to mix. Fold in the dredged raisins and nuts.
Spoon batter into a well-greased and floured
9-inch tube pan and bake in moderate oven, 350 degrees, for about an hour and 20 minutes or until cake pulls from the sides of the pan and is springy to the touch. Cool cake upright in its pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes, then loosen around the edges with a spatula and turn out on rack and cool thoroughly before cutting.
The cake is moist and dark and very rich.
Probably my favorite apple dish is apple butter. I once made it using applesauce and apple juice. It took most of the day, but it filled the house with the best smells. This is a more traditional recipe.
4 quarts sweet cider
2-1/2 quarts quartered tart apples
2 cups sugar
Spices if desired: cinnamon, cloves, ginger
Boil cider until it is reduced to two quarts. Add peeled, quartered apples and cook until very tender. Put through a colander, add sugar and spices and cook until thick, stirring to prevent burning. Pour into clean hot jars and seal. Makes 3 pints.