“Man has been munching on apples for about 750,000 years, ever since the food gatherers of early Paleolithic times discovered sour, wild crab apples growing in the forests in Kazakhstan Central Asia.” –Apple Cookbook (2001) by Olwen Woodier
‘Tis the season for apple pie baking! While bakers everywhere are busy rolling out the pie dough, Cornell University’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York has been busy rolling out 66 apple varieties for more than a century including Cortland, Empire, Jonagold, Jonamac, and Macoun.
In her book Apple Lover’s Cookbook, Amy Traverso writes about her visit with Susan Brown, one of the horticulture professors and apple breeders at the 50-acre lab in Geneva near Lake Seneca where they breed, develop and produce apples that are ever more appealing to the tastes of consumers, who tend to favor crisp, juicy and firm varieties.
Along with satisfying the taste buds of consumers, the horticulturalists also experiment with fortifying the health benefits (“an apple a day keeps the doctor away”) by breeding apples that have as much vitamin C as oranges and those that have high levels of quercetin, a natural antioxidant that may have a role in protecting the brain cells from Alzheimer’s disease.
Ms. Traverso explains that the display of apples she saw during her visit was “a beautiful still life of diversity” and was “evidence of how many different traits are coded in the apple’s approximately 56,000 genes, (the human genome has somewhere between 20,000 and 25,000 genes), the sequence of which was only recently decoded.”
Today, one doesn’t have to travel far to see the “beautiful still life of diversity” that Ms. Traverso recounts. It seems every fall one can find at least one new variety of apple with a “jazzy” name in the local market, crisply displayed with the abundance of varieties developed and grown across the globe – from Honey Crisp (developed by the University of Minnesota and released in 1991 to consumers) to Ginger Gold (Virginia), Snapdragon and Ruby Frost (both from Cornell), Cripps Pink (Pink Lady from Australia), and Jazz (developed in New Zealand).
As we approach the end of October, when time falls back and apples fall to the ground, ATG celebrates All Things Apples by “picking” a variety of apple recipes to share through the end of the month.
Spiced Apple Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting (taken from The Apple Lovers Cookbook by Amy Traverso)
Note: This recipe has a large yield, 24 cakes. However, you can cut the recipe in half fairly easily; most everything divides into two except for the eggs and the boiled cider. In that case, use 2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk and 3 & 1/2 tablespoons boiled cider. Also, for the baking powder, 1 & 1/2 teaspoons is equal to 1/2 tablespoon.
Ingredients for the cupcake:
2 sticks butter (16 tablespoons), room temperature
2 cups sugar
3 & 1/2 cups flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 & 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
5 large eggs, room temperature (if cutting recipe in half, use 2 eggs and 1 egg yolk)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup boiled cider (see notes below)
1 cup whole or 2% milk, room temperature
- Using a mixer combine the butter and sugar at medium-high speed until pale and very fluffy (7-10 min.).
- Add 1 egg at a time to fully whipped butter/sugar mixture making sure to use all 5 eggs. Add the vanilla.
- In medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and ginger in a medium bowl.
- In a small bowl stir the boiled cider into the milk.
- Add about a third of the flour mixture to the butter/sugar mixture with a little bit of the milk/cider and stir until just combined and then repeat the process two more times until both mixtures are thoroughly combined.
- Fill greased muffin tins two-thirds of the way and bake at 325-335 degree Foven for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Note: I did not have boiled cider so substituted with homemade applesauce making sure the consistency was thin and smooth. I cut up 2-3 Macintosh apples and cooked them in a saucepan with a little bit of a local apple cider to keep it on watery side. Or you can make your own boiled cider (see here) or order a pint from King Arthur Flour at this link.
Ingredients for the frosting:
2 packages cream cheese, room temp.
8 tbsp. (1 stick) butter, room temp.
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Combine cream cheese, butter, confectioners’ sugar, cinnamon and vanilla and mix until smooth and creamy. Note: for a lighter frosting which doesn’t have a heavy cream cheese/butter taste cut back on the cream cheese to maybe 1 & 1/2 packages and maybe 5-6 tablespoons of butter.
1 large squash
1 large onion
8 cup water
8 ounces unsalted butter
1 cup of cream
1 cup apple cider
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
- Combine the butternut squash, onion and water in a sauce pot.
- Place over medium high heat and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat and simmer until just tender.
- Drain the butternut squash and onions from the water.
- Place the butternut squash in to the blender.
- Then add the following the remaining ingredients and blend the mixture well.
Waldorf Salad (taken from Apple Cookbook by Olwen Woodier)
3 medium apples (any apple that is crisp and firm)
3 stalks of celery, diced
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup heavy or whipping cream
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. ground white pepper (we preferred a couple of sprinklings of black pepper)
4 mint leaves or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley – optional
1 head of Boston lettuce (we used Romaine)
- Chill a medium-sized bowl for beating the cream.
- Core and dice the apples. Place in large bowl.
- Add the celery and walnuts to the apples.
- Sprinkle lemon juice over apples and walnuts.
- Beat the cream until thick and stands in soft peaks, stir into apple mixture.
- Sprinkle mint or parsley on top (we substituted diced red grapes on top)
- Serve on lettuce leaves