“At rural kitchen tables, apple pies and tarts were served as routinely as bread. For families on hardscrabble farms in the Northeast, suppers through the winter might consist of nothing but apple pie and milk, day after day. For those with means, the better city restaurants served dessert apples in little individual boxes, stem and two leaves attached, with a card noting variety and grower…Apples were so much a part of the public consciousness that people came to be described in pomological terms: crabs, bad apples, apple polishers, apples of one’s eye.” –Roger Yepsen, Apples
One of the best things about Autumn, aside from the brilliant colors of falling leaves, is apples. And with each new autumn, there seems to be a new variety of apple that I spot in the grocery store confirming that there is, in fact, an Apple Renaissance that has been taking place in the recent years.
This year I read about “Pink Pearl”, an apple that is, according to Roger Yepsun in his book Apples, “descended from Surprise, an old English variety named for the pink flesh that hides beneath its ordinary yellow exterior.”
Frances McDormand, in a recent article in the New York Times Magazine, mentioned carrying the Pink Pearl and some cheese with her on a hike up a mountain, one of my favorite things to do with an apple – pairing it with some good Vermont cheddar for a snack after an autumn hike.
From a culinary perspective, the use of apples in cooking and baking is endless – there’s apple cider and brandy, apple fritters and brownies, applesauce meatloaf and chicken in apple cider; and then the apple pies, cobblers, and crisps – the one dessert that is a must for a chilly autumn day after an invigorating hike or a day spent raking leaves.
Below are two recipes for apple crisp and one for apple cobbler. Enjoy!
ATG’s Apple Crisp
1 cup quick cooking oatmeal
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 stick cold butter
3 large apples or 5 medium apples (we used Honey Crisp)
Butter an 8×8 inch glass baking dish. Peel and thickly slice apples and then uniformly cut into bite sized pieces and place in baking dish. Mix together the oatmeal, flour, sugar and cinnamon until thoroughly combined. Using a fork cut the cold stick of butter into the dry mixture. Using your hands continue massaging the butter into the mixture until it becomes evenly distributed into a crumble-like topping. Spread/sprinkle the mixture on top of apples. Place in 350 degree oven and bake for 20-30 minutes or until lightly brown on top and beginning to bubble.
Apple Cherry Paradise* (taken from Apples by Roger Yepsun)
*Apply Cherry Paradise is an old-fashioned name for Apple Crisp
6 to 8 apples
1 cup semi-tart pie cherries
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. ground ginger
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1/2 tsp. salt
For the topping:
1 cup unbleached white flour
1/3 cup coarse cornmeal
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Peel and slice the apples. Put the slices in a mixing bowl and add the pie cherries, brown sugar, ground ginger, lemon juice, almond extract, and salt. Combine thoroughly with a potato masher or your hands, crushing the cherries so that they color the apples. Spread the mixture in a baking dish.
In another bowl, assemble the ingredients for the topping. Mix well with a fork, pressing to break up any lumps. Spread evenly over the fruit. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and continue baking for another 20 minutes.
McIntosh Apple Cobbler (taken from The Nordstrom Family Cookbook)
6 McIntosh apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick wedges
1& 1/2 cups sugar
3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. fine sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 large eggs, beaten
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom and sides of a 13 by 9 inch baking dish.
To make the Apple Filling, combine the apples, sugar, flour, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Spread evenly in the prepared baking dish.
To make the Cobbler Topping, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add the butter and eggs. Using a spatula, mix and mash the ingredients together to make a smooth, thick batter. With the spatula, spread the topping in an even layer over the apples and up to the edges of the dish.
Put the baking dish on a baking sheet. Bake, rotating the dish after 25 minutes, until the apples are tender and the topping is golden brown, 50 to 55 minutes. Let stand for 30 minutes before serving.