A Lesson in Baking A New Recipe

Apples 3Apples are versatile and make for good cold weather desserts. They are relatively inexpensive and always available, plus they are very good nutrition. Needing inspiration for an apple dessert, I checked through my cookbook collection looking for a different way to make one. Because I try to avoid pie crust, I’m not a pie baker. Apple crisp, though very tasty, gets boring. I found that the recipes in my cookbooks for Apple Pan Dowdy and similar concoctions called for too much starch for a healthy diet.

After perusing many recipes, I decided to create one of my own. Toward that end I was careful to note down my ingredients and their measurements in case I wanted to repeat my effort. Sourcing many of recipes I had perused, I tried dried bread crumbs. This proved to be a mistake. They absorbed too much of the liquid and made for a rather stiff end result. Still, the pudding tasted good enough so that I wanted to make it again, but a little differently. Rather than using dried bread crumbs, I decided to try fresh ones. I pinched small pieces off the bread, including the crust.

The pudding tasted wonderful. Unfortunately, my original dish size was incorrect for the change in the recipe. The resultant mess on the oven floor was horrendous. Another lesson learned. The recipe was so good I made it again with different fruit. This one worked well however it stuck to the baking dish. More lessons. The solution to that was to set the container in a pan of hot water for the duration of its baking time. This produced a moister result. All in all the recipe through trial and error has improved to a point where I want to share it.

 

Preheat oven to 350, use a 2 quart buttered covered casserole

Ingredients:

4 cups THINLY sliced peeled apples*

4 or 5 slices of bread

½ cup raisins or chopped dates

¾ cup rough chopped or broken pieces of walnuts (Optional)

½ cup flour

¾ cups brown sugar

1&1/2 cups cider

¼ cup butter plus some for buttering casserole

1 tsp Cinnamon, ½ tsp nutmeg, ¼ tsp clove

¼ tsp salt

 

Method: Heat cider, butter and spices on stove until butter melts. Stir to blend. Butter well a 2 quart casserole. Pinch off small pieces of bread. Cover bottom of casserole. Make a layer of apples, sprinkle on ¼ cups brown sugar, 2 Tbs flour, ¼ cup raisins and ¼ cup (optional) walnuts. Repeat bread, apples, sugar, flour, rest of raisins ¼ cup (optional) walnuts. End with a layer of bread, apples, (optional) walnuts, sugar and flour. Pour cider mixture over all. Bake covered at 350 for 1 hour. Uncover casserole and bake 10 more minutes to brown. Serve or save for later or next day. It tastes lovely with cream or ice cream or plain.  Alternative ingredients: 1 to 2 cups frozen cherries, cut in quarters and 1 to 2 cups frozen blueberries, omit raisings, substitute pecans for walnuts. With berries, you might use a shallow pan filled with water beneath the casserole for a moister pudding that doesn’t stick.

 

Up to my Neck in Lemons, my latest book has more recipes, poetry, and insights into turning Life’s Lemons, into Lemonade To have your own autographed copy,  please send $15. To Tasha Halpert at P.O.Box 171, North Grafon, MA 01536,  or purchase your copy on Amazon.

Apples by Tasha Halpert

Apples 2

Apples

When we moved to Grafton in 1989, one of the first joys I discovered was the wonderful apple orchard on Creeper Hill. The owners grew many of the old fashioned apple varieties and I went there each fall to purchase the different kinds they sold. Sometimes they would talk to me about their varieties and I enjoyed learning from them. In the spring I looked forward to seeing the orchard of pink apple blossoms that filled the air with their scent.

Then one year I went to see them, only to discover that the trees had been cut down. Houses were being built where the trees had been. I cried. Part of me grieved the loss of the precious old trees. Another part remembered the orchard I had played in as a child. My great grandfather delighted in planting different varieties of fruit trees. As well as apple, there were several varieties of pear trees. There were also quince trees with hard fuzzy green fruit. They could not be eaten raw but were delicious stewed or made into jelly.

Every year I look forward to the fresh apples of the fall. I love making applesauce, apple crisp, and what I call Sauce of Apples. This is not applesauce. For one thing I peel the apples, cooking them only long enough to be cooked through but still more or less keep their shape. For another I add vanilla for flavor and enough raisins to make them nice and sweet. They can be served over cake, pudding, ice cream or simply as a low calorie dessert.

My old Fanny Farmer Cooking School Cookbook–10th edition 1959 has apple desserts that most may not have ever heard of, let alone eaten. it is rare for these recipes to be found in modern cookbooks: Apple Brown Betty, Apple Gingerbread Upside Down Cake, Apple Cobbler, Apple crisp, Apple Kuchen, Apple Pan Dowdy, and Apple Indian Pudding. There are also several recipes for apple pie, one with cranberries and raisins. I just found a tasty looking bread pudding made with applesauce I want to try.

The apple crisp I made tonight is sitting on the stove for tomorrow’s enjoyment. I think it tastes even better the next day. A food processor simplifies the topping. I peel and slice enough apples to fill an eight inch square pan, pour a little maple syrup over them, sprinkle with cinnamon and stir well. Then I cut up a stick of butter and put it in my food processor with a half cup brown sugar and a half cup flour. Whirl until they are nicely mingled, then add a half cup of old fashioned rolled oats. Whirl briefly to combine then distribute the mixture over the apples and bake for an hour in a 350 degree oven. Yummy!

Hereabouts there are multiple farm stands throughout the area that sell a wide variety of apples. There are also opportunities to pick your own. My great grandfather planted his small orchard with many varieties of apples. I played there often, picking up fallen apples from Late August until November. The trees he planted bore fruit all throughout the fall. It was most likely there that my love affair with apples began.