Sunday, November 15, 2009

Apple Butter

More apples. We are down to two ice chests full. One consists of the smaller and more tart apples from one tree and the other is STILL full of the Red Delicious. We can only stomach so many cakes. I made two more cakes today and froze one of them.
In a desperate attempt to use these apples before they go bad, I decided to make chunky apple butter. So simple and a great thing to do with fruit that is not perfect.

  • 4 or more pounds of apples
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 cups sugar
  • dash of salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • juice and zest of one lemon.

Peel, core and coarsley chop up the apples. Cut out the bad or brown spots first. The best way I've found to do this is to use a potato peeler to take off the skins. Then just set the apple bottom down on the cutting board and make a cut vertically down one side of the apple close to the core. Turn the apple, make another cut......repeat until you have left the core of the apple. It will look like a square or pentagon, depending on how big your apple is. Don't worry if there is some skin still left on the apple, because you are going to cook it into a mush and the skins contain pectin.

Put the apple chunks in a large stew pan with the 1 cup of cider vinegar. Stew over low heat until they are soft. Mash with a potato masher or put through the sieve of a food mill if you want a smoother apple butter.

Add the sugar, lemon, salt and spices. Simmer and stir frequently until it is very thick or until when you put a glop of apple butter on a saucer there is no liquid leaking out around the edges.

Spoon into sterilized half pint jars and put on the sterilized lids and screw bands. Put into a water bath and process at boiling for 10 minutes.

If you have never canned before, there are some good sites on the net that will give you a basic tutorial. I highly recommend getting the book "Putting Food By". It will walk you through the process. This has been my canning Bible for years and years.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Chunky Apple Cake

Its fall and the crops from the raised bed garden are long gone. We picked the last of the tomatoes and peppers a month ago. Yellow tomatoes, Romas, Beefsteak and sweet Italian.
Now, it is apple time. We picked the apples from our 5 trees. At least 50 pounds, mostly Red Delicious and Yellow Delicious, stored in open ice chests in the pump house for preservation over winter.

When we bought this property 8 years ago, most of the trees were already mature and needed pruning and now really have begun producing. Depending on what kind of spring: whether we get an early frost that kills the blossoms before they set or if we have a lingeringly warm spring where the bees and the blossoms make sweet harmony, we will have some apples or lots of apples. We had the latter spring this season.

Once again, we didn't spray the trees. It wasn't for any greenie organic reasons that did we not spray. As Steve Martin says...."I forgot". Ah well. Give me spots on my apples and leave me the birds and the bees. As a result we have 50 pounds of apples that taste great......look bad. What to do? What to do?

I know!!! Make Chunky Apple Cake. You're going to peel and chop the apples who is to know that you also cut off a few brown or icky spots. It isn't like you need neat perfect slices like you would for an open face tort. Chop

This is a wonderful, EASY, dense and flavorful cake. You just can't miss. Served warm with some whipped cream or dusted with powdered sugar and served at room temperature.

Chunky Apple Cake

  • 6 large apples
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 5 tbsp sugar
  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a tube pan. Peel and core and chop the apples into chunks a little less than one inch. Toss the apple with the 5 tbsp sugar and 2 tbsp cinnamon and set aside.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, 1 tsp cinnamon and salt in a large mixing bowl. (I use the bowl of my Kitchen Aid mixer so I can add the next step)

In a separate bowl mix the sugar, oil, juice and vanilla. It will look totally disgusting. Don't worry about it. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ones. Then add the eggs one at a time. Scrape down the side of the bowl. Don't lick the spatula.....OK....go ahead lick the spatula.

Pour half of the batter into the tube pan. Top with half of the apples and some of the nuts. Cover with the rest of batter and top with the rest of the apples and nuts.

Bake for about 1 1/2 hours or until wooden skewer comes out clean.

I have to give away half of this cake or else eat it ourselves. Believe me, my hubby and I do NOT need to eat an entire cake.

This month we took generous slices to some of our older friends and our clients, most of whom are in their 80's and one is a Pearl Harbor survivor and who don't cook so much for themselves anymore. It is like stepping back into a gentler and kinder age. We have a cocktail...or two.... and as was usual in the cocktail era of the 40's and 50's our friends insist on making a production. Frosty cocktail glasses from the freezer, a full bar, hors d'ourves, salted nuts, napkins, coasters the works. We sip and gossip about locals, about politics, their children, my children, movies and anything else. We listen to stories from their past, and I marvel at what fine good people we will lose as a Country when this generation is gone. Sometimes it makes me very sad......have another piece of cake ......please.