It’s about to be apple season, probably my favorite time of the year. With it comes cider, apple butter, apple dumplings, and all kinds of tasty treats. The “Bittersweet” magazine has several articles on Ozark apple uses both of which can be found online. One talks about traditional cider making the other about the long process of making apple butter.
Here’s a recipe for a quick butter that won’t take you days to make but still tastes pretty great:
Crock-Pot Apple Butter
5 1⁄2 lbs apples, peeled and finely chopped
4 cups sugar
2 -3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cloves
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
Place apples in a large bowl. Combine sugar, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Pour over apples and mix well. Place in crock pot, cover and cook on high for 1 hour. Decrease heat to low; cover and cook on low for 9-11 hours or until thickened and dark brown. Stir occasionally. Uncover and cook on low for 1 hour longer. If desired, whisk until smooth. Spoon into freezer containers, leaving 1/2-inch head space. Cover and freeze.
I think one of the better apple dumpling recipes I’ve found comes from the Betty Crocker cookbook:
2 cups all-purpose flour or whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold butter or margarine
4 to 5 tablespoons cold water
6 baking apples, about 3 inches in diameter (such as Braeburn, Granny Smith or Rome)
3 tablespoons raisins
3 tablespoons chopped nuts
2 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 1/3 cups water
Heat the oven to 425°F. In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt. Cut in the butter, using a pastry blender or fork, until particles are the size of small peas. Sprinkle with the cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing well with fork until all flour is moistened. Gather the dough together, and press it into a 6×4-inch rectangle.
Lightly sprinkle flour over a cutting board or countertop. Cut off 1/3 of the dough with a knife; set aside. On the floured surface, place 2/3 of the dough. Flatten dough evenly, using hands or a rolling pin, into a 14-inch square; cut into 4 squares. Flatten the remaining 1/3 of the dough into a 14×7-inch rectangle; cut into 2 squares. You will have 6 squares of dough.
Remove the stem end from each apple. Place the apple on a cutting board. Using a paring knife, cut around the core by pushing the knife straight down to the bottom of the apple and pull up. Move the knife and make the next cut. Repeat until you have cut around the apple core. Push the core from the apple. (Or remove the cores with an apple corer.) Peel the apples with a paring knife.
Place 1 apple on the center of each square of dough. In a small bowl, mix the raisins and nuts. Fill the center of each apple with raisin mixture. Moisten the corners of each square with small amount of water; bring 2 opposite corners of dough up over apple and press corners together. Fold in sides of remaining corners; bring corners up over apple and press together. Place dumplings in a 13×9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish.
In a 2-quart saucepan, heat the brown sugar and 1 1/3 cups water to boiling over high heat, stirring frequently. Carefully pour the sugar syrup around the dumplings.
Bake about 40 minutes, spooning syrup over apples 2 or 3 times, until crust is browned and apples are tender when pierced with a fork.
Serve warm or cooled with syrup from pan.
Then there’s apple cake, another favorite of mine:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups shredded peeled apples (about 2 medium apples)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 quart vanilla or cinnamon ice cream
Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 9-inch round cake pan with baking spray with flour.
In large bowl, beat butter and sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Stir in vanilla, flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Stir in apples and walnuts. Spoon into pan.
Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Remove from pan to cooling rack. Cool 10 minutes longer. Serve warm with ice cream.
And let’s not forget about apple cider. Currently I don’t have my own cider press, although I’m hoping to one day own one, so I just get locally made apple cider (let other folks do all the hard work). Every year about this time I’ll get a couple gallons of good cider, pour them in a clean carboy, add some champagne yeast, and let nature take its course. Usually what happens is I forget about it until months later, which is really how you get good cider. I just bottled some from last Fall along with about a gallon and a half of homemade Mead, and boy is it good (and strong, watch out). The longer you can leave it to ferment the better it’ll be.