Bake with your bounty: What to do with the fruits of your apple-picking labor
Whether you pick your own apples or grab a bag at the store, at some point this fall you might want to do more than just bite into your bounty.
Baking, after all, gives you the scent of apples and spices wafting through the house -- not to mention beloved fall treats.
When I want to know anything about baking, I turn to the works of former Daily Herald Baking Secrets columnist Annie Overboe. Her tips are timeless, her recipes easy to follow, and the results delicious. Win-win-win.
Here I share a handy guide to picking the best apples for baking, followed by three recipes starring your freshly picked fruit.
Granny Smith: Dark green in color with a zippy, tart taste and crisp texture, Granny Smiths are the most reliable baking apple and the best variety for pies and cakes. When in doubt at the supermarket, choose Granny Smith. I like the large ones -- less peeling.
Jonagold: A cross between a Jonathan and Golden Delicious, this apple offers a crisp, juicy texture and slightly tart flavor. Plus, they're beautifully crimson in color with splashes of gold. Jonagolds are an excellent choice for any baked apple recipe.
Golden Delicious: The universal apple, this variety goes from the lunchbox to the oven with ease. Lighter yellow colors signify sweeter tastes. When used in a pie recipe, reduce the sugar by 1 tablespoon for each 1½ cup of sliced apples.
Jonathan: This deep red, round apple with a firm texture and spicy background flavor is good in pies, cakes and applesauce. Like the Granny Smith, a Jonathan keeps its very firm texture after baking.
Pippin: Not as green as the Granny Smith, this small, round apple shines with yellow overtones. It boasts a fresh fruit aroma and edgy taste that adds great flavor to pies and sauces.
Salted Caramel Dip for Apples
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon salt (sea salt or regular)
½ cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
½ cup light corn syrup
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 cinnamon stick
¼ cup orange juice (juice from 1 orange)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ cup sour cream
In 2-cup measure, stir heavy cream and salt until combined. Set aside.
In large diameter heavy-duty pan, combine butter pieces, corn syrup and sugars. Add salted heavy cream. Cook over low heat, stirring slowly and constantly, until mixture is melted and completely smooth. Add the cinnamon stick and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook until mixture begins to boil, lightly brushing orange juice down sides of pan while cooking.
Reduce heat to simmer and cook 7 minutes, occasionally brushing sides of pan with orange juice. Add vanilla extract and cook 1 minute, gently stirring with wooden spoon. Mixture will slightly bubble. Carefully remove cinnamon stick.
Take off heat and carefully pour hot caramel sauce into large heatproof glass bowl or 4-cup Pyrex measure. Gently stir or whisk in sour cream until combined. Set aside for 1 hour to cool at room temperature, undisturbed. Gently stir after cooled. Allow caramel sauce to set at room temperature for at least 2 hours before serving.
Store at room temperature for 2 days or in the refrigerator, tightly covered with plastic wrap. Gently warm in microwave before serving with sliced apples.
Baker's Hint: For best results, do not use salted butter or margarine in this caramel recipe.
Makes 3½ cups
Warm Caramel Apple Cake
For the cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 large eggs
½ cup vegetable oil
3 cups chopped tart apples, about 4 large
¾ cup walnuts, chopped and divided
For the caramel frosting
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup light brown sugar
4 tablespoons cream cheese, divided
1 cup powdered sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease bottom of 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Set aside.
In large mixing bowl, stir together flour, brown sugar, soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg, breaking up any lumps. With mixer on low speed, add eggs and oil to dry ingredients. Mix only until combined, about 30 seconds. Batter will be thick; scrape bowl well.
Stir in chopped apples and ½ cup chopped walnuts. Spoon into prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes until tester inserted at center comes out clean.
Prepare frosting immediately after cake comes out of the oven. In small saucepan, melt butter, brown sugar and 3 tablespoons cream cheese. Stir well and cook caramel until smooth and begins to boil. Let caramel mixture boil on medium heat for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat and stir in ½ cup powdered sugar until smooth. Cool 1 minute. Stir in remaining powdered sugar and vanilla. Frosting will be thick. Immediately stir in remaining 1 tablespoon cream cheese and blend well. Quickly pour over warm cake spreading evenly to frost top. Sprinkle with ¼ cup chopped walnuts. Cool 10 minutes and serve warm.
Baker's hint: Choose Granny Smith, Jonathan or Jonagold varieties.
Frontier Apple Crisp
For the filling
2½ pounds Golden Delicious apples
½ cup honey
1½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
For the crust
¾ cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons water, room temperature
For the streusel topping
½ cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease bottom of 9-inch square glass baking pan.
To make the filling: Peel, core and thinly slice apples. Toss into large bowl, add honey and stir until coated. Sprinkle flour on apples and dot with butter pieces; stir to coat. Set aside.
To make the crust: In a small bowl, stir together flour and powdered sugar. Add softened butter and using fingertips, mix together until texture is crumbly.
In a small cup, whisk together the egg yolk and water. Pour liquid over the crumbly flour mixture and stir until moistened. Press dough evenly into the bottom and ½-inch up the sides of prepared pan with lightly floured fingers. Bake for 7 minutes. Prepare streusel while crust bakes.
To make streusel and assemble crisp: In a small bowl, stir together flour, light brown sugar and cinnamon. Add butter and mix together with fingertips until crumbly and butter is incorporated into the dry ingredients.
Remove crust from oven. Pour apple filling onto the crust and gently press down on the apples. Sprinkle streusel to cover the apples. Return to 400-degree oven for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for 25-30 minutes or until apples in the center feel tender. Use a thin knife to test doneness.
Cool for 30 minutes before serving.
Baker's Hint: Tart apple varieties, such as Granny Smith, may be substituted for the sweeter Golden Delicious. Increase the honey to 2/3 cup in the filling directions.