It’s all about apples around here — where to pick them, the many varieties and what to make with them! The New York area is full of orchards, ripe with virtually every kind of apple. It’s a regular weekend outing for friends to pack picnic lunches and head out to the orchards to pick-their-own. We did just that yesterday with our good friends and each family returned with close to a bushel. Luckily for me, I have a pretty good way to use up all my apples and so do my friends — we cook and bake together!
Usually, the Monday after apple picking, there’s a lot of apple talk, as we brainstorm ways to use our sweet and tart bounty. There’s also a lot of sharing going on, with the friends who picked providing the apples and those that haven’t yet, promising to do so at a later date. So far, we’ve made mini apple pies using some adorable apple molds we found at William Sonoma, apple pie filling (which we discovered freezes exceptionally well), lots of apple sauce and a super moist and delicious apple cake.
This week, our apple talk includes some new ways to use our surplus — pork chops with baked apples, apple turnovers and even soup. Our cooking dates are scheduled and revolve around the simple goal of using up every last one of these apples in a way our families will enjoy.
How do you use your apples? We’d love to hear your ideas!
Here’s the recipe for my moist, delicious, relatively healthy apple cake:
Apple Sauce Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes two 8 x 8 cakes
2 ½ cups flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ cup canola oil
½ cup white sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
½ cup milk
1 ½ or 2 cups apple sauce (see recipe for quick, no food mill apple sauce)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium sized bowl, measure the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, with an electric mixer, beat together the oil and both kinds of sugar. Then add the eggs, vanilla and apple sauce. Gradually add in the flour mixture and milk and beat until smooth.
Grease the bottom of two square baking dishes and divide the batter among the two.
Bake for 22-25 minutes in a pre-heated oven.
Cool and spread cream cheese frosting. Store in the refrigerator or freezer until ready-to-eat.
Cream Cheese Frosting
(Makes enough for a double batch – 4 cakes)
4 ounces regular bar cream cheese, room temperature
4 ounces light cream cheese, room temperature
5 cups confectioner sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons half and half
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Using an electric mixer, beat the two cheeses together. Add the sugar gradually, continuously mixing until the sugar comes together with the cheese. Add the half and half, one tablespoon at a time, and then the vanilla, mixing well until the icing is smooth.
8 cups apples, peeled and quartered
¼ cup sugar
In a medium sized pot, combine the apples and water. Bring to a quick boil and then turn heat down to a simmer. Cook the apples, covered, for approximately 15-20 minutes until tender. Drain the apples and all but two tablespoons water and puree until smooth. An immersion blender is the perfect tool for this, but you can also use a regular blender or potato masher. Add ¼ cup sugar if your apples are too tart and stir well. Refrigerate until ready-to-use.