The Scent of Apples
Grandmother's Apple Cake
5 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup sugar
1 cup AP flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 medium baking apples
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1. Set the oven to 400 degrees. Spray the bottom of a 10 inch cast iron skillet with cooking oil spray. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the sugar into the pan.
2. In a bowl, sift the flour, salt, and baking powder.
3. In another bowl, whisk the egg, milk, and vanilla.
4. In an electric mixer, beat the butter with 1/4 cup of sugar for one minute or until light. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand. Stir in one third of the flour, then one third of the milk. Add the remaining flour and milk in the same way.
5. Use the back of a spoon or your fingertips to spread the batter in the skillet - it will be thick and sticky.
6. Peel and core the apples. Slice them 1/8 inch thick. Starting at the outer edge, arrange the apples on the cake in slightly overlapping concentric circles.
7. In a small bowl, mix the remaining 3 tablespoons with the cinnamon. Sprinkle over the apples.
8. Bake the cake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the apples are tender and a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes.
9. With a wide metal spatula , loosen the edges and bottom of the cake from the pan. Place a large plate on top and invert the pan and cake together. Lift off the pan. Place another plate on top of the cake and invert it again, so the cake is right side up. Serve warm.
Be careful not to burn this cake!
Heirloom apples are a palette of the past. Their names reach across centuries: Ashmead Kernel, Cox Orange Pippin, Lamb Abbey Pearmain, Reine de Reinette, Sheepnose or Black Gilliflower. Their flavor does, too--either one in the mouth takes you to a tree in a stone-edged field, discussing apples with a man in leather and homespun.
Hudson's Golden Gems
Our neighbor Willis Wood makes cider from antique apples on a press bought new by his family in 1882.
The best cider comes from knowing the apples and how to combine them.
This cake uses 3 cups of it.
Willis boils fresh cider into syrup and jelly.
A little more than half way along the forest trail that leads from my house to the cider mill, the scent of apples meets us, pungent, sweet and vinegary, odd against the smell of fallen leaves.
Beth Hensperger's Fresh Apple-Walnut Loaf
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 cup warm water (105-115 F)
1 cup warm milk
6-6 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour or bread flour
2 medium-large tart cooking apples, peeled, cored, and coarsley chopped (2-3 cups)
1/2 cup dried currants
1/2 cup walnuts, coarsley chopped
2 tablespoons walnut oil
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspons ground mace
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon salt
1. In a large bowl using a whisk or in the work bowl of a heavy duty electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the yeast, brown sugar, warm water, warm milk, and 2 cups of flour. Beat until smooth, about 1 minute. Cover the bowl loosly with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until foamy, about 1 hour.
2. Add the apples, currants, walnuts, oil, eggs, cinnamon, mace, allspice, salt, and 1 cup more of the flour. Beat until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until a soft dough that just clears the sides of the bowl is formed. Switch to a wooden spoon when necessary if making by hand.
3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and springy yet firm, about 5 minutes, dusting with flour only 1 tablespoon at a time as needed to prevent sticking. Push back any fruit or nuts that fall out during the kneading.
4. Place the dough in a greased deep container. Turn the dough once to coat the top and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, 1 1/2 - 2 hours.
5. Gently deflate the dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Grease two 9 by 5 inch loaf pans. Shape into two braided or regular loaves. Let rising pans till tops are an inch above rim of pan, about 45 minutes.
350 degrees for 45-50 minutes.
A wild apple tree is as gnarled and angular as an elderly aunt.
Most evenings deer gather beneath this tree, till the snows bury the remains of the season's apple crop.
Beautiful, browndog. Mind if I throw it up on the front page?
Thanks, Floyd, I'm honored--there's good company on that front page.
What a lovely post, BrownDog. And what great looking food!
Thanks, JMonkey. We both had apples on our minds this fall.
Vermont is proud of its apple-growing reputation, such as it is, but I heard recently that we only grow about 1% of the national total. (We also think of ourselves as a dairy state, but we have to ignore the reality that is Wisconsin to do so.) But the orchards are beautiful and the apples are plentiful.
Roxbury Russets are my hands-down favorite apple--born in Roxbury, MA. Have you tried them?
Wow, that post has me aching for autumn in Vermont! Especially the part about the cider; I remember so well the pungent scent you describe. Real cider does not seem to exist in California :-(
Thank you for the post.
Browndog: Oh, how you have reminded me of how much I miss the Fall back East. How very lovely! And how I wish I could taste those heirloom apples. Simply beautiful.
Liz, have you never tasted any of the old varieties? They vary a lot in flavor and I can't keep track of them all, but Roxbury Russets always seem to come out on top for me, sweet and spicy and the prettiest burnt-gold.
To me the difference between an heirloom apple and a supermarket Red Delicious is like the difference between, well, any of the breads here and a loaf of grocery store 'Italian'.
Browndog, this is a great post, great baking and great photos. Wish I were there. We never made our annual visit to Vermont this year :( and I'm really going to miss it now that I've seen your photos.
Great job. I'm going to try the apple cake tomorrow. weavershouse
if the gol darn stars wouldn't jump around when I try to click on them! I do so miss the fall in New England. I can smell the leaves, taste crisp apples right off the tree, hear the shuffle sound walking through the woods all with your pictures..Thanks, I needed that! and I can't wait to try the apple walnut loaf!
I too have been unable to rate posts using IE ver 6. Mozilla however works just fine!
Oh how I wish we had those heirloom apples here. I used to live in Northern MI and between Petosky? and Traverse City? there used to be a wonderful cider mill called the Hitchpoint Cider Mill. They had a horse drawn press (well it was a little pony). You would walk in and be only a few feet away from the press (and it was all open) you could really smell the apples and the spices. You could buy all manner of things apple, bushels of apples, apple butter etc... and then you buy gallons of cider and doughnuts made right there while you wait. Go sit on a bench out in the beautiful orchard in the fall weather and eat your doughnuts and drink your cider. Then go look at the exotic chicken exhibits, Polish chickens, brahmas, wyandottes, cochins, back then I knew nothing about chickens but oh how I wish I could go back now, LOL.
I heard they closed down the cider press because of the pasturizing laws. That really makes me sad. Just the drive out their alone was spectacular, it was a whole experience. My children would love it.
Love your pictures browndog, you are talented in many ways. : )
Amy in Alaska
Ah, Browndog, you've made my day!
We just finished off our last jar of Willis Wood's cider jelly, to our great despair. I'll have to drop hints to my brother about what I want for Christmas this year. I think he must be right down the road from you; they live in Springfield.
We only got one cider pressing in this year; the Downeast coast got hit with so many windstorms, following a rather dry summer, that most of the late trees dropped their fruit early. Still, we made enough to drink our fill, and make a crock of vinegar. My goal is to someday make enough for jelly, too.
I went to college a million years ago in Marlboro, a bit south of you. We did all our shopping at the Brattleboro food co-op, usually followed by a cup of tea and a hazelnut danish at a wonderful little bakery called Hamelman's, that specialized in European Rye Breads...
Thanks for your lovely photos and elegant writing.
edh, indeed, Willis is the very 'neighbor-with-a-cider-mill' that this post is about!! My dog and I have helped out there for years, and that's why I always have apples to spare come fall.
This small world thing is freaky. Susan lived in Norwich, Weavershouse visits Chester...and now you with Springfied connections!
We could have a Fresh Loaf Vermont meet-up, at least in spirit.
Yes, Springfield is all of 6 miles south of here. The Brattleboro Food Co-op is still going strong, but Hamelman's, I think, might have moved a little north...and expanded...
The funny thing about cider jelly is that it seems to draw the 'love it or hate it' reaction often. It is as tart as it is sweet, which is very. My dad used to keep a gallon jar on the kitchen counter, to eat with sunflower seed butter and his (rather dreadful, I'm sorry to say) homemade saltless bread.
Wow, I didn't know I'd be making so many of you homesick! Wish we could share a glass of cider and some sourdough toast, with a crunchy, noisy walk through the woods (Paddyscake, that's my favorite part of foliage season--when the leaves are down and you get to crunch through them) to follow. Thanks for all your kind words, I can see we have more in common than bread.
Susan, no proper cider in California?! Yikes.
Our British readers might raise a collective eyebrow at our use of the term 'cider' since it is really 'just' unfermented juice, but it's raw and unfiltered and the heirloom is a blend of several varieties (that changes according to availability) that makes a cider unbelievably sweet and layered.
Amy, that sounds wonderful--and heirloom chickens as well? The pasteurization laws prevent mills from selling raw cider to retail outlets here, but Willis can and does sell directly to the public from the farm. Self-service, if you can believe it.
Mmmm, fresh doughnuts! Somebody please do a doughnut post!
Weavershouse, let's meet up at Baba Louis next time you're in town.
Susan, no proper cider in California?! Yikes.
Browndog, you are my good luck charm! I found some at the farmer's market today. I was done getting my Thanksgiving root vegetables, went looking for apples, for eating and for Grandmother's Apple Cake, and there it was, $5 for 1/2 gallon. Since I had exactly $5 left (includes scraping the bottom of my bag for loose change), the cake will have to wait another day or two.
I have to admit I'm going to have to work really hard to keep everone from drinking it all right now, but if there's one thing I love more than fresh cider it's cider that's been around for a few days and just starting to turn zingy. I haven't had that in years. Thank you thank you!
Bittersweet, Susan--I'm thrilled you found some cider, but sad you had to go without apples...lord, you remind me of college days when a few spare coins meant the difference between enough for a gallon of gas or a load of laundry or a hamburger, or not.
Wonderful post, I can almost smell it! :)
I'd love to meet at Baba Louis and hope it happens.
The crunchy leaves are what I remember most about my first visit to Vermont in October '89. A friend and I were staying in Marshfield Vt. for a week of weaving lessons. Several times a day I stood outside looking up into the trees as they dropped those beautiful yellow leaves by the zillions and then walking through them like a kid. I even brought some of those leaves home and pressed them in a book to remember the visit. I also loved driving around and seeing so many gardens and piles of winter squash and apples ready to go into the cellars. I hope it's still like that. Thanks browndog, great memories. weavershouse
Weavershouse, I don't know Marshfield, but aside from a Wal-Mart or two and many fewer working farms, I don't think the smaller and less accessible towns and villages have changed much. Where I live is something of a 'bedroom' community with next to no commercial properties, it's the typical New England mix of field, forest, and houses. I love it deeply, but there are places in what is known as the Northeast Kingdom, and also rural parts of northwestern Vermont, that feel so timeless they break my heart.
Well, I'm starting to feel like a travelogue. *sigh*
Browndog I envy all your fall colours!! Our drought caused all the leaves to stay green then fall quickly <sob>
How are your apples, are they nice and juicy or hard and really sweet? Here in southern Ontario with this drought has produced hard but really sweet apples. Makes for very flavourful cider and pies but you end up pulling teeth when eating them ;)
Last year my neighbour could not lift a box of apples with the tractor because of rain fall yet this year he could almost lift two at a time.
My absolute favourite is the Snow, great for caramel apples, and pies and for HAlloween memories :)
Hey, thanks, gentlemen! Glad you stopped by.
Pumpkinpapa, I'm surprised! I always assume that whatever we don't have, Canada does--as in snow, fall color, good sugaring weather, hay... Well I'll be darned, no foliage?
The truth is I had to hunt for the bit of splendor I did find. In the past you could drive along the river or gulch roads and feel as though you were moving into a rising hill of fire, but the last couple years the color in our southeast region has been spotty and underwhelming. I hear it was better other places...on the other hand, the governor once got nailed for admitting in public that we were in for a bad black fly season...so I dunno.
We had a mild summer with a couple long dry spells that broke just about the time you'd really start worrying about your corn or your garden. The apple crop seems strong--certainly the wild apple trees were loaded, and the apples were big and solid.
Same is true for the orchard apples--I haven't sampled them all of course, but they seem just right, given the variations in type. Crisp when they should be, sweet or tart as fits, and the cider (did I mention?) is outstanding.
The Snow apple is not one I remember seeing, though that doesn't say much...I looked it up and it sounds lovely--one of those perfect all-arounds. Now I'll be on the look-out for them.
Is Ontario growing much for antique varieties?
Browndog, my friends have Northern Spy and Snow and the rest is all newer cultivars. However I do visit this site at Siloam orchards, and they have a llong list of antiques available.
That is an awesome site, like rummaging through a trick-or-treat bag. Wonderful background and history. This caught my attention right off:
because it demonstrates yet another reason these apples are so wonderful.
We have Northern Spys aplenty here, even a popular folk band goes by that name. They are my husband's favorite.
Do you keep your own trees, since you browse an orchard site?
oooooooooooooooooooooh! Browndog, that is wonderful stuff! The dough felt a little sticky and I added probably an extra half to 3/4 cup of flour and wasn't sure how it would rise. But it had huge rises in the bowl and the pans, then even more in the oven! I moistened the tops and sprinkled them with cinnamon sugar before baking. What a treat. Thanks for your beautiful post.
BTW Susan, come down to San Diego county sometime and visit the town of Julian. They are known for their apple orchards there and have great pies, cider, and other apple goodies.
Hurray! You know I've made this loaf about 4 times and never got more than just moderate ovenspring, though the texture and flavor are always grand. I'm so glad you had a success. Any pictures?
Here's what's left of the effort. Didn't take uncut loaf pictures, and I gave the other loaf to the neighbors. I used 2 cups of apples, and next time, I'll use 3. With the tan color, you'd think it had some whole wheat in it, but it's just from the spices. Maybe oats would be good too...hmmm, guess I have to make this again soon!
The tawny color is beautiful, and your ovenspring definitely trumps mine. Also I see I should be bolder with the apples--I chop them too fine and they mostly disappear.
It's nice, isn't it, how there's just enough sugar to compliment the apples and the spices, but not so much as to make it a 'sweet' bread.
Oats would be a great addition.
Thanks for sharing the picture, it's lovely!
I think I am going to have to make your apple walnut bread for my family's TD. It looks so perfect. Everything does.
I love Honey Crisp apples although I don't think they are an old variety. They are simply beautiful apples with their gold and ruby skins. Both tart and sweet at the same time - love them! There are so many others I'd love to try but some that you are mentioning I never see around here.
We are having such a glorious fall season here this year. This is my absolute favorite time of year. The leaves are just gorgeous and I keep looking out into our back yard thinking I'm seeing extra male cardinals but it is just beautifully vibrant red leaves that have fallen. Just the thought of cider makes me think of my grandmother so thanks for the reminder. I never think to buy it often enough.
Zolablue, I have to say, I made that bread four times over a period of weeks trying to get it just right--just right meaning somewhat resembling that gorgeous challah of yours. (I'm serious. I kept pulling perfectly nice loaves out of the oven and wailing to myself, "But it doesn't look like Zolablue's..!") O well.
I also quite like Honey Crisps. No, they're not an old variety but they are so pretty and sweet, you're entirely right. For me a Mac or Cortland or Delicious can't touch them.
Most of these obscure apples aren't widely available here, either. The second link above is an interview with the orchardist at Scott Farms, which is where Willis gets his heirloom cider apples (which is why I have access to them) and is 40 miles away. There are one or two nearer places that offer a few types but the season is very short.
I believe you're in the midwest? So that's where the color went this year?!
Browndog, you're so sweet but those loaves of yours are simply beautiful. I have yet to try a braid in a loaf pan and I'm anxious to do it.
I still like golden delicious apples but I never buy a red delicious apple anymore and here is an article from 2005 telling why they might not taste quite as good as they once did.
Yes, I'm in Omaha and we are having the most lovely weather here as I said before and just wonderful color. It has been so warm that I have not even harvested my herb garden yet despite a few hard freezes at night. It is against the house on the south side so I am able to keep it going, with the exception of the basil which is so fragile to cold. It is like Springtime outside today and it just makes a person happy.
I'm wondering if I should plant some apple trees.
Very interesting stuff! The price of being popular, it seems. My dad, a tiny bit of a food snob in his dear, departed way, used to call Red Delicious "fibroid tumorous growths." I was perfectly happy to eat them anyway, 30 years ago.
Credit where credit is due, however--my dad also was the one who once brought home a little sack of Russet apples into our Cincinnati kitchen, and while I was only 7 at the time, they were the most wonderful, exotic things I believed I had ever tasted. Never found or tasted them again til about 10 years ago.
Yes, you should plant some apple trees!
I made the apple-walnut loaf today, and my wife Mai loved it. My instructions are to make it again next weekend for her mother.
Great, Colin! We just finished off the last loaf from the freezer.
It's good with pecans, too.
I just realized that was your loaf on the other thread, and it looks beautiful, plus you got great ovenspring, which I never do. And it occurred to me that I always reduce the yeast when I make this bread. Maybe I shouldn't.
I messed up on the yeast. I was making half a recipe, and failed to reduce the yeast. I also failed to reduce the brown sugar, so both of them were double what they should have been.
oh. but it still tasted as good as it looked, right?
I am trying to decide if I should repeat the mistake this coming weekend.
Whenever I see a recipe with apples I go for it. I grew up on an orchard in the midwest (Wisconsin) and miss a newly pulled apple off the tree. We had the usual red and yellow delicious variety but also ones called harralson, macoun, snow, greenings, golden russets, duchess, northern spy, cortlands, and more. Boy do I miss them.
But I'm fixin' to try this apple-walnut loaf soon. Any more tricks to it other than using the three cups of the apples coarsely cut and the full yeast amount? And I'll get some kind of organic apple. Mmm, what kind?
I spent several years in the Green Bay area, many moons ago. There were the apples but more I remember the Door County cherry harvest. Where were you?
This is a very straightforward recipe, I don't think it will do anything unexpected as written. I like pecans in it, too, and used a little starter discard in my doughs. That affects the hydration a bit but not dramatically. Also as mentioned, I cut my apples pretty small and they mostly disappeared, while Sue got a little flash in the way of obvious apples by chopping coarser.
Good luck with it, and let us know how it turns out for you. We love pictures...
Oh, was that a rhetorical "mmm, what kind?" Cus I for one don't even remember what I used--it was whatever was in the fruit bowl at the time.
Browndog, I grew up in a little town south of Madison in the 50's and 60's. There are small apple orchards all over. I haven't lived there since then but always go "home" several times a year.
I did make this apple-walnut bread two days ago and it was so delicious! I tried to get a picture here but I'm 'photo challenged'. I did use the bread flour and a specific cooking apple, the granny smith. And yes, I think one should pick the right apple for this bread to get a tart taste. A baking apple that holds it's shape will work, like the granny smith, cortland, or empire variety. Yellow delicious might work even though it's soft and sweet. An eating apple like the braeburn, fugi, or gala is too sweet and doesn't hold up well for baking.
I also didn't add the apples, currants, and nuts till after a bit of kneading. And boy was it sticky and messy. But I had fun. I did add a bit more flour. It rose well and I made a 9x5 loaf and a freestyle round loaf.
And now to make more for a visit 'up north' next week to sweeten up my relatives. They'll love it.
I do get a bit too slapdash sometimes. Granny Smith sounds like an excellent choice.
You know, I have tried adding the fruit etc at the beginning, the middle, and the end, and my conclusion is, it's a struggle however you slice it, but so worth it.
My brother has worked as a PA at the Monroe Clinic for what seems like centuries. He's the only one of the family still holed up in Wisconsin.
I love your way with words. I admire your writing style. You are so cool. Wonderful pictures and all, Very nice post browndog. Everything looks great............
You are still a sweetie, I see, with a very appealing way with words of your own. You have no idea how much I missed your big-as-life presence at TFL.
How are the pooches doing?
The dogs are doing great, this is their time of year. Now that the snow is here, they never want to come back into the house. Its always "awww, can't we stay out and sniff stuff just a little longer. I know theres a tennis ball out here somewhere, and I havent found it yet. I think its next to your garage, or maybe thats where I hid your socks I stole out of the hamper."
This time, I replaced 1 1/2 cups of unbleached flour with 1 cup whole wheat flour and half a cup of quick oats (I used the whole wheat in the sponge). I used the full 3 cups of chopped apples (Granny Smith). This is a wonderful breakfast bread (or dinner dessert, or snack, or any excuse to keep your jaws moving). Again, I sprinkled the loaves with cinnamon sugar before baking.
Fantastic! Thanks, browndog.
apple raisin bread
I had some extra apples in my fridge and so I decided to try thise recipe, it turned out great! I cut the recipe in half but still came out with a huge loaf, my apartment is quite warm so I guess it didn't need as long to proof. It still tastes great but next time I will add a little more sugar and also an egg wash glaze. I thought at first there was way too much salt but once baked I didn't taste it. Over all a great recipe with lots of flavour!
I know years have passed since this original posting, but I was looking for apple recipes since I'm overrun with fruit. So I made the Hensberger recipe but exchanged pecans for walnuts and date pieces for the raisins. OMG what a great recipe! It is now my current favorite. I had to freeze the second loaf immediately or we would have eaten both loaves on the spot. I agree about a glaze for the crust--I should have read more carefully! I used an apple called Yellow Bellflower, which I planted about 8 years ago. It's a great baking apple. Stays firm, it's tart and sweet and my 95 year-old-neighbor said I HAD to plant it. She was right. Thank you for the beautiful posting.
Strikingly gorgeous post! We visited our local apple area this past week in Oak Glen, California, and yes, you can get fresh-squeezed cider there too--it's excellent.
Would you be willing to share the recipe for that 3-layer cake that takes 3 cups of cider (pictured in your post) to make? I would love to make it for a friend's birthday coming up soon.
I put up fourteen pints of apple butter this weekend from the Oak Glen apples--used Jonagolds, Red Fujis, Stark Delicious, Winesaps and a few Fortune apples to make it. Cooked for six hours, it was deep brown and had the neighborhood coming by to see what was cooking--spices of Araby! We'll go back up to get some Arkansas Blacks for my apple sauce. There's an apple pie waiting to be made this week from the Pippins we bought. Apples are my absolute favorite fruit and fall is my favorite season so I enjoyed the posting pictures very much.
Glad to hear people are still enjoying this post--I am also up to my ears in apples this season ansd have made about 4 pies in the last 4 weeks.
Trialer70, I will be happy to share that recipe.
Cider & Spice Cake
3 c sifted cake flour
1 tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
3/4 c shortening
1 1/2 c brown sugar, firmly packed
3 eggs, beaten
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 c apple cider
*Sift together dry ingredients.
*Creamshortening & sugar; add eggs; beat until thoroughly blended.
*Add lemon juice to cider. Add alternately with dry ingredients to creamed mixture, beating after each addition.
*Pour batter into 3 greased round 8" pans. Bake at 350 degrees, 25-30 minutes.
*Let stand 10 minutes; turn out to cool.Spread filling between layers and frost.
Combine 1/2 c sugar, 1/4 tsp salt and 3 tbsp cornstarch in saucepan. Add 1 cup cider; mix.Cook over low heart, stirring constantly, until thick and clear.Add 2 tbsp lemon juice & 2 tbsp margarine or butter. Cool.
Creamy Cider Icing
Melt 1/2 c butter or margarine in saucepan; blend in 3 1/2 tbsp flour and 1/4 tsp salt. Add 1/2 c cider; stir well. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; add 3 c sifted confectioners sugar and beat well. Add 1/2 c finely chopped nuts.
~from Farm Journal's Country Cookbook 1959
Where have you been? We've missed you terribly!! (sp?)
Everyone, you are in for a treat if "browndog" stays with us!!
STAY, Browndog, STAY!!
Hey Paddyscake, I feel as though my response should be "WOOF!"
Certainly my tail is wagging at seeing you again...:-)