What’s Your Favorite Apple? - Random Reasonings

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What’s Your Favorite Apple?

Every year when October arrives I start craving foods made with apples.

Just knowing it’s October triggers it, even if I’m in Florida where the weather is still warm and summery.

Apples and Fall are inseparable. Do you have a favorite apple?

Did you know there are more than 100 varieties of apples grown in the U.S.?

I select apples based on what I want to do with them. For biting into a fresh apple, I want a Macintosh.

It’s smallish size is perfect. It has the most delicious flavor balance of sweet and tart. And the perfect crunchy softness. But I never use the Macintosh for cooking or baking. It gets mushy much too quickly.

For apple pie, I use a blend of three apples that will hold their firmness while cooking. I start with a third of Granny Smiths. Then I add a third of Honey Crisp and a third of Jonathans. They make the best-tasting apple pie ever!

Red Delicious apples used to be the best-selling apple variety… readily available all year long in grocery stores. But four years ago Gala apples took the number one spot.

Compared to varieties like Fuji, Gala, and Honey Crisp, Red Delicious just aren’t that delicious any more! But they are still the iconic image of an apple.

Red Delicious were created by an Iowa farmer named Jessie Hiatt who discovered a new, hardy apple growing on his Iowa farm. He entered it in an apple contest held in Missouri in 1893 by Stark Brothers Nurseries.

Folklore has it that the president of Stark Brothers took a bite of the apple and exclaimed … “this is delicious!”.  Stark Brothers purchased the rights from Hiatt and renamed it the Stark Delicious Apple. In 1914 it received its current name of the Red Delicious.

Growers started to do selective breeding of the Red Delicious to make it more disease resistant and consistent in shape and flavor. But that also led to a decline in the sweetness of the Red Delicious apple. Unfortunately, over the years growers have bred the flavor out of the Red Delicious apple. Now it’s kind of bland.

As to size and shape, the rounder Red Delicious apples are usually grown in the Eastern U.S.  The more elongated larger Red Delicious are usually from the Pacific Northwest.

There are so many apple desserts to love at this time of year. Apple crisp, apple brown betty, apple cobbler, apple tarts, apple strudel, apple muffins, apple tatin, apple dumplings, apple fritters, and of course several kinds of apple pie. I love them all.

My favorite alternative to all those fresh apple desserts is Apple Butter Cake. I got my recipe for this more than 40 years ago from an issue of Gourmet Magazine. With a cup of apple butter plus ground cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice in the batter, this amazing cake is the perfect ending to a hearty fall dinner. [My recipe is at the end of the blog if you want it.]

I also use apples in meat dishes. My favorite is a pork loin roast, rubbed with allspice, and slowly braised in an apple cider and maple syrup liquid. 30 minutes before serving I slice fresh sweet apples, usually gala or honey crisp, in with the meat, and return it to the oven to give the sauce an extra kick of apple taste.

If the adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” has even an element of truth, it’s another good reason to eat apples. Especially in the fall when they’re fresh from the tree. Apples have numerous health benefits for your heart, lung strength, immune system, bones, and digestive system. And, even better, the average apple is only 52 calories!

With so much flavor, so much variety, and so many healthy benefits, who wouldn’t want to enjoy the many varieties of fresh apples? This is the perfect week to make your favorite apple recipe!

“The world would be a different place if Adam had been allergic to apples.”

Marin Darmonkow

If you enjoyed this blog and know someone else who would enjoy it, please share it.  For my recipe for Apple Butter Cake, keep reading!

Apple Butter Cake

Ingredients:

1 C. light brown sugar
½ C. shortening
1 egg
2 C. flour
1 tsp. Each of ground cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice
¾ C. sour milk or butter milk
2 tsp. baking soda
1 C. apple butter (I prefer either Musselman’s or Jake & Amos apple butter. Use the regular, not the low sugar or unsweetened.)

Instructions:

Sift the flour and spices together in a bowl. Set aside.

Add the baking soda to the milk and blend in with a small whisk.

In a mixer bowl cream the brown sugar and shortening. When smooth, add the egg and beat until blended.

Slowly beat in the sifted flour and spice mixture alternating with the milk until the batter is smooth.

Fold in the apple butter with a spatula. Don’t beat it in with a mixer.

Put the batter in a 9” square metal baking pan. (Do not use a glass baking dish.) Place on rack level 2 in your oven and bake at 325° for 5 minutes. Turn the heat up to 350° and bake about 1 hour more or until done when tested in the center with a toothpick.

Cool 5 minutes before turning it out of the pan.

Topping

This cake is delicious as is, without any topping. But to make it more of a dessert there are several types of topping you can use. A simple powdered sugar glaze is good, as is a cream cheese frosting. But my favorite is a caramel pecan topping. Here’s that recipe:

Caramel Pecan Frosting

1 egg
5-ounce can of evaporated milk
2/3 C. granulated sugar
¼ C. unsalted butter
1-1/3 C. finely chopped pecans (Note: Chopped walnuts can be substituted for the pecans. For added sweetness use chopped glazed pecans or walnuts.)

Instructions:

In a medium sized sauce pan combine the egg, milk, sugar, and butter. Cook and stir over medium heat for about 12 minutes until well blended and sugar is thoroughly dissolved and it becomes thick. Remove from heat. Stir in the chopped pecans. Cover and cool it in the fridge before spreading it on the cake.

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