From “After Apple Picking”
My long pointed ladder’s sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
And there’s a barrel that I didn’t fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn’t pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples: I am drowsing off…” Robert Frost
I grew up in the Southtowns of Buffalo, New York. Most people like to call it snow country (don’t say that word too loud just yet) but I like to call it “Apple -land.” My Mom’s birthday was mid-October so we usually went up for a visit over the Columbus Day long weekend–which would be doing still, if she were alive. Mostly it would be my daughter and me on the trip Northwestward. Sometimes my sons (before they got too old and had things like football to attend to) would come along as well.
As we inched our way up the Blue Route toward Allentown, the leaves would show just a touch of color change, more by the time we reached the Pocono Mountain area. By the time we crossed the New York border near Binghamton, more color still. But when we arrived at Route 20A, the fall color was intense, exceeded only by the pumpkin punctuations at the string of roadside farm stands, up and down the hills around Warsaw, New York. We would usually arrive to Mom’s around 4 in the afternoon, just as the light was stretching out its last, and as I turned into the drive, scooting some fallen leaves out of the way, I would see a great big pumpkin on her front step; the end of the journey announced in orange: Period. She was always right there, and held the side door open as we hauled our bags from the car. Kisses and hugs in greeting, and an “I’m so happy you’re here.” Then the fragrance: the apples, a bushel full of Macs waiting right there filling the side entranceway with a perfume only nature can provide. Sweet, lightly spicy, cool, crisp. The Fall. Happy Birthday, Mommy.
Here is one of my favorite ways to bake with apples. I’ve adapted this recipe from Rosie’s Bakery All- Butter, Fresh Cream, Sugar-Packed No-Holds-Barred Baking Book. Now how’s that for a title to tantalize your sweet tooth? l don’t believe this book is still in print and the pages of mine are falling apart from use.
Apple Brown Betty
6-7 Apples (I use a combo of 2 Macs and 4-5 Granny Smith; the macs get soft and make a nice apple-sauce like filling against the tooth of the firmer Granny Smiths) peeled, cored, and sliced into 3/8″ -wide slices.
Sugar in the Raw
Good quality vanilla extract
1-1/3 cups flour
1-1/3 cups light brown sugar
1 tsp Baking Spice (I use Penzey’s) or cinnamon, more if you want it spicier
11 TBS unsalted butter at room temp cut into 10 pieces
Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter bottom and sides of deep dish casserole. (I use the butter that’s left on the inside of the wrapper, holding on to the outside of the wrapper as I work.)
I add the apples to the casserole as I peel and slice them instead of peeling them all first; this seems to keep them from discoloring quite as much. After adding about 1/3 of the apples to the dish, I sprinkle on some Sugar in the Raw and some vanilla extract. Repeat twice more until apples are all in the dish.
For the topping: place flour, brown sugar and spice in large bowl and stir together. Add butter and mix with your fingers until evenly distributed. Spread the topping evenly over the apples.
Bake in the center of the oven until the topping is crunchy and golden and the apples are bubbling, about 55-60 minutes. For serving, I like to pour some heavy cream into the bottom of each helping dish or bowl and scoop some of the betty over top. I like this recipe even for breakfast warmed over.
Do you have a favorite apple recipe to share? Or a favorite apple memory? I’d love to read it…