Evolution of an Apple


Some of you might recall that I recently made a trek out to the coast to retrieve an abundance of apples from my dearest friend Conny, who is off to South America for the next two months, rendering her impossibly able to take advantage of her own harvest. Happily and ever so gratefully I gathered the above, from a number of trees (lucky me!). Upon returning they were placed in two large bowls on the kitchen table, a harkening and beckoning towards the abundance of fall–and to productivity in the kitchen! Now what to do??

First on the agenda was to bring the dehydrator in from out in the storage shed and to set to cutting and peeling a few dozen apples. Each slice I dipped in lemon water, then stacked them on ten trays in the dehydrator where they stayed for a good eight hours or so. dryingaps

And this was the ultimate result.

Oh, I love having these around at this time of year! They are such a delicious, healthy snack, and while they are, indeed, time consuming, the entire process fosters the trend so many of us are returning to–eating locally, and preparing our own foods. Not only are we going to save a bundle, we are honoring the food which (honestly?) frequently goes unharvested and unused, for many good reasons. And as if that were not enough, we are lowering our carbon footprint, as no trucks were needed to bring me apples from afar. No, indeed. I love this!

But I had more apples to take advantage of. I needed to get both practical and more creative. So early this morning I took on the next big batch, and voila, a wonderful big bowl of applesauce emerged in about an hour and a half in my kitchen! Simple and utterly delicious!

So was I done? Not really. Turns out that as I was looking up applesauce in my Joy of Cooking, right at the end of the process of making it [I thought you could add freshly grated nutmeg–and did!] I happened to notice the words applesauce cake. Hmmm. (Shaking head.) And I simply could not resist. So here’s where that impulse led:

Not like any applesauce cake you’ve ever seen, right? Yeah. Me, neither. Because right at the end of the recipe there’s a little directive to Old Fashioned Caramel Frosting, which involved a candy thermometer, even. By then there was no turning back. I went to Ross and found a food thermometer and came home and made it, knowing it was dangerous territory when I read two cups of brown sugar and one cup of heavy cream. Yeah. But I can’t recall ever using a candy thermometer before, and had always been curious and love to enter new kitchen terrain, so I did it. And I’m glad. It’s not hard. It’s just time consuming. Want the recipe? The holidays are coming, afterall.

Old Fashioned Caramel Frosting (does this mean women used to do this all the time??)
You mix two cups of brown sugar (light or dark) with one cup of heavy cream in a heavy saucepan at medium heat. Then when it begins to simmer, cover it and let it cook for two minutes. Then you uncover and let it cook until it reaches 238 degrees F. It will feel like a science project, and I suppose it is in some way. Then you remove from heat and put three T. unsalted butter into the mix, but do not stir. You now need to let it cool to 110 degrees, which will take 45 min. to an hour. Then you add a teaspoon of vanilla and beat it until it thickens, which happens pretty fast. And then you spread on the cake. It’s amazing, I must say. πŸ™‚

Autumn is a wonderful time to get into the kitchen and bake. I am inspired to be more experimental, more adventurous in my kitchen this season. I promise to share my best discoveries, and I hope you will please share yours!

Love and kitchen blessings,
Kathryn xoxo

Footnote: Here’s the old Hall Nursery sign from Cherry Valley. (See Julie’s comment below.)

18 Responses to “Evolution of an Apple”

  1. Gorgeous pictures, mom! It’s so Lovely that you’re utilizing the apples Conny could not enjoy.. and, the cake is delicious! πŸ™‚

    Love you,

  2. Hi, Antonia! Thank you! I’m glad you are enjoying the results! Love, Mom xoxo

  3. I am all OVER this cake. I can smell it on the page! YUM!

  4. Welcome, MA! LOL! This is a funny comment. I wish I could email you a piece! πŸ™‚ Thanks for the visit!
    Kathryn xoxo

  5. What a delicious post Kathryn!
    Thank you,

  6. Good morning, Kathlene! It’s been pretty yummy on this end! Love, Kathryn xoxo

  7. Today is our first day of rain of the season. The house is buffeted by winds and this is a perfect day to be inside and make something!
    The applesauce sounds wonderful, and the applesauce with caramel frosting sounds really fun.
    Now, serendipitously, I bought a food thermometer just last week at Williams Sonoma! How about that!
    I have the Joy of cooking so I will walk (yes walk… I love walking in the rain and wind as long as I have my boots and rain gear!) to the store a get the rest of the ingredients.
    This cake will be more than we can eat, but it will also be fun to share with friends and neighbors.
    Thanks for the inspiration!

  8. Kathryn; Apples! Do you know the family stories about apples? My great-grandfather Otis Wing Matthewson used the farm in DeKalb Illinois as a research station to work on apple varities in the late 1800s and early 1900s (he died in 1925?). Anyway, it was before the U. of Illinois had research stations. Dad remembered twigs being sent from Europe and around the US in winter and his grandfather rushing out to graft them onto root stock he already had growing and available. He also worked at cross-pollination and some of his own breeding. Of course, apples are roses so they graft true but do not seed true. I’ve often wondered if some of his stock made it to the Hall Nursery in Cherry Valley. I do know that the Hall Nursery had a large fruit tree business. As they were cousins and only a county apart, it would make a nice connection. Did they all learn about plants in New York or did they learn about them in Illinois? The last of the apple trees on the farm died in the 1990s at close to 100 years old. I’d like to think that some of their offspring are still growing someplace.
    Hugs from here in Ohio, Julie

  9. Hi, Philip! Oh, I LOVE thinking of you walking in the same rain that’s plummeting down up here to get your ingredients for applesauce caramel cake! We shared ours, too, with Antonia’s friend, who apparently wanted to know if I would consider selling one! So it must have been good. πŸ™‚ (It was.) Yes, perfect day for making soups and baking! And how fortunate to have a food thermometer on hand! Enjoy! Kathryn xoox

  10. Good morning, Julie! Thanks for the family apple history stories! So rich! I just retrieved the Hall Nursery sign from the family genealogy site. I’m going to post above, as I can’t within comment. So sad when old trees die, but, gosh, 100 years is a long time of service, isn’t it? Bless those trees, and, yes, let’s hope there’s one still alive and well and nurturing another family. Always love your comments. Thanks again.
    Love, Kathryn xoxo

  11. Yum, Kathryn …. I can smell this post and mouth-watering recipes! It’s a stunning autumn day at the lake and if not here, I would be home baking (something with apples, of course). Happy Autumn, dear friend πŸ™‚

  12. Hi, Joey, I’m sure you know your way around an apple or two, as inventive as you are! Enjoy the lake, my dear! It must be gorgeous! Kathryn xoxo

  13. Delicious! Reminds me of my childhood home, upstate New York, home of some great apples!

  14. Good morning and welcome, Theresa! I have fond memories of vineyards in upstate New York. Was never privy to their apple orchards. So glad this post reminds you of your childhood home! Lovely. And thanks for the visit! Kathryn xoxo

  15. Kathryn, I ‘m so glad to have found your blog! People have been tweeting all weekend about their apple-picking adventures and wondering what ELSE to make! I love that you use Joy of Cooking; I’m not a chef or a foodie but that is my bible because, frankly, it has everything (even things you don’t really want to know about, like how to prepare armadillo, hedgehog and squirrel!) I found you through Debra Baldwin, glad I did! There are two of me following you on Twitter now, InterLeafer and my new alter-ego for the SF Garden Show, MsChiefCultiv8r (I’m on the show staff this year). I look forward to more from you! Were you at the GWA Symposium last month? I thought it was great!

  16. Hi, Laura! I’m so glad you found my blog, too! It’s funny and not hard to imagine folks trying to figure out what to do with all their apples. Yep, this is the season! That, and canning, which I’ve yet to tackle. Want to beef up my equipment first, I decided. Wasn’t familiar with JOC’s armadillo properties, but will bear in mind. πŸ˜‰ Was not at GWA, though wrote two articles for their newsletter last year! πŸ™‚ Thanks for stopping by! Kathryn xoxo

  17. Oh my! That applesauce cake with the caramel icing is simply…..devilishly good looking! I’m saving the caramel recipe! What a feast you’ve presented us with. πŸ™‚

  18. Hi, Nancy! Welcome, my dear! Yes, that caramel frosting is a good one to have in one’s bag of tricks! Very impressive at holiday time, I daresay! Enjoy! Big hugs! Kathryn xoxo

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