Try apples in these autumn scones, muffins, pickles and pies
CBC food columnist Julie Van Rosendaal picks her favourite dishes to highlight the ubiquitous fruit
It's apple season and although much of our supply comes from Okanagan orchards, there are plenty of the fall favourite fruit to be found in Calgary backyards, public spaces and even dog parks.
Though the varieties tend to be small and tart, they're worthy of plucking and transforming into all kinds of tasty things. Because they're so high in pectin, jelly is a popular option and it doesn't require peeling and coring. You can spread jelly on toast or spike with chilies or a sprig of fresh rosemary to serve with cheese.
If they're too finicky to peel, you can boil them whole, mash and pour through a colander to remove the cores and stems for apple sauce, apple butter or the base of a sweet-tart barbecue sauce. For barbecue sauce, purée the simmered apples with sautéed onions, brown sugar, vinegar and Worcestershire. These are easy options to stash away in the freezer.
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I've seen small crabapples roasted whole, rolled around in sugar and sprinkled with cinnamon. Also, they're yummy quickly pickled with sugar and apple cider vinegar to pick up by the stem and eat whole. In this case, discard the stem but often the core is small and soft enough to eat, as well.
Leave the core but roughly cut them in in halves or quarters to tuck into a bottle of vodka along with a cinnamon stick to stash away for the holidays. Chop and turn them into chutney to jar or freeze.
Take the added step of coring them. Just cut off the cheeks, discarding the middle. Add to pies, cobblers, crisps and other baked goods. Do this alone or with other apples, pears, rhubarb or stone fruit. Give them a quick sauté in a skillet with some butter and brown sugar or maple syrup. Use this to top your pancakes, oatmeal or even a baked brie.
Here are a host of options for apple recipes to try, from scones and muffins to pickles and brie:
Apple pie scones
When you don't have the gumption to bake a pie, these are far easier. They'll make your house smell just as delicious.
They're stuffed with apples and baked in wedges, so they resemble slices of actual apple pie.
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour.
- 2 tbsp sugar.
- 1½ tsp baking powder.
- ¼ tsp salt.
- 1/3 cup butter, grated or cut into bits.
- ¾ cup half-and-half or milk.
- 1 apple, cored and thinly sliced.
- 2 tbsp sugar.
- ½ tsp cinnamon.
- coarse sugar, for sprinkling, optional.
Preheat the oven to 204 C (400 F).
In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the butter and toss if it's grated. Otherwise, rub in with a fork or your fingers.
Pour in the cream and stir until the dough comes together. Roll or pat it into a square 20-25 centimetres or eight to 10 inches in diameter.
In a small bowl, toss the apple slices with sugar and cinnamon. Spread them down the middle of the dough square, covering about a third. Fold over the edges to cover, like a letter.
Brush with a little extra cream and sprinkle with coarse, or even regular, sugar.
Cut into six to eight wedges and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing them 2.5 centimetres or so apart.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the apples are tender and the scones are golden.
Serving: Makes six to eight scones.
Sweet pickled crabapples
Small pickled apples were common a century ago. Sugar and vinegar preserved the fruit well. The sweet, tangy apples are delicious served whole with roasted chicken, turkey, pork or ham, or on a cheese platter.
Poke each apple with a fork or bamboo skewer to prevent the skins from splitting as they simmer.
The measurements here are pretty flexible. The basic ratio is one part apple cider vinegar, one part water and two parts apples, with a cinnamon stick and other warm spices, such as cloves and star anise, tossed into the pot or jar.
- 1½ cups apple cider vinegar.
- 1½ cups water.
- 3 cups sugar.
- 453 g/1 lb whole crabapples, washed but stems left intact.
- 1 cinnamon stick.
In a large saucepan, bring the vinegar, water and sugar to a simmer. Poke each apple with a fork or bamboo skewer. Toss into the pot along with the cinnamon stick to simmer for five minutes, until just barely tender but not too soft.
Serving: Transfer to a jar and pour the syrup overtop. Refrigerate for up to three months.
Apple muffins with carrots, squash or sweet potato
Similar to carrot cake, these muffins can be made with grated carrot, squash, sweet potato, even beets. To make chunky applesauce to use in the batter, peel, core and roughly chop apples into a pot.
Add a splash of water to keep them from burning and sugar to taste (or not).
Cover and simmer until the apples are soft enough to mash with a potato masher or fork. This sauce freezes very well.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour.
- 1 cup sugar.
- 1 cup packed brown sugar.
- 1 tbsp baking soda.
- 1 tbsp cinnamon.
- 1 tsp ginger.
- ½ tsp salt.
- ¾ cup canola oil.
- 4 large eggs.
- 2 tsp vanilla.
- 2 packed cups coarsely grated carrots, beets, sweet potatoes or squash.
- 1 cup applesauce or grated apples.
- ½ cup chopped walnuts, pecans, raisins or dried cranberries, optional.
- 1/3 cup coconut, optional.
Preheat the oven to 190 C (375 F). In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt.
In a smaller bowl, whisk together the oil, eggs and vanilla.
Add the oil mixture, grated carrots and applesauce to the dry ingredients. Stir by hand until almost combined.
Add the nuts and dried fruit and stir just until the batter is blended.
Pour the batter into paper-lined muffin tins and bake for 20 minutes or until the tops are domed and springy to the touch.
Serving: Makes about two dozen muffins.
Baked brie with caramelized apples
Apples and cheese are a natural pairing. Give a few small sliced crabapples or a larger apple a quick sauté with butter and brown sugar or maple syrup.
Pour over a wheel of brie with a sprig or two of rosemary. Bake in the oven until it's warm and gooey.
This is also great with chunks and pieces of brie and/or other meltable cheese, such as fontina or raclette, all tossed together in a small skillet or baking dish.
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With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.