Apples are a sign of the fall season. And Cloverfields Farm & Kitchen's Janine Washle shows some easy recipes to make the most of the various varieties of apples. Sterling Riggs took a field trip to the Hardin County farm to see just how Janine makes use of the fall harvest.
First, a little apple history:
She says apples have been in existence since the beginning of recorded time. It is thought that apples originated in the area of the Black and Caspian Seas known as the Caucasus. With crusades and wars, apples became more widely known. They traveled to Europe with the Romans.
As the Roman Empire waned, so did the popularity of apples. Had it not been for monastic orchards, many varieties, apple grafting and growing techniques would have been lost. The apple's popularity picked up again in Renaissance Italy when cooks discovered sugar.
The apple immigrated to the United States with European settlers and was well received probably because it was tastier than the native crabapple. In fact, the original apples were probably much smaller in size than we know them; more like the crabapple in physical attributes.
The Lady apple found in local grocery stores during the holidays is the oldest apple variety in existence today. Apples are also related to roses, peaches, and almonds to name a few. If you look at an apple blossom in the spring, it looks exactly like a wild rose blossom. And in the winter when you gaze upon a rose hip, blow it up several hundred times in your mind, and you have something that looks very similar to an apple.
How many sayings that incorporate apple can you think of? Here are a few to get you started: Apple of my Eye An apple a day keeps the doctor away. One bad apple spoils the bunch.
Interestingly, the term "upper crust" refers to early America and apple pie. Because of the scarcity of cooking ingredients, in order to save on fat and flour, poor folks only made the bottom crust when baking an apple pie. Rich households could afford both crusts and those families became known as the "upper crust". So while you are making pie crusts and considering apple pie for the upcoming holidays, think about its' long and storied history. It will make you appreciate this fruit even more.
Below is Janine's "go to" apple butter recipe, if she is not cooking it in her copper kettle outside. Here is a hint to make a weekend special: When you have company coming in, prepare this recipe a few hours beforehand. Your house will smell so inviting. A fresh loaf of bread and some warm tea will create a special time courtesy of your kitchen.
Slow Cooker Apple Butter
Yield: about 8 cups
8 pounds apples (12 large apples), peeled, cored, and sliced about 1/4" thick
1/2 cup good quality apple cider vinegar
3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup sorghum syrup or dark molasses (not blackstrap)
1 TB ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
Preparation: Place sliced apples and vinegar in a 6-quart slow cooker.
Cook, covered, at HIGH 4 hours. Stir occasionally.
At the end of 4 hours, break down apples with a potato masher. Stir in sugar, sorghum, cinnamon, and cloves.
Reduce setting to LOW; cook, covered, 5 hours. Uncover and cook 1 hour longer.
Mash vigorously to further break up any apple chunks. Or use an immersion blender.
Cool. Place in containers.
Store in refrigerator up to a week.
OR Freeze: Place apple butter in freezer containers leaving about 1/2" headspace.
Put a folded piece of plastic wrap on top of apple butter to help prevent ice crystals. Put on freezer lid. Freeze for up to 4 months.
OR Can: Follow jar manufacturers' canning instructions. Go to www.homecanning.com for specific instructions.
NOTE: If the apples aren't very juicy, you may need to add a bit of apple juice/cider from time to time if they seem to be sticking on the bottom or around the edges. I devised the following recipe with whole wheat flour so I could serve something sweet without feeling so guilty about it.
Whole Wheat Apple Butter Cake
6 TB unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup sugar
1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1-1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground allspice
1-1/2 cups buttermilk
1 cup apple butter
½ fresh orange zest
Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting, recipe follows
Preparation: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare 2 9" cake pans by cutting parchment circles to fit in the bottoms. Spray cake pans with a non-stick baking spray. Place circles in the pan bottoms. Cream butter and sugar in bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Add all 4 eggs and beat until incorporated (mixture will look grainy), about 3 minutes. Scrape sides and bottom. Sift together dry ingredients.
Add alternately with buttermilk beginning and ending with dry. Stir in apple butter and zest. Divide batter between prepared pans. Place pans in preheated oven. Bake for 40 minutes or until pale brown and top springs back when touched.
Cool in pans for 10 minutes.
Remove from pans, peel paper from bottoms, and cool completely on cake racks. Place one cake top side down on a cake plate. Spread with a generous amount of frosting. Top with second layer; frost sides and top swirling decoratively with remaining frosting. Refrigerate leftovers.
Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting
2 8 0z packages of cream cheese, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
4 TB unsalted butter
¼ tsp salt
4-5 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 tsp fresh orange zest
Combine brown sugar, butter, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat until well mixed.
Beat in cream cheese until smooth. Add the powdered sugar cup by cup until the frosting is of a spreadable consistency.
Stir in orange zest.
If you'd like to contact Janine Washle, just email her at email@example.com
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CloverFields Farm & Kitchen
Hardin Springs Area
Big Clifty, KY 42712
Janine Washle and her family live at the Cloverfields Farm and Kitchen in Big Clifty, Kentucky in Hardin County. CloverFields Farm & Kitchen, part of a century old farmstead, is our home and business. The McGuffin house, the original farmhouse, is a registered state landmark. CloverFields Farm has a prosperous farming history. They are continuing this rural story in their own unique way by the addition of CloverFields Kitchen a place to explore the past through food and merge it with our modern lifestyles.