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Apple Kuchen

Apple Kuchen

Base and apple chunks ready for topping

It’s an old saying that pretty much everyone loves motherhood and apple pie, and I’d include myself in that list – particularly since there have been two back to back crop failures for the blueberry crop around our camp up north – otherwise as a good northern canadian lad I’d be endorsing motherhood and blueberry pie but definitely not turning down apple pie.

More realistically, in our home apple pie usually takes a back seat to apple crisp – which is so easy to throw together and is truly a great desert.  But, Apple Kuchen also figures prominently among our favorite deserts because it’s a great desert in its own right and is almost as quick to prepare as apple crisp.

Whole grain apple kuchen

Partly devoured pan of whole barley base apple kuchen

For those who haven’t had it before it is an cake base topped with apples and a sugar and cinnamon topping.  Since home ground whole grain flours are the principal ones that get used in our kitchen the base is usually whole barley or whole wheat – both of which work great and give more substance and flavour compared to white flours.

So next time you are looking for a great desert give Apple Kuchen a try.

Click on the post title to expand and see the recipe.

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Quick Apple Fritters – whole grain (or not)

Homemade Apple Fritters frying

What was it Homer Simpson used to say…. MMMMMMMMMMMMMM Donuts.  For me that is more likely to be MMMMMMMMMMM Apple Fritters,  so it’s probably not surprising that I’ve played with dozens of recipes over the years  – most yeast versions.  But this quick one is the one I keep coming back to – it’s fantastic AND as a quick donut it’s a snap to produce.  While I usually make them using fresh whole ground flour they work just as nicely with white flour.

The other nice thing is this recipe is that it scales wonderfully – from 1x to about 5x which is about the maximum I can manage to make with my deep fryer before it makes sense to do up another batch of batter – but given that takes all of five minutes it’s really no hardship.  So get out your apples, heat up the oil and get ready to enjoy.

Click on the post title to expand for the whole recipe.

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Whole Wheat Apple Fritters – Fall Fantastic

DSC06000Try these and it will forever ruin your experience with donut shop fritters, they are awesome.  Now, they aren’t quite as easy as just tossing the ingredients for bread into the bread machine and walking away, but if you have a handle on the processing steps they don’t take that much more time and the result at the end of the process is well worth it.

Start by making the whole wheat dough.  This is a rich sweet dough that is oh so sticky.  As such it’s best mixed in a stand mixer or in the bread machine on the dough cycle.

Apple fritter filing

Apple fritter filing

While the dough is going through the cycle – which takes about an hour and a half – prepare your apple filling.  If you can choose apples with a crisp firm flesh – those hold together best – but I find I’m often grabbing bags of softer fleshed apples we’ve gleaned and put down.  Irrespective of the type of apple don’t cook them into a mush – you just want to soften them and get them to absorb some of the cinnamon caramel greatness.

When rolling out the dough make sure your work surface is well floured to keep the dough from sticking.   Roll the dough out into a rectangle about 1/2″ thick, and then put the apple mixture on one half and fold the other segment over the filling.

Cut up dough and filling ready for forming

Cut up dough and filling ready for forming

Now, in order to get that structure of dough and apple that fritters are known for you need to chop the material up cut on the diagonal about 3/4″ apart, and then cut the opposite diagonal in the other direction.  Then take a scoop of the cut up dough and apple mix and firm it into a solid ball about 1″ thick.

Allow the fritters to double in bulk and then fry them up.  When they are still warm dip one side in the glaze you can make up while the fritters are rising.

My favorite glaze is made using my homemade apple cider syrup which really punches up the apple flavor, but maple syrup or vanilla are also great options.

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Goodell Bonanza – the best homestead apple peeler

In good years I tend to pick put up a lot of apples – several hundred pounds – and much of those need to be peeled and cut.

Goodell Bonanza about to start peeling an apple

Goodell Bonanza about to start peeling an apple

Over the years I’ve used a few different styles of apple peeler including the modern hand cranked unit that seems ubiquitous – and frankly for it’s low price is a pretty good deal.  What really sucks on it is the attachment – suction cup stink.

I’ve also used the Reading 78 peeler which is a design dating back to 1878.  It does and ok job but at the end of the day isn’t in my view significantly better than the much cheaper modern design.

Neither of these really are production units but they do get the job done.

But, let’s be honest,  when the opportunity presents to pick and process bushels of apples the processing side needs to be fast and easy and that is where the Goodell Bonanza apple peeler comes in.  I think this has to be the best homestead apple peeler by far.  It peels and cores an apple in about a second and then is ready to go for another.  That type of production rate makes taking advantage of the opportunity to pick and process loads of apples realistic.

One second later the apple is peeled and the coring is nearly complete

One second later the apple is peeled and the coring is nearly complete

Perhaps then it’s reasonable for these units to routinely sell for many hundreds of dollars – nothing comparable has been produced in many decades and these are awesome pieces of kit.

But,  here’s where having some skills can really come in handy.  I was able to pick my Bonanza up for a fraction of the price that they usually change hands for because of a couple of cracks in parts.  I know that these faults scared away most other bidders – but I was confident that I could braze any broken cast iron parts or machine new ones if the cracks grew.  As it turns out that hasn’t been necessary even with the heavy use the unit has seen.

Already this season three bushels of early apples have been passed through this unit and since this is a great apple year – compensating maybe for the complete blueberry crop failure and the near failure of the strawberry crop in our area – its only the start having the Bonanza makes the process not just reasonable but pleasurable.

 

 

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Whole Wheat Apple Braid

If you make bread you quickly come to understand just how versatile a good standard dough, such as this whole wheat bread recipe, can be.

Whole Wheat Apple Braid

Whole Wheat Apple Braid

You can make bread of course, but we’ve also covered how you can turn it into standard buns, and fancy buns, cinnamon buns, bagels, pizza, and now fruit braids.

One of the reasons why this is such an attractive proposition in my mind is that I can produce a single batch of bread dough and split it to produce two very different products… usually something like buns and then something sweet, and fruit braids are a great option to keep in your baking pocket.

Apple Braid right out of the oven

Apple Braid right out of the oven

Really you roll out the dough divide it into thirds, and cut the outer two segments so that they can be braided over the fruit mounded in the center.

In my house the fruit filling often is apples and cinnamon with a bit of sugar in large part because I tend to harvest and process so many apples.

Give it a try when you next make a batch of bead dough.

 

 

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Apple spice loaf – with whole grain flour

Apple see a lot of use in my home.  Our fall harvests from the neighborhood trees in a good year can be substantial.  The best of these are kept for fresh eating, seconds are peeled, sliced and dried or  frozen for pies, apple braids and the like, those that are a bit softer get transformed into apple sauce that we can, and finally the really bruised ones get turned into apple cider on the homestead press.

Apple Spice Loaf with Barley Flour

Apple Spice Loaf with Barley Flour

So we end up using a lot of apple sauce through the season, and this apple spice loaf is one of my favorite recipes. It’s a quick loaf – so it honestly doesn’t take more than five minutes to mix the ingredients, put it into a silicon loaf pan (which means I don’t even need to take the time to butter and flour the pan) making it a cinch to pull together.  In spite of being so easy – it is a lovely loaf the blend of apple and spices is lovely.  While the loaf is a great accompaniment for a nice cup of tea or coffee it most often serves as a bread substitute in our lunches, adding variety to our brown bags.  Made with whole grain flour – and I usually use whole barley flour for quick breads – it fills you up and keeps you satiated.

I think this is a pretty good example of better living today – you get a great rich filling and wholesome loaf, add diversity to your meals that sees you content to skip the cafeteria line for lunches and uses some of the bounty around us.  It is also a great example of how easily all this can be pulled together.  It honestly takes more time to wash the bowl than it does to prepare the batter and slide it into the oven.

Of course, you don’t need to use your own apple sauce or even flour you’ve produced at home to get a very nice product.  So take five minutes to make this apple spice loaf and add some great baking to your lunches.