Apple pie is associated with mom’s kitchen and happy times, but there are plenty
of other tasty choices in the traditional American apple dessert repertoire.
Since today’s home cooks often opt for desserts that are easy and quick, it
seems to me that many moms prepare other apple desserts more frequently than
“An old fashioned American dessert that’s perfect for the modern mom
is the rustic apple brown Betty, an American original dating back to the 19th
century,” writes Amy Traverso in The Apple Lover’s Cookbook.
“Like many recipes
from that period, it’s a testament to economy, turning apples and some stale
bread into a sweet, nutty, and coy fruit dessert that takes very little time to
To prepare it, Traverso makes bread crumbs in a food
processor, adds chopped walnuts and toasts the mixture briefly in melted butter
in a skillet.
She then sprinkles the mixture over sliced apples cooked in
maple syrup and water, and bakes the dessert until it bubbles.
makes a richer apple bread pudding from cubes of Italian bread mixed with
caramelized apple pieces, then baked in a batter of eggs, sugar and
half-and-half (cream and milk) flavored with vanilla, cinnamon and salt. She
serves the pudding with a creamy salted caramel sauce.
For my apple bread
pudding, I use halla cubes and sometimes I add raisins and walnuts. To make the
pudding lighter, I whip the egg whites and fold them into the pudding mixture
just before I bake it. When I want a parve bread pudding, I use soy milk or
almond milk to moisten the halla.
Another way to make an easy apple
pudding is to bake the fruit with cooked noodles, eggs and sugar. In Jewish
households such puddings are known as kugels, but noodle puddings are also
popular among other Americans whose families originated in Russia, Poland and
other eastern European countries. I like to enrich my apple noodle kugel with
sour cream and melted butter. (See recipe below.) Apple crisp is a common choice
of home bakers. It is a tasty, easy-to-make dessert composed of apple slices
baked with a sweet, pastry-like topping. Traverso uses her grandmother’s recipe,
in which the apples are covered with a soft, streusel-textured biscuit dough,
drizzled with melted butter and sprinkled with cinnamon before being baked. She
is also fond of oatmeal-topped apple crisp, which she makes with a crumbly,
buttery mixture of rolled oats flavored with brown and white sugar, pecans,
nutmeg and cinnamon.
Melissa Costello, author of The Karma Chow Ultimate
Cookbook, created a healthier apple crisp. She flavors her apples with fresh
ginger and grated orange zest, and enhances her oatmeal topping with toasted
sliced almonds and chopped walnuts. To sweeten the apples she uses agave nectar,
noting that it is lower on the glycemic index than sugar.
She makes the
topping with less fat than usual, substituting grapeseed or walnut oil for the
butter. For those who want a richer topping, she suggests coconut oil as an
WHEN IT’S time for cake, busy home cooks often opt for apple
cakes, as many are easy to make and involve simply adding diced or sliced apples
to a one-bowl cake batter. Traverso even bakes apple brownies, a favorite among
her mother’s friends. There’s no chocolate in them but the cake is very moist
and is baked in a brownie pan. (See recipe below.) Traverso groups apples into
four categories: firm-tart apples such as Granny Smith, which are best in
desserts that need some acidity; firm-sweet apples, such as Golden Delicious,
best for delicate cakes and savory baked dishes; tender-tart ones such as
Jonathan and McIntosh, for eating fresh and also for sauces because they break
down easily; and tender-sweet ones, such as Gala and Fuji, which are eaten fresh
or used in quick-cooking dishes such as pancakes.
A bowl of apples on the
kitchen counter is attractive, but apples keep best in the refrigerator.
Traverso notes that apples should be kept in cold, slightly humid conditions.
She recommends putting the fruit in a paper bag rolled up tight or a loosely
tied plastic bag with holes punched in the sides, and storing them in the
refrigerator’s produce drawer. Although some varieties keep longer than others,
most should keep at least two weeks.
Faye Levy is the author of
APPLE-CINNAMON NOODLE KUGEL WITH SOUR CREAM
This kugel is delicately sweet, rich
in flavor and easy to make. I prefer to make it with sweet, tender apples, but
if you have apples that are somewhat tart, you can increase the amount of sugar.
When I am using firm apples, I saute them briefly in part of the butter before
adding them to the kugel mixture in order to soften them slightly and make sure
they will be tender enough when the kugel is baked. If you like, serve the kugel
with sour cream.
Makes 8 servings
400 gr. (14 ounces) medium egg noodles
pinch of salt
3 Gala, Fuji or Golden Delicious apples (total about 700 gr. or
4 Tbsp. (55 gr. or 2 ounces) melted butter
1 cup sour cream
6 Tbsp. sugar, or to taste
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1⁄2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Grease a 33- x 22- x 5-cm (13- x 9- x 2-inch)
baking dish. Cook noodles in a large pot of boiling salted water until barely
tender, about 5 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain again
Transfer noodles to a large bowl. Separate noodles with your
fingers. Add 3 Tbsp. melted butter and a pinch of salt and mix well. Stir in
sour cream, eggs, 2 Tbsp. sugar and vanilla.
Mix remaining sugar with 1
Peel apples, halve, core and cut in thin
slices. Mix half the apples with the noodle mixture.
Add half of
noodle mixture to greased baking dish. Top with remaining apples in an even
layer and sprinkle them with the cinnamon mixture. Top with remaining
noodle mixture and spread gently to cover apples. Sprinkle with 1⁄2 teaspoon
cinnamon, then with remaining 1 Tbsp. melted butter.
Cover dish and bake
for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until set. Serve
hot or warm.
APPLE BROWNIES This recipe is from The Apple Lover’s
Author Amy Traverso writes, “This is such an easy recipe to
make: a great standby for those days when you want a sweet treat without a lot
of fuss, or when you remember at 9 p.m. that you volunteered to make dessert for
tomorrow’s bake sale.” Any firm-sweet apple variety, such as Golden
Delicious, works well.
Makes 12 bars
1 cup (145 gr. or 5 ounces)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1⁄2 tsp. baking powder
1⁄2 tsp. salt
1⁄4 tsp. baking soda
110 gr. (4 ounces) salted butter, melted and cooled, plus
more for greasing pan
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1⁄2 cup (60 gr. or 2 ounces)
2 large (about 454 gr. or 1 pound) firm-sweet apples, peeled,
cored, and cut into 1.25-cm (1⁄2-inch) cubes
Preheat oven to 180ºC (350ºF) and
set a rack to the middle position. Generously butter a 28- x 18-cm (11- by
7-inch) baking dish.
In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, cinnamon,
baking powder, salt and baking soda. In the bowl of a standing mixer at high
speed or using a hand-held mixer, beat together the butter, sugar, and egg until
pale, about 2 minutes. Add the walnuts and apples and stir by hand until evenly
combined. Add the flour mixture and stir until combined, another 30
Spread the batter in the prepared pan and bake until golden
brown and slightly firm to the touch, 40 to 50 minutes. Let cool on a rack for
30 minutes, then cut into 12 bars and transfer to a serving platter.