As sweet as apple pie

A new apple season is here, offering a crisp, sweet edge to fall meals.

Apples (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Love of apples – and apple pie – seems eternal and universal. The sweet scent of baking apples, mixed with cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg, automatically brings back memories. The flavor of apple pie inspires variations such as apple-pie cookies, apple-pie salad and apple-pie soup.
Baked in a pie plate, an apple-pie cake looks, smells and tastes like its namesake. An apple stack cake piles up pie-like apple butter filling (using dried apples) between fluffy layers.
This salad features a brown-butter vinaigrette and a pumpkin seed streusel. Adapted from a recipe from Ginger’s Kitchen, a blog at
Streusel: ✔ 1⁄4 cup all-purpose flour
✔ 1⁄4 cup raw pumpkin seeds ✔ 1⁄3 cup rolled oats ✔ 1 heaping Tbsp. brown sugar
✔ 1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt ✔ 3 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Vinaigrette: ✔ 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter ✔ 1 small shallot, minced ✔ Juice of half a lemon (about 2 Tbsp.) ✔ A few pinches finely chopped fresh marjoram or fresh thyme ✔ Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Salad: ✔ 1 head red leaf lettuce, washed and torn into bite-size pieces ✔ 1 sweet-tart apple, cored and thinly sliced ✔ 55 gr. fresh chevre
For the pumpkin seed streusel: Preheat oven to 180ºC. Combine the flour, pumpkin seeds, oats, brown sugar, salt and 3 Tbsp. of butter (cut into small pieces) in a small bowl. Use your fingers to blend the ingredients, until you’re left with large streusely crumbles.
Spread the streusel on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake for 20- 30 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp. Cool slightly.
Make the brown butter vinaigrette: Melt the remaining 4 Tbsp. of butter in a small pan over medium-low heat. Watch the butter carefully – when the foaming has subsided and the butter has started to brown, add the minced shallot and soften for one minute. Remove from heat and transfer to a small bowl. Whisk in the lemon juice, a sprinkling of fresh marjoram or thyme and season to taste with salt and pepper.
To assemble the salad: Toss the lettuce, sliced apple and chevre with a few Tbsp. of the brown butter vinaigrette. Add dressing as needed until leaves are nicely coated. Sprinkle liberally with the pumpkin seed streusel.
Cooking time: Depends on how big you want your stack. This recipe makes one 23- cm. cake with six stacks. Three stacks were baked simultaneously for 10 to 12 minutes. The filling (recipe below) takes about an hour. Allow 24 hours for the cake to chill in the refrigerator.
This recipe comes from the September- October issue of Cooking with Paula Deen. According to the magazine, stack cakes were traditional in southern Appalachia when folks gathered for special occasions. Tradition says the number of layers in a cake was a measure of the popularity of the hosting family.
✔ 1⁄2 cup all-vegetable shortening
✔ 1⁄2 cup sugar ✔ 1⁄2 cup buttermilk ✔ 1⁄3 cup molasses ✔ 1 egg, slightly beaten
✔ 1 tsp. vanilla extract ✔ 31⁄2 cups all-purpose flour ✔ 1 tsp. ground ginger ✔ 1⁄2 tsp. b cm. cake with six stacks. Thrlt ✔ 1⁄2 tsp. ground cinnamon ✔ Pinch of nutmeg ✔ Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 180ºC. Spray six (9-inch) cake pans with non-stick cooking spray. Line bottoms of pans with parchment paper, and spray parchment paper with cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, beat shortening and sugar at medium speed with a mixer until creamy. Add buttermilk, molasses, egg and vanilla, beating well.
In a large bowl, combine flour, ginger, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Make a well in center of flour mixture. Add shortening mixture, stirring just until combined.
On a lightly floured surface, form dough into a log; cut into six equal portions. Place one portion in each prepared pan and use fingers to lightly pat dough to edges of pans. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks. Cake will have the consistency of a gingerbread cookie.
Place one cake layer on a serving plate or cake stand. Spread with about 3⁄4 cup warm fruit butter filling (recipe below).
Repeat procedure with remaining layers and fruit butter filling, stacking each on previous layer. Do not spread fruit butter filling on top layer. Cover and refrigerate cake for at least 24 hours. Just before serving, dust with confectioners’ sugar.
Appalachian apple butter filling
✔ 4 cups roughly chopped dried apples ✔ 3⁄4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar ✔ 1 tsp. ground ginger ✔ 1 tsp. ground cinnamon ✔ 6 cups apple cider (not juice)
In large saucepan, combine dried fruit and all dry ingredients. Add enough liquid to cover. Bring to a low boil and cook, stirring often, for 45 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes or until cooled slightly. Transfer to the work bowl of a food processor or container of a blender; process until smooth. Use while still warm.
APPLE PIE COOKIES  Makes about 4 dozen
These are soft cookies with a spicy apple flavor. The caramel glaze adds a sweet touch.
Note: To toast walnut pieces, place in a dry non-stick saute pan over medium heat, stirring frequently, until walnuts are fragrant, about 10 minutes. Be careful not to burn them. Cool before chopping.
✔ 1⁄2 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened ✔ 11⁄2 cup light brown sugar, packed ✔ 1 egg ✔ 2 cups all-purpose flour ✔ 1 tsp. baking soda ✔ 1 tsp. cinnamon ✔ 1⁄2 tsp. ground cloves ✔ 1⁄2 tsp. ground nutmeg ✔ 1⁄2 tsp. salt
✔ 1⁄4 cup milk ✔ 1 cup grated apple, from 1 large or 2 small peeled, cored baking apples ✔ 1 cup walnut pieces, toasted and chopped
Caramel glaze
✔ 2 Tbsp. butter or margarine ✔ 2 Tbsp. brown sugar ✔ 3⁄4 cup confectioners’ sugar ✔ 4 tsp. milk
Preheat oven to 180ºC. Beat butter and sugar until fluffy and well blended. Add egg and blend until fully incorporated.
In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt. Add half the mixture to butter mixture, stirring until incorporated, and then add remainder of flour mixture.
Add milk, then gently stir in, using a spatula or wooden spoon, the grated apple and chopped nuts. Drop by rounded tsp. onto a parchment-papercovered cookie sheet.
Bake 10 minutes or until cookies are golden brown. Let cool on rack for a few minutes, then slide the paper, with cookies still on it, from pan to rack and let cookies finish cooling before removing from paper. (An offset spatula works well for this.)
To make caramel glaze: Combine brown sugar and butter in a small pan. Stir and bring to boil over medium heat. Simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add the confectioners’ sugar and half the milk, stirring before adding the rest of the milk, 1 tsp. at a time.
Drizzle over cooled cookies using a fork. Add a little more milk if glaze becomes too thick.
APPLE PIE SOUP  Serves 6 to 8
This is a spiced dessert soup that is best served cold in chilled bowls.
✔ 11⁄2 tsp. cinnamon ✔ 1 tsp. ground cloves ✔ 1 tsp. allspice ✔ 1 tsp. ground nutmeg ✔ 3 cups water ✔ 3 cups apple cider ✔ 4 large Granny Smith apples (or other tart apples), peeled, cored and sliced ✔ 2⁄3 cup raisins ✔ 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice ✔ 4 Tbsp. honey ✔ 2 Tbsp. brandy, optional ✔ 1 cup vanilla yogurt ✔ Apple slices or chopped nuts, for garnish, optional
Combine the spices, water, cider, apple slices and raisins in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on low 6 hours or until apples are quite soft.
Puree the soup using an immersion blender or, if using a regular blender, a partial batch at a time, until all the apple solids and most of the raisins are pureed. Stir in the lemon juice, honey and, if using, the brandy.
Chill several hours. Just before serving, whisk in the vanilla yogurt. Serve in chilled bowls, garnishing with apple slices or chopped nuts, if desired.