This tastes like the absolute best apple pie you ever drank! Here is how I preserve the goodness of apples laced with sweet spices.
After the first of the crisp fall apples have started to soften, I love to have a sip of this for dessert on a cold winter’s night. You won’t waste anything here — all the apples eventually find their way into more delicious desserts.
Buy the tastiest fall apples you can find, but if they’re fresh, even windfalls and “seconds” are fine, because you can cut around any damaged spots. What really matters is the flavor. A mix is good: Fuji, Gala, Red Delicious and Honey Crisp, if you can afford them. If you are so fortunate to have apples from the Northeast, these have more flavor than what we can grow here in Texas.
Scout out some big jars. I noticed the half-gallon jars available this summer. If you can’t find or beg gallon jars, you can order them from ULINE. It’s an investment, but you’ll have them forever.
Be sure to cover the mouth of the jar with plastic wrap under the lid so the lid doesn’t corrode. And don’t even consider plastic gallon jugs from pickles or mustard; you never get the smell/taste out and everything will be ruined. Yields 1 gallon.
• 6 to 8 chopped large apples, or more if they’re small (you’ll want at least 3 quarts of chopped apples)
• 2 sticks of cinnamon, or about 4 inches
• 1 tbsp whole cloves
• 1 tbsp whole allspice
• 1 tbsp whole coriander
• 1 whole nutmeg, broken with a hammer into 3 or 4 pieces
• small, 1-by-1-inch chunk of fresh ginger, or 1 tsp ginger puree
• 2 cups brown sugar
• 2/5 bottle of gold rum (double bottle)
1. Peel the apples, core and cut into half-inch wedges.
2. Put them into a one-gallon glass jar or two half-gallon jars, interspersing the whole spices.
3. Dump the sugar on top of the apple-spice mixture, and then pour in the rum. (If you’re using the 1/2-gallon jars, divide as you go.)
You can make another jar with just the cores and — if the apples are organic — the peels as well. I usually make as many jars as I can; the cordial makes nice holiday gifts, poured into empty wine bottles that I scrubbed the labels from and re-labeled in a festive manner.
4. Cover the top of each jar with a doubled layer of plastic wrap and then put the lids on. You need a tight seal.
5. Turn the jar(s) upside down, leave it a day, turn it right side up, wait a day and then repeat again until the sugar is completely dissolved.
6. Put the jar(s) back in a dark cupboard and leave it at least a month.
7. After a month has passed, strain out the apples and reserve them. Serve the apple cordial at room temperature in small cordial glasses. You’ll also find yourself adding this to other apple desserts, maybe a drizzle on Apple Bread Pudding?
The rum-soaked apples can be put into the food processor and pulsed to make a coarse applesauce which will keep for months in the refrigerator. It’s delicious by itself, maybe warmed up, and even better with a scoop of ice cream.
Here’s my favorite way to recycle those spicy rum-soaked apples.
• 4 large eggs
• 1-1/2 cups vegetable oil (grapeseed, sunflower or a nut oil)
• 2 tsp vanilla
• 1-3/4 cups organic sugar
• 1 cup whole wheat flour
• 1cup A/P flour (or I use all King Arthur white whole wheat – 2 cups)
• 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
• 2 tsp baking soda
• 1 tsp sea salt
• 1+ tbsp cinnamon
• 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
• 1-1/2 cups chunky applesauce made from apple cordial apples (see above)
• 1-1/2 cups pecans
• Optional: raisins and a bit of coarse turbinado sugar
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. This is easy with your food processor; you could also use a hand or stand mixer: Put the eggs in the work bowl, pulse a couple times, then add the oil and process 30 seconds.
3. Add the vanilla, pulse and then the sugar. Process another 30 seconds. You should have a foamy, light yellow mixture.
4. Measure all the dry ingredients into a bowl: flour, leavening, spices. Add these all at once, pulse a couple times, then add the applesauce, pulse a couple times and finally the pecans. Process another 30 seconds. The applesauce and pecans will nearly disappear into the batter.
You can add more if you want big pieces. If you add the optional raisins, just pulse once or twice or stir in by hand.
5. Line a 9-inch-by-13-inch pan with parchment. Turn the batter into the pan and give it a quick shimmy and a tap to level out. Sprinkle very lightly with the turbinado sugar, if you like, for a touch of crunch.
6. Bake about one hour. Ovens differ: watch after 45 minutes; when the cake is done, it will spring back from a light touch and start to pull away from the side of the pan. Be patient! Let it cool to just warm before cutting.
I don’t frost this cake. It’s already so sweet with all those apples, I think more sugar would curl my teeth. If you must, you must, but keep it light. A spoonful of whipped cream, labenah or crème fraiche works better for me.
Wendy Akin is a happy to share her years of traditional skills knowledge. Over the years, she’s earned many state fair ribbons for pickles, relishes, preserves and special condiments, and even a few for breads. Read all of Wendy’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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