There is something in the air even in early September. Summer is not quite over, and yet fall is not quite ready to emerge. It is a time of transition between the seasons. The mornings are cool and crisp (and lately rather foggy) and the afternoons are warm. I used to call the dewy, cool air smell that is present on these mornings “the first day of school smell” (or “the beginning of school smell”). We send our daughter to school in layers, so she will be warm in the morning but cool enough in the afternoon when we pick her up from school.
Last week when some friends sent Chad home from work with a huge bucket of apples my first thought was to make some baked apple goodies….although I was also pretty much resigned to the fact that this was not really going to happen. You see, Chad has a major aversion to baked apples with cinnamon, so I have never actually made apple butter or apple pie. Sadly, when he was a child he saw a friend throw up apple pie, and since then he has not been able to even smell baked apples without feeling like he, too, will throw up.
Maybe the transitions happening around us aren’t only with the seasons, because the unthinkable happened this weekend…Chad reluctantly agreed to let me do some baking while he was out for his 15 mile run (yes, he really ran 15 miles). So with the crisp pre-autumn air blowing through the back door, I happily took him up on that offer and commenced with the apple baking. And as the aroma of baked apples mingled with the crisp air outside, I felt like I was taking part in a welcoming song to autumn.
The fruits of my labor resulted in apple butter and an apple pie.
- 4 large apples, cored and diced (keep skin on)
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Add all ingredients but the vanilla to a pot and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat and simmer on low/medium heat for 45 – 60 minutes, until the apples are really soft and the liquid is gone.
- Puree the mixture with the vanilla in a blender until smooth.
- 8-10 medium – large apples, peeled, cored, and diced into thin even pieces (enough for 6 cups of apple slices)
- ¼ c sugar + ¼ cup light brown sugar (add more if apples are more tart than sweet)
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 1 ½ Tbsp cornstarch
- 1 double recipe vegan pie crust
- Mix together the sugar, cinnamon, and cornstarch. Gently stir into apples until well coated.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
- Roll out top and bottom crusts, making the top one about 50% bigger. Press bottom crust in pie plate.
- Place apples in bottom pie crust. Cover with top crust, flute edges together, and use a knife to make several steam vents.
- Bake at 450 for 10 minutes and then turn the oven down to 350. Continue baking for 35 to 45 minutes
- The pie is done when the crust is golden and the contents are bubbling. Insert a fork gently into a steam vent to see if the apples are tender. If the crust is done but the apples are not, turn the oven down to 300 and bake another 10 or 15 minutes, until the apples are tender.
The baking continued throughout the weekend and even into the early part of this week. We still had enough apple butter left over, so I made some mini-pastries using apple butter and crescent rolls. I simply spread the apple butter on the open crescent roll and then rolled it up, sealing the edges as much as possible. Ironically although Chad still can’t stand the smell of apple butter cooking, he does like these apple butter crescent rolls. Perhaps it is truly a season of transitions.
Mmmmm…it smells (and tastes) like autumn already.