If you haven’t gone apple picking (which I had not, ever if my life), I’d highly recommend grabbing a couple good pals and hitting up an orchard ASAP, because it’s pretty much the cutest and funnest (and cheap!) fall activity. This past Sunday, Lora, Agata and I awoke bright and early (and a little bit hungover from The Zombie Bar Crawl) to a beautiful, clear skied 60-degree day that we immediately realized we had to take advantage of.
After hearing good things from friends and coworkers about the Afton Apple Orchard in Hastings, MN, we hopped in the car and drove an easy 40 minutes from Cedar-Riverside in Minneapolis. We were beyond pleased to be greeted not only by stacks on stacks of apple trees (many of which were already picked over, though), but also by hay rides, a petting zoo, and a half-dozen “face in the hole” photo ops–every cheesy and stereotypical thing I love about this season.
While Agata and I scrounged for Red Baron apples–sweet red apples that are perfect both for eating plain and baking–Lora snapped some beautiful pictures, as she always does. When it was her turn to pick (she grabbed some Honey Golds), I started brainstorming ideas for what sort of delicious treats I could whip up later that week. Agata and Lora did the same. Here’s what we concocted:
Adapted from: HER MIND. This recipe was made up on the spot with Agata’s leftover fridge ingredients. What a crafty genius.
What you need: Chopped apples (duh), tomatoes, peppers, yellow onion, green onion, crushed walnuts, lemon juice, pepper, chilli powder (to taste)
How to make it: Mix it up and dip yo’ chips. AND THAT’S IT.
What it tastes like: “Pretty tasty! It’s fruity and spicy…very crunchy.”
Adapted from: The Smitten Kitchen
What you need:
Dough: 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, just softened, cut in 1/2-inch pieces, 3 1/2 tablespoons chilled water
Filling: 2 pounds apples (Lora used Honey Gold) peeled, cored (save peels and cores), and sliced, 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, 5 tablespoons sugar
Glaze: 1/2 cup sugar
How to make it: Lora pretty much just followed the original recipe. It worked out well–just look at her picture. I’m very sad that a piece of it isn’t in my belly right now.
What it tastes like: “Delightfully sweet without being overpoweringly sugary.”
Adapted from: Allrecipes.com
*Original recipe for two pans (30 servings), this recipe for one (15 servings)
What you need:
Bread: 1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup butter, melted, 1 cup white sugar, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt, 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1-1/2 large very ripe bananas, mashed, 1 apple (cubed), chopped walnuts
Crumbly topping: 1/4 cup packed brown sugar, 1/4 cup white sugar, 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon and 1-1/2 teaspoons butter, apple slices for garnish
How to make it:
1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease 7×3-inch loaf pan.
2) In a bowl, whisk together 1-1/3 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, the baking soda, and salt. In a separate mixing bowl, beat the melted butter with 2 cups of sugar until smooth, and mix in the eggs, followed by the Greek yogurt and vanilla extract. Stir in the flour mixture just until incorporated.
3) Fold in the bananas, apples, and chopped walnuts. There should be small chunks of banana visible in the batter. Pour into the pan.
4) Mix the brown sugar, 1/4 cup of white sugar, cinnamon, 2 tablespoons flour, and 1-1/2 tablespoons of softened butter together in a bowl until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle half the crumb topping over each loaf. Garnish each loaf with apple slices and a few walnut pieces.
5) Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, then remove and cover each pan with aluminum foil. Return to oven, and bake an additional 20-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaves comes out clean. Cool before serving.
What it tastes like: Deliciously dense, but not overwhelmingly so. The extra sugary crumbly topping gives it a nice contrasting crunch.
Becky + Beth (surprise apple week guest!): Oatmeal Apple Cinnamon Cookies
Adapted from: Joy the Baker
What you need: (Makes ~20 cookies) 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter (softened), 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar (packed), 1 large egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 1/4 cup oats, old fashioned or quick cooking, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, scant 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, generous pinch fresh grated nutmeg, 3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, 1 medium apple, peeled, diced small (Red Baron), 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
How to make it: Obey this recipe.
What they taste like: “Delicious!” “Amazing!” “Nice teamwork!” “They even seem healthy!” are all things our co-workers said today.