Tuesday, October 13, 2015

"Astonishing Apples" - Apple Crumble

Date my husband made this recipe:  October 2, 2015

Astonishing Apples by Joan Donatelle
Published by:  Minnesota Historical Society Press
ISBN:  978-0-87351-965-6
Purchased at Common Good Books (owned by Minnesota's own Garrison Keillor)
Recipe:  Apple Crumble – p. 148

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine got married at the Minnesota Harvest Apple Orchard  in Jordan, MN.  The day before the wedding, it poured rain all day long and it was not looking good for the home team.  Honestly—seems like all the rain that hadn't fallen in a while was stored up and dumped all at once.

Happily for all, the sun came out the next day turning that apple orchard into one beautiful setting for a beautiful wedding.  Whew, right? 

Given where we were, the bride and groom gave each family in attendance an empty apple bag with instructions to go picking.  Although I was game to go outside to pick apples from the rain-sodden groves, someone went and filled a wooden crate with apples and put them near the wedding cake so we only had to go a few feet to get some.

So we had all these apples and now what, right?  Well, I had had my eye on this cookbook, published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press, and so off I went to Common Good Books in St. Paul to snap it off the shelf.  And when I brought it home, my husband, Andy a/k/ "The Pie Guy,"took over and started looking at recipes he wanted to make.  And when he got to the "Apple Crumble," it was all over but the crying.

Still, this cookbook has a bushel of sweet and savory items.  I wanted to make a savory as well as a sweet dish but we ran out of time.  Shame that, as there were appetizers, salads, sides, soups and sandwiches and main dishes containing apples, some of which sounded really good while others elicited a "huh," code for "I don't think so." 

Tempting as some of them were, there was really no doubt that we would be going with a dessert and it also became clear that Andy was going to be the one doing the cooking and that was fine by me since I made an "Espresso Swirl Coffee Cake" just days before.

Well by the time we decided what to make it was Thursday night and on Friday, October 2nd, we were heading to Chicago to visit with friends.  No worries.  Andy got up early on Friday (he took the day off) and made the dish before we headed out of town.  And so we brought our friends this "Apple Crumble" as well as some of the "Espresso Swirl Coffee Cake" and of course, we inhaled all of it over the course of a few days (along with a couple bottles of wine that we always stop to get from one of their neighborhood liquor stores).

Like me, Andy sometimes plays a little fast and loose with the recipes and so he used regular sugar instead of the "raw or natural cane or Demerara sugar" that the recipe called for because he was not heading to a grocery store at dawn-o-clock.  And he also skipped the "flaxseed" that was to be added to the flour, sugar and oat mixture.  And lastly, he skipped the pecans as they were for the topping only.  How these ingredients would have tasted we will never know but his end product was delicious so we didn't care.

And now, a brief mention of the Minnesota Historical Society Press, publisher of this cookbook.  The press has published recently several fruit and vegetable cookbooks, all by local Minnesota authors and I am on my way to collect the whole set:  Rhubarb Renaissance by Kim Ode (who I know); Smitten with Squash by Amanda Paa (whom I've met); Sweet Corn Spectacular by Marie Porter (which I've used and also given as a gift); Modern Maple by Teresa Marrone (to be acquired); Homemade with Honey by Sue Doeden (to be acquired) and Astonishing Apples.  These books are all part of the Northern Plate series and I'm happy the Minnesota Historical Society Press is publishing these books, showcasing foods of the Upper Midwest.  You can find these books at the Minnesota History Center, Common Good Books or any Barnes and Noble bookseller (online or in-store).  Other local gift stores like Patina and Bibelot also carry select titles.

"And now, for your eating enjoyment, all the way from Jordan, Minnesota, please welcome Apple Crumble!" [crowd goes wild]

Apple Crumble – serves 16 – can be made ahead and frozen
1 ½ cups raw or natural cane of Demerara sugar, divided
2 ½ cups old-fashioned oats
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ cup ground flaxseed
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into half-inch cubes
4 pounds tart apples, peeled, cored, each cut into 12 slices (Ann's Note:  we have no idea what kind of apples we got at this wedding but they were likely sweeter than this recipe calls for.  Not that this made any difference to the end product because it was fabulous!)
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup chopped pecans
1 quart vanilla ice cream (if desired)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish.  In a large bowl, stir together 1 cup sugar, oats, flours and flax seed.  Add butter and mix into the flour with your fingertips.  In another bowl, toss the apples with lemon juice, cinnamon, and remaining ½ cup sugar.  Transfer apple mixture to the baking dish and scoop flour mixture on top.  Bake for about 50 minutes, until the apples are bubbling and the topping is golden brown.  Sprinkle with pecans and return to the oven for 5 more minutes.  Spoon warm crumble into bowls and serve with a scoop of ice cream.

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