What have you been doing on these wonderful Autumn days? We’ve been visiting apple orchards, a pumpkin patch, and taking many photos of lovely, colorful Fall leaves! I’ve been taking many, many photos of apples and apple orchards, pumpkins, gorgeous leaves and more so I can offer wonderful Fall prints and notecards on my online store at www.breathebeautyartandphotographybyerin.artfire.com.
Yesterday we visited a second apple orchard in Ashland County, Ohio, near Jeromesville. We took a jaunt out to Scenic Ridge Fruit Farm. The most apples they had in season were the Fiji apples. I had vaguely remembered that apple name, but was unsure of it. A medium to small size apple, it’s faded red and white colors were very pretty. I knew I wanted to bake, so I wasn’t sure if it was tart or sweet. We quickly wiped off one and tasted it. Very sweet and yummy!!! We proceeded to pick one and a half bushels (3 big baskets-only one basket of 1/2 bushel is pictured above). The kids once again had so much fun choosing apples and I loved photographing them and the apples too. At one of their nearby ponds we also saw two large swans! The day was perfect. Upon coming home, I was wondering what a fuji apple was and so today I’ve done my research. The figi apple came to the United States in the 1980s and is a cross between our beloved red delicious and the heirloom variety of Virginia Rawls Jennet (or Ralls Genet technically) made by the Japanese in the 1930s. They are such a pretty color and are much denser, sweeter, and crisper than most apples. They also have a much larger shelf life, even without refrigeration! With refrigeration, they can last 5-6 months! This was great news as I’ll have plenty of time to bake them all. I’ll try to share my recipes and baking trials with you here, but this is a recipe I found that I will try first!! Doesn’t it sound yummy???
Fuji Apple Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Why Fujis? This not-too-sugary cake (inspired by carrot cake) is best when made with fairly sweet apples. Plus, it’s important to choose an apple variety with a sturdy structure so that it won’t break down during baking. Fuji apples fill the bill on both counts.
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg or ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons bourbon, apple brandy, or rum (optional)
- 1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
- 2 medium Fuji or Gala apples (13 to 14 ounces total), peeled, halved, cored, cut into 1/3-inch cubes
- 1 1/2 cups finely chopped pecans (about 6 ounces)
- 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- 3 cups powdered sugar (measured, then sifted)
- Coarsely chopped toasted pecans (for garnish)
- 2 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high sides
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high sides. Line bottom of each pan with parchment paper round. Whisk first 7 ingredients in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat 1 cup butter in large bowl until fluffy. Add both sugars and beat until smooth. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla, then bourbon, if desired (mixture may look curdled). Add flour mixture to egg mixture in 3 additions alternately with applesauce in 2 additions, beating until blended after each addition. Stir in apples and pecans. Divide batter between cake pans; smooth tops.
Bake cakes until tester inserted into center of each comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Transfer cakes to racks and cool in pans 15 minutes. Cut around pan sides to loosen cakes. Invert cakes onto racks; peel off parchment paper. Place another rack atop 1 cake and invert again so that cake is rounded side up. Repeat with second cake. Cool completely. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap each cake in plastic and store at room temperature.
Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in vanilla extract and pinch of salt. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating until frosting is smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.
Using long serrated knife, trim off rounded tops of cakes to make level; brush off any loose crumbs. Transfer 1 cake to platter, trimmed side up. Drop half of frosting (about 1 1/2 cups) by spoonfuls atop cake. Spread frosting evenly to edges of cake. Top with second cake, trimmed side down. Drop remaining frosting by spoonfuls onto top of cake, leaving sides of cake plain. Spread frosting to top edges of cake, swirling and creating peaks, if desired. Sprinkle with pecans. Let cake stand at room temperature 1 hour to allow frosting to set slightly. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and refrigerate. Let cake stand at room temperature at least 2 hours before serving.
Visiting the Apple Orchard
Another favorite part of the Autumn Season for my family is anything that has to do with APPLES! Yesterday, Tim and I took the kids to Mitchell’s Apple Orchard (a family owned orchard in our small town) and we picked our own apples. They gave each of the kids a small little apple bag so they could each fill their own. We trodded back down the lane to the fruit orchard, watching our three-year old’s glee at picking apples from the tree. Red delicious apples were falling all around us, literally. They were underfoot, falling down, and in the trees. With the suns rays shining down onto the apples though the leaves it was almost like we had stepped into a fairytale from a distant past time. We also chose some granny smith, which are my son’s favorite (not sure if because of the taste or because he loves that color green). We were the only ones in the orchard and we felt like we could skip around between the rows and discover all that nature provides. I loved seeing my children so excited over something so quaint as a fruit orchard. They also had to run over to the grape vines (mostly done for the season) and see if they could pick a grape. It was again like shopping at the “nature store” and all of it was provided to us for free from our glorious Earth! How can nature produce such colorful, bold, sweet candy? We had so much fun during this hour, discovering nature, loving the outdoors, taking photos, laughing. And we did it all for $6 (the price of the 1/2 bushel bag that we also filled to bring home). The kids started eating their apples as soon as we got home. I was pleasantly elated that they were excited to eat apples instead of asking for candy. Life doesn’t get much better than making these kinds of memories. I am sure we will go back at least one more time soon. For now, I’ve got lots of apples to bake with. Tonight I made an apple cake that we will eat after dinner with vanilla ice cream.
Apples are great raw and cut-up with peanut butter. They can always be used in fruit salad. And there are a million baking recipes where sweet apples become soft cinnamon flavored delights. Try the link below for many apple recipes and start baking!
3/4 cup (75 grams) chopped walnuts or pecans
1 pound (454 grams) apples
1-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 cup (195 grams) all purpose flour
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk
1/3 cup (50 grams) raisins
1/3 cup (85 grams) apricot preserves or jam
|Apple Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place rack in the center of the oven. Butter or spray with a non stick cooking spray, an 8 inch (20 cm) square baking pan and then line with parchment paper or wax paper.Place the nuts on a baking sheet and bake for about 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly brown and fragrant. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack and then coarsely chop.Peel, core, and coarsely chop the apples. Toss with 1 – 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, ground cinnamon, and salt. Add the melted butter, eggs, and vanilla extract and beat until fully incorporated. Fold in the chopped nuts, raisins, and chopped apples. If the batter is thick, stir in the milk.Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake in preheated oven for about 35 – 45 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.While the cake is still warm, prepare the glaze. Place the apricot jam or preserves in a small saucepan and warm over medium heat until liquid. Remove from heat and strain the jam through a fine strainer to remove any fruit lumps. Alternatively, place the apricot jam or preserves in a small bowl and heat in the microwave. Using a pastry brush, spread the warmed preserves over the apple cake.Serve with softly whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Cover and refrigerate leftovers. Reheat before serving.Makes 6-8 servings.Sources:Alford, Jeffrey & Duguid, Naomi. Home Baking. Artisan. New York: 2003.Rosen, Michael J. Baking from the Heart. Broadway Books. New York: 2004.Slater, Nigel. The Kitchen Diaries. Fourth Estate. London: 2005.|
Apples orchards are a great family fun activity and superb for catching family photos for autumn. There are many other things after the orchard that you can teach your family. Apples were first brought to the New World by the pilgrims. Tell them the story of Johnny Appleseed and how he went from state to state and planted the apple trees. Where I live in Ohio, we love to talk about this because he actually came through our area planting seedlings. The Johnny Appleseed Heritage Center is located in Mifflin area, Ohio and information can be provided at http://www.jahci.org . Children love apples and they often are used to represent learning. Did you give your teacher an apple? Try this link for apple coloring pages for your children.
My favorite colors are red, yellow and orange and so I love to photography the natural beauty of red and yellow apples while they are still on the tree, in a child’s hand, or in disarray on the ground. My apple photos, which will be up soon in my online store, are available in any size, on canvas, on gallery canvas, framed, on matboard, and in assorted note card packages of 10! Lovely for autumn decorating and for writing those thank you or thinking of you notes. Watch for them at my artfire store: http://breathebeautyartandphotographybyerin.artfire.com
Happy Apple Hunting!!
- Review: The Comfort of Apples (bookingmama.blogspot.com)