Saturday, September 26, 2015

Have some applesauce 'n' bread or an apple-y zoo!

Markets are starting to bust out the real apples-- Cortlands! Ginger Golds! Braeburns! Honeycrisps!-- next to the always-available Red "Delicious" and Granny Smith varieties, so for a couple of weekends, I'm going to go apple (recipe) picking.

This week: Apple Desserts!

I expected apple desserts to start with apples and add delicious things to them: a rich dough of some type, nuts, spices. Okay, I wasn't too surprised by how austere The Rodale Cookbook's (Nancy Albright, 1973 copyright, 1977 printing) '70s health take on apple desserts was this:

Equal parts of breadcrumbs and applesauce-- seasoned with a touch of honey, cinnamon, and oil-- doesn't sound like a significant step up from plain old applesauce with a cinnamon on top to me. This is just applesauce with some filler.

I was a bit surprised by how bland some of the more mainstream cookbook desserts sounded, though. When I picked up The Margaret Rudkin Pepperidge Farm Cookbook (1973 edition, from which the apple picking picture above was also taken), I expected some flavorful and decadent desserts. I found some, but there is also this:

It's just applesauce (can even be canned applesauce!) dumped into a shell of white bread and baked. I mean, I'm not exactly surprised by old recipes for "spicy" food that call for a dash or two of hot sauce or for spaghetti sauce that's only seasoned with salt, pepper, and a bit of fresh parsley. But who could object to apple pie spices? They're mostly just cinnamon and nutmeg, with a wild card like allspice, ginger, or cardamom thrown in for good measure. There is nothing to season this Charlotte except the suggested addition of heavy cream-- which will help, mind you-- but this isn't exactly the confection I expected.

The most fun dessert-y dish was actually the oldest, from my 1996 reproduction of the 1896 Fannie Farmer Cook Book:

Apple Porcupines sound like they actually might have some flavor (syrup-cooked apples stuffed with marmalade and coated in nuts) AND make an adorable end to dinner with their split almond quills. I wouldn't have guessed that 1890s cooks who had to make pretty much everything from scratch, in between hand-scrubbing the laundry and making sure the fire didn't go out, would bother with something this whimsical. I should have known that I'm not the only one with a strong whimsy drive.

Next week, we'll have some main dishes with apples. I didn't know where to put this one, though, so I'm using it as a transition. From Thomas Mario's The Playboy Gourmet (1979):

It's Welsh Rabbit with Fried Apple! The beer-and-cheese sauce is usually served as a main dish over toast, but here it's served with fried apples. Does the common European dessert of fruit and cheese make this a dessert recipe? Does the sweet-and-savory combination make this more of a side dish for the main meal? It's your call. Either way, it's a new bunny to me.

Come back next weekend for some scary, savory apples!

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