With temperatures stubbornly refusing to drop, it is difficult to believe that it is the middle of November. For a great many of us, fall means Thanksgiving, a bountiful harvest, the scent of a barrel of apples in the cellar.
Apples are to fall what fiddleheads are to spring. There are so many varieties available, and so many regions around Canada produce such great yields that our cuisine, especially in this season, prominently showcases this storied fruit.
Pies, strudels, apple pan dowdy, apple sauce, or simply baked, the list goes on and on, with certain varieties recommended as a better choice for pies than others.
For example Granny Smith, Russets or Northern Spies are great for pies since they are somewhat tart and hold their shape well when cooked, and other varieties more suited for placing on the teacher’s desk, since they are softer and sweeter, such as Delicious and Macintosh.
Indeed, most bakers are passionate about their choice of apples. Best to not upset the apple cart; Blake Royer has a nice little taste test that you might want to check out for more ideas about which apples to use.
But stop the presses! There’s a new kid in town, a cultivar developed in 2009 by the University of Minnesota that is great for both muffins and munching. The SweeTango apple is a cross between the Zestar (the “dad” apple and the Honeycrisp, the “mom” apple,”) and is sweet and tart, great with old cheddar or sliced thin on a baguette with smoked ham and caramelized onions.
Introduced to the Canadian market three years ago, the SweeTango is grown in Canada in the world famous Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia and was a big hit with chefs at this year’s Canadian Chef’s Congress in Grand Pre, Nova Scotia. In fact the hot, dry summer Nova Scotia experienced this year was great for the apples, producing a smaller but more flavourful fruit.
“There’s a trade-off,” according to Dave Parrish, COO at Scotian Gold, “this year’s apples tend to be smaller than other years. Tree fruit requires precipitation to plump up. We didn’t get that much-needed summer precipitation. They say good things come in small packages and this year that saying is true for our apples. We have smaller apples, but they are packed with flavour”
If you can get your hands on a few of these beauts, you should try out this delicious muffin recipe, it’s a great way to stretch that last apple into a dozen awesome little muffins.
Apple Streusel Muffins
recipe courtesy of www.scotiangold.com
For the Muffins:
1 SweeTango apple
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
1 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten
½ cup melted butter
4 ½ tbsp flour
5 tbsp sugar
¾ tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp chopped pecans
- Preheat oven to 350 and grease muffin tins (or use muffin cups)
- Peel and chop apple. Mix all muffin ingredients together and fold in apple.
- Prepare streusel: mix flour, sugar, cinnamon and pecans. Add butter and cut in with fork until crumbly. Set aside.
- Fill muffin tin with batter and top with streusel. Bake for 15 minutes or until browned.
Sometimes it’s great to have a little mood music for cooking, or cleaning, and sometimes a poem does the trick.Though most commercial apples are now grown on small trees tantamount to apple shrubbery, the days of clambering up rickety two-pointed ladders largely being over, this classic poem by Robert Frost should get you in the mood.
After Apple Picking
My long two-pointed ladder’s sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
And there’s a barrel that I didn’t fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn’t pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.
I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and disappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing clear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.
And I keep hearing from the cellar bin
The rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it’s like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.