After a hayride out to the actual orchard, it was time for us to decide which delicious variety of apple to pick. We knew we wanted something versatile, as we had many, many, many plans for these apples. Last year, we really enjoyed the Mutsu apples that we picked, which were new to us at the time, so this year, those were the first trees we visited.
Little miss loves picking just about every fruit, and most of the time, there are plenty of available fruits at her level. And while this was the case this weekend, there were even more apples up just a bit higher, so daddy was more than happy to give her a boost. With the added height, little miss was not only able to pick more apples, but had a great view of the orchards, and was able to direct us to all of the best trees.
We ended up with half a bushel of apples (about 22 pounds), a mix of Mutsus, Empires and Jonagolds. Right at the end, when our bag was so filled that we couldn't fit any more in, we discovered Macoun apples, a cross between Macintosh and Jersey Blacks, which are absolutely delicious, so now we have a new variety to add to our mix on next year's outing.
The first thing that we decided to make with our bounty was applesauce. The crock pot makes homemade applesauce so easy. The hardest part is also the most time consuming - peeling, coring and cutting enough apples to fill my 6.5 quart crock pot. While some fruits at the you-pick fields are smaller than those you can find in the supermarket (like the strawberries, raspberries and peaches), the apples that we pick at the orchard each year always amaze us with their size. I started with ten large apples, with an even mix of Mutsus and
Jonagolds. I peeled, cored and cut, and little miss handled making sure that all of the cut fruit made it into the crock pot. She did, of course, insist on tasting one piece from each apple that was cut, just to make sure it was good enough for our apple sauce. Luckily, they all passed the taste test.
Once all of the apples were in the pot, I sprinkled them with a bit of brown sugar, a dash a cinnamon and just a hint of nutmeg, then turned the crock pot on low and left it for an entire day. Seriously - it is just that easy.
Applesauce saucing away, I decided that I also wanted to make a dessert to bring to our family's weekly Sunday night dinner. We were going to barbecue this weekend, and what goes better with a weekend barbecue than apple pie? I must, must, MUST recommend the new pie crust recipe that I used. It will absolutely become my new standard, it was just that good and flaky and delicious.
Crust prepared, apples peeled, cored, sliced and coated in delicious sugars and spices, daddy and little miss decided that they wanted our pie to have a lattice top, so we set down to weaving. This was only the
second time I have attempted a lattice top, so I am still working on the best way to work it all out, but I
would say it went pretty well. A quick crimp to the edges and a sprinkling of demarara sugar, and the pie was ready to head into the oven.
By the time the pie was ready, the whole house smelled so yummy, between the sauce in the crock pot and the pie in the oven. The pie looked beautiful, crispy and bubbly in all of the right places, and wound up being a big hit after our family dinner.
In case you are curious as to what else these apples have been turned into in the last few days, I made a delicious apple-pecan chicken dish for dinner last
night, and put together an apple crisp this morning to bring with us to a play-date at a friend's house. And we have been snacking on apples, also. And we still have only used about half of what we have picked, so please feel free to suggest other apple recipes for us to try!
(from Smitten Kitchen)
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (8 ounces, 16 tablespoons, 1 cup) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into half-inch cubes
1 cup very cold water (throw in some ice cubes to keep it cold)
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Sprinkle the butter cubes over the flour mixture and work it in with a pastry cutter or two knives (try not to work it in with your hands too much - it raises the temperature too much) until it resembles a coarse meal. Don't worry if there are still some bigger pieces - it can be uneven.
Drizzle about a half a cup of the water (careful not to pour the ice cubes in) over the flour and butter mixture. Using a spatula (rubber or silicone), gather the dough together. You may need additional water to fully incorporate everything, but add it slowly (a tablespoon at a time). Once the dough has mostly come together, knead it gently and carefully with your hands.
Divide the dough in half, gather each piece into a disc shape and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for at least an hour, though it can rest for up to a week in the fridge (longer in the freezer).