I told you I would make applesauce before the season was over. If I had known it was going to be this good, I would have made it sooner. But then I only read Elizabeth David's "Big Bad Bramleys" article a few days ago, so had I made it sooner I would have made some stovetop affair and it wouldn't have been nearly as tasty. Timing, they say, is everything.
After nine weeks of fall fruit share I was left with several bags in the bottom of my fridge each containing one or two apple orphans. There was a Honeycrisp, a couple of Macouns, a Black Oxford, an Empire, and three Pinovas. Having just read the aforementioned article, I new exactly what to do with them: make apple orphan applesauce.
You might have a hard time getting excited about applesauce. I've been raving at people about it for the past two days and I think they might worry that I spend too much time alone. I know it's not much to look at. I mean, it's applesauce, right? But this is Apple Sauce. With a difference. This method calls for baking peeled, cored, sliced apples in a covered dish without the addition of water or sugar or anything whatsoever until they are tender enough that "to whisk them into a purée is then the work of less than a minute." You then add a lump of butter and a bit of sugar if you want (I didn't). The result is pure apple bliss.
forever indebted to Elizabeth David
- apples, however many of whatever variety
- 1 knob salted butter
- sugar, if desired, to taste
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Peel, core, and thinly slice apples, as if for apple pie. Arrange slices in a baking dish. Six or seven apples will fill a 9-inch square baking dish and yield approximately 3 cups of apple sauce. Cover dish and and place apples in oven. Bake 30-45 minutes, or until apples are burbling and very soft.
- Remove from oven and mash apples with a fork. (This should be very easy. The apples should practically mash themselves. If they're putting up a fight, stick 'em back in the oven for a few.) Add the butter and sugar, if using, and mix them in with your fork.
Enjoy warm out of the oven with dollop of crème fraîche. Reserve some for baking.
Because the apples stew in only their juices without being diluted by water, the apple flavor is somehow intensified, concentrated, made more apple than apple itself. I found the addition of sugar to be unnecessary--the apples were sweet enough as they were and I didn't want to risk masking any of the apple flavor. Butter makes everything better--it makes the applesauce velvety, creamy. Elizabeth says it "provides the clue to the excellence of this recipe" and she's right.
I used most of my applesauce for baking, but as soon as I was finished mixing in the butter I helped myself to a cupful of the warm sauce, topped it with a bit of crème fraîche, and was transported.