“Watch in Horror as, before your very eyes, the Summer People become… People of the Fall,” inks cartoonist Roz Chast, as zombie-like individuals clad in tartan and corduroy mutter things like “Foliage! Must see foliage!” or “Must pick own apples! Must buy cider at orchard!” and “Must! Buy! Gourds!”
That hits a little too close to home, I admit. For I too am one of those People.
Fortunately, for those of us who do like their apples and ciders straight from the orchard, there are plenty of orchards near Lake George, in Vermont and in Washington and Essex Counties.
(With its wealth of resources, natural, nautical, cultural and otherwise, Lake George can afford to acknowledge that other regions possess some advantages that we lack, such as commercial apple orchards.)
If Vermont is your destination, Champlain Orchards, in Shoreham, is easily accessible from Bolton, Hague and Ticonderoga and is open weekdays year-round. Cider doughnuts, freshly baked apple pies, unpasteurized cider and several varieties of hard ciders and ice ciders (a variation on ice wine made from frozen apple juice rather than grapes), are available in the market.
These days, many hard ciders are meant to be paired with foods rather than quaffed in pubs, and the Slyboro Cider House at Hicks Apple Orchard in Granville, Washington County, has been the focus of a renewed interest in America’s traditional beverage of choice.
In addition to being a cider house that’s visited by hard cider makers and cider enthusiasts from Europe and other states, Slyboro has a tasting room where visitors can sample the wares and receive the benefits of staff recommendations.
After putting our last weekly issue of the season to bed, we took advantage of our new-found leisure to spend a day in Washington County, exploring the renowned grasslands in Fort Edward, shopping at the Argyle Cheese Farmer in Hudson Falls and, after a detour through Poultney, Vermont to browse through a favorite second-hand bookstore, stocking up on apple products at Hick’s.
New York State produces more than 1 billion apples per year, and, as usual, I brought home more than my fair share – too many bags to be consumed by just us.
So as to not waste them (a crime in my family, whose frugality I like to trace to the vagaries of a livelihood based on hunting and guiding in Saranac Lake) I spent a weekend experimenting with some intriguing classic recipes that were new to me, such as one for Poulet D’Auge, a dish of chicken with apples, Calvados, cider and cream, and one for pork chops with an apple jelly reduction. Both were instant hits, and paired wonderfully with Slyboro’s sparkling hard cider, La Sainte Terre.
I then moved on to our favorite apple-based desserts, using a few tried and true recipes.
Swedish Apple Cake
This cake is a little miracle, if you like apples with caramel.
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ½ cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 t. vanilla extract
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ t. salt
1 t. baking soda
½ t. cinnamon
½ t. nutmeg
3 cups peeled and chopped apples (I used a mixture of Delicious and Pink Luster)
1 ½ cups light brown sugar
2 T. Half & Half
3 T. salted butter
1. Cream butter with sugar, add eggs and vanilla and mix well.
2. Sift together flour, salt, spices and baking soda.
3. Add dry mixture to wet, mixing until just incorporated.
4. Mix in the apples.
5 Spread in a well buttered 9” springform pan, placed on a cookie sheet, and bake at 350 degrees for a total of 60 minutes.
After the cake has baked for 30 minutes, melt and blend caramel topping ingredients in a small saucepan. At 40 minutes, remove cake from oven and pour topping evenly over it. Return cake to oven for 20 minutes.
The crackly caramel is sensational, and it’s great served with Adirondack Creamery Vanilla Ice Cream.
This is a clafoutis-like dessert from the Limousin region of France. It is so easy and yet so elegant, it’s absurd.
2 – 3 apples (I used MacIntosh)
1 ¼ cups Half & Half
3 large eggs
½ cup sugar
½ cup flour
2 T. melted, cooled butter
1 t. vanilla extract
2 T. Slyboro Pommore, inspired by classic Pommeau de Normandie, a mixture of Calvados and cider
1. Peel, core and slice apples.
2. Butter a 9” deep pie plate, and sprinkle bottom and sides with 1 T. sugar.
3. Arrange apple slices on bottom of pie plate, in any sort of pattern you like.
4. Whisk together flour, half & half, eggs, sugar, butter, vanilla and Pommore. Pour mixture over the apples and bake at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes.
The batter will puff up like a Dutch Baby, and then deflate as it cools. Also excellent served with Adirondack Creamery Vanilla Ice Cream and tiny glasses of Pommore.
Apple Goo: An Essex County Curiosity
I came across this recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks, Food, Flowers & Fireworks, published in 1975 by members of the Essex County Adirondack Garden Club, which I inherited from my mother-in-law. It sounded pretty dreadful, and being fascinated by kitchen horrors, I had to try it – hoping it would transform magically into a culinary masterpiece. It did not. (I began to think that perhaps the author was messing with her garden club friends.) Here it is, exactly as printed:
2 medium apples
¾ cup flour
½ cup shopped nuts
½ cup dates, cut fine
2 tblsp. flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1 egg, beaten
Pare, core and dice apples evry fine. Add sugar, nuts and dates; mix with flour, baking powder and salt sifted together, Drop in egg. Blend in. Place in greased 8” baking dish. Bake in moderate oven (350 degrees) about 20 minutes until golden brown on top. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
No sugar is mentioned in the ingredients, so I tried ¾ of a cup, which seemed adequate. After 20 minutes in the oven, this thing was sickly, pale and raw in appearance, so I left it in for another 25 minutes, when it finally became light golden brown, but rather dry. On removing it from the baking dish, it resembled a floor tile.
Don’t even think about serving this without Adirondack Creamery Vanilla ice cream, lots of it.
I was sure that this recipe was headed for the dustbin of disappointments, but my husband said he actually liked it, and hoped I would make it again. I’d love to know what you think! firstname.lastname@example.org