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While peaches are Colorado’s favorite famous fruit crop –and a few are still left — we sometimes come across a gorgeous slew of apples, too. Apple orchards are just south and west of Colorado Spring and Labor Day has often found us taking a day trip to pick a bushel or at least a few baskets.

This year, the harvest (always a hard-won, irrigated affair sometimes ruined by hail) was a bit early and we somehow missed it only to find, when we looked, a hearty supply of a wide variety of apples right in our own local grocery store.

Each fall I’m happy to be baking autumnal happiness…

above: Pear and Almond Torte

…actually I’m simply thrilled the heat has abated and I can turn on my oven without heating the whole house up. Hot weather: not a fan.

below: I even baked cookies for my book club, it was so cool. Yes, some were gone before I snapped this.

For the last couple of weeks, as the apples and pears began happily appearing, I’ve been dreaming of something I thought of as apple shortcake. Certainly I’ve never heard of apple shortcake, but that wasn’t going to stop me. I knew it couldn’t be hard; I can make shortcakes–which are no more than gussied-up biscuits, right? I can mix biscuits in my sleep.

Cooked apples? Probably might handle that. Hmm. Butter, brown sugar, cinnamon…

And so, between yesterday and today, I rolled up a mess of somewhat sweeter, spiced biscuits and stirred together a big pan of buttered and brown-sugar, cinnamony apples. It seemed a touch of whimsy was needed for the whipped cream. A quick dash of Calvados (French apple brandy) right into the whipping bowl fixed that, though you could leave it out or sub Scotch, Brandy, Whiskey, or vanilla if you like.  Fancy iced cream? I tried that, too. Works great. Anyway, there you go, your new fall dessert awaits–what I now call Apple Shortcake with Calvados Whipped Cream. Try this:

APPLE SHORTCAKE WITH CALVADOS WHIPPED CREAM

6 apple shortcakes   Need more? Cut your biscuits smaller and cook an extra apple or two.

Apple Filling:

  • 1/4 cup salted butter (4 tablespoons)
  • 6 medium apples (about 2 1/4 pounds), cored/peeled, sliced into 1/4-inch pieces*
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose, unbleached flour
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup water (can sub apple juice)
  • Shortcakes (recipe below)
  • Vanilla Ice cream (optional)
  • Calvados Whipped Cream (recipe below)
  • Grated nutmeg or ground cinnamon for garnish

*I like Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, or Braeburn apples here

MAKE THE APPLE FILLING: In a large, deep skillet, melt butter over medium heat and add sliced apples into pan evenly. Add the brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and let cook 2 or 3 minutes. Sprinkle with flour and stir well for another minute or so. Lower heat to medium low. Pour in water, stir gently, and let cook 15-20 minutes until apples are cooked to just barely tender. Add a little bit more water or butter if the pan begins to dry out; you want sauce left by the time the apples are done.  You can also cover the pan, watching closely, to keep the apples moist, if you like. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding a bit more sugar or a tad more cinnamon if needed.

Let the apple filling cool before filling the shortcakes or fill them right away if you like melted whipped cream or iced cream.

ASSEMBLE THE SHORTCAKES:  For each serving, slice a shortcake in half* and place the bottom of the cake in a shallow bowl.  Spoon apple filling on top.  Garnish with Calvados whipped cream (recipe below) +/or vanilla ice cream and grate a little nutmeg (or sprinkle with cinnamon) on top of the cream.

*Lightly butter each half of shortcake if they’re dry or you’ve made them the day before or have frozen them.

SHORTCAKES (Biscuits)

Use the extra biscuits at breakfast topped with scrambled eggs or butter and jam. Can be made the day before and stored in a ziplock storage bag, though you may want to lightly butter sliced biscuits before using (see above). Want to make ahead? Freeze for up to two weeks and thaw in the bag on the counter for several hours before using.

10 biscuits

  • 2 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder (4 teaspoons)
  • 1/2 teaspoon EACH salt and cream of tartar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup cold salted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and place oven rack in middle of oven.

In a medium bowl or in the bowl of a food processor, mix dry ingredients (flour – nutmeg).  Using your fingers, two knives, a pastry blender,or the steel blade of a food processor, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until there are smaller than and larger than pea-sized pieces.

In a small bowl or  2-cup measuring cup, whisk together the milk, egg, and vanilla.  Pour into the medium food processor bowl all at once and stir or pulse until the dough is just beginning to come together.

Turn out onto a floured board or counter and knead briefly until you have a shaggy dough. Don’t try to make it smooth.  Pat out into a 1/2-inch thick rectangle and, pushing down and pulling straight up (no twisting), cut out the shortcakes using a 3-inch cookie cutter. *  I like a fluted one.

Place the cakes into a glass baking dish (or use 2 pie plates) so that they are not touching. Bake about 15 minutes until light gold.  Remove to a rack to cool completely.

*If you use a 2-inch cookie cutter, you’ll have a few more shortcakes.

Recipe based on FANNY FARMER BAKING BOOK shortcakes. Thanks once more, Marion Cunningham.

CALVADOS WHIPPED CREAM

TIP:  Chill beaters and bowl to whip cream more quickly.

In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer or a whisk, whip together 1 cup whipping cream, 1-2 tablespoons Calvados (sub Cognac or Brandy) and 1-2 teaspoons honey*, according to taste. Don’t over whip this; aim for soft and billowy clouds rather than stiff peaks.

You can make this in the morning, store in the fridge, and just whisk it a bit more that evening before using. Store leftovers in a tightly covered small bowl for a day or two in the fridge and use in your coffee.

*No honey? Use granulated sugar.

{printable recipe}


What are you reading, watching, or listening to?

I’m catching up on the last Louise Penny book before the next one comes, but am loving the book for the current (September) SAVEUR Cookbook Club:  SIX SEASONS : A NEW WAY WITH VEGETABLES by Joshua McFadden. (Follow SAVEUR magazine on facebook to read about this fun activity.)

I’m still enjoying “Godless,” “Madam Secretary,” and “Homeland” for tv series. Early mornings, if I tune in, I try and catch Jacques Pepin on PBS. Occasionally Baking with Julia is on!

Dave and I are also filling a few evenings with filmed travelogues as we are at the 3-week countdown before a European trip. We begin with a few days in Rome, hop on a cruise ship for a two-week trip heading to Israel via several stops in Greece, and then return to rest briefly in Sicily and Naples before one final night in Rome. Stay tuned! I’ll bring back some great ideas, I know.  MORE TIME: ITALIAN STYLE coming up.

Enjoy each moment of fall! Thanks for reading and following along; I appreciate you.

Alyce

If you’re missing the dogs this post, here they are the other night waiting for their pizza crust.  (left: Rosie and right: Tucker)