The apples on my tree are ripe. It’s time to dig out the apple recipes, which for me means searching for apple recipes in hundred-year-old cookbooks. I found a recipe with an unusual name, Apple John. Intrigued, I decided to give it a try.
I think I found a winner. The Apple John is kind of like an upside-down cobbler made with shortcake dough. It was tasty, attractive, and easy to make.
To make stewed apples, place the sliced apples in a large saucepan, then add sugar, cinnamon, and water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat. Continue to simmer gently until the apples are soft (approximately 10-15 minutes). If needed, add additional water. Remove from heat and put the stewed apples in a 9″ X 9″ X 3″ or similar-sized greased baking dish or pan.
In the meantime, preheat oven to 425° F. Put flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl; stir to combine. Cut the shortening into the flour mixture Add milk and stir just enough to combine using a fork.
Drop spoonfuls of the shortcake dough on top of the stewed apples to cover them. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until the top is lightly browned. Remove from oven and invert on serving plate.
I generally like old-fashioned fruit puddings, so I was pleased when I saw a recipe for Apple Pudding in a hundred-year-old cookbook.
Most modern apple recipes call for cinnamon and other spices, so I was surprised that this recipe didn’t use any spices. But they weren’t needed–the Apple Pudding was pure apple and delightful. The apples were embedded in a lovely moist cake pudding.
In general the directions in this old recipe are a little vague. It provides no clue how many apples should be used; and I was left to decide what a moderate oven meant. However, the recipe was very specific that Cleveland’s Superior Baking Powder should be used. Of course, I’ve never heard of Cleveland’s and it’s probably not been made for decades. So I had to make due with a modern baking powder brand, which worked just fine. This recipe may have been originally published by the Cleveland Baking Powder Company. Perhaps Mrs. Wm. Mock liked it, and submitted the same exact recipe for the church cookbook.
Preheat oven to 350° F. Place sliced apples into a 7 1/2 X 12 X 2 inch rectangular casserole dish, or other similarly-sized dish.
Put butter, sugar, flour, baking powder, egg, and milk into a mixing bowl; beat until smooth. Pour the batter over the apples. Place in oven and bake for 1 hour – 1 hr, 15 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Serve warm or cool. If desired, may be served with whipped cream or milk.
Can I let you in on a secret? March is one of the most difficult months to eat local seasonal foods. Winter staples like squash, onions, cabbage. . . even apples are starting to seen humdrum. And, it will be at least a few weeks until local fresh produce is available. Usually, I cheat a little and buy strawberries and asparagus at the supermarket, and justify it by saying they are March fruits and vegetables. . . somewhere.
But, when I browse through hundred-year-old magazines, I’m keenly aware that people actually ate local foods that had been stored all winter during March back then.
I decided to that today I was going to make an authentic March food and began flipping through the March, 1916 issue of Good Housekeeping. I came across an old recipe for Apple Johnny Cake that intrigued me.
This corn bread contains no sugar and feels healthier than modern sugared corn bread. The apples (I used Braeburn apples) embedded in the Johnny Cake are the sole source of sweetness, and work perfectly in this recipe.
The Apple Johnny Cake was good–though I must admit that I can hardly wait for the local spring fruits and vegetables to arrive on the scene (or I might cheat and buy some more Mexico, California, or Florida produce when I go to the supermarket tomorrow).
Here’s my updated version of the hundred-year-old recipe for modern cooks:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Put corn meal, flour, baking powder, salt, and milk into a mixing bowl; beat until smooth. Stir in apple slices, and then put the batter into a well-greased 9 inch X 9 inch baking pan. Place in oven. Bake 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
And, here is the original recipe:
The Apple Johnny Cake was an interesting corn bread, but I wanted to also try eating it crumbled and served with milk as described in the recipe.
I broke a piece of Apple Johnny Cake into a bowl (and sprinkled it with a little sugar), then poured milk on it. It was surprisingly tasty. I can see why children enjoyed this dish a hundred years ago.
I found an intriguing recipe for something called Dutch Apple Cake in a small 1911 promotional cookbook published by K C Baking Powder. Even though it was called a cake, the serving suggestions in the original recipe said, “serve hot, with butter, as bread for supper or with hard sauce as a pudding.”
My curiosity got the best of me–What was it? . . . a cake? . . . a bread? . . . a pudding?
Well, I made the recipe, and I’m still not quite sure. When I ate it warm, it tasted like a bread. It had a nice texture with apples and currants embedded in a rich, sticky cinnamon-sugar syrup on top that reminded me slightly of the syrup on old-fashioned “sticky buns.”
But after it cooled, it seemed more like a coffee cake–a very nice coffee cake. I didn’t try it with hard sauce so I’m not sure whether it also seems similar to steamed puddings–but I did post on old hard sauce recipe awhile back so maybe someone else will try that and let us know.
The rows of cinnamon-sugar coated apple slices and currants give this bread/cake a striking, almost elegant look. It’s perfect to serve when a friend stops over for a cup of coffee. . . and if the conversation starts to lag, this food is a wonderful conversation starter: “Is this a cake, bread, or pudding?”
Preheat oven to 375° F. In a small bowl combine sugar, cinnamon, and currants. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, butter, egg, and milk. Stir until a thick dough forms. Put dough into a well-greased bread pan. Firmly press the narrow edges of the apple slices into the dough in parallel rows; then sprinkle with the sugar and currant mixture. Place in oven and bake approximately 40-45 minutes–or until a wooden pick inserted into the cake (not the apples) comes out clean. Remove from oven.
Use apples that hold their shape in this recipe. I used Braeburn apples.
Pork chops are a food that I crave in mid-winter, but would seldom think about eating in July. Maybe it brings back vague memories of eating freshly butchered pork in January when I was a child. When I saw an intriguing recipe in the January, 1916 issue of Good Housekeeping for Baked Pork Chops with Apples, I immediately knew that I wanted to try it. The old magazine featured the recipe–and even included a picture.
The top of a baked apple showily topped each pork chop for a lovely, yet decidedly old-fashioned, presentation. The pork chops had a nice, slightly crispy, bread crumb coating with sage undertones that blended nicely with the tanginess of the baked apples.
Preheat oven to 375° F. Combine bread crumbs, salt, pepper, and sage. Coat the pork chops with the bread crumb mixture and put in a baking dish or oven-proof skillet. Cut the top 1 1/2 inch off the apples and core. (Reserve the remainder of apple for use in another recipe.) Center a cored apple top on each pork chop; place 1 teaspoon of butter in the center of each apple. Bake for 45 minutes or until the pork chop is thoroughly cooked.
I love these last lazy-daisy days of summer. The apples are ripe, the mint plants in my garden are going wild—and I found a recipe that used both ingredients in a hundred-year-old magazine.
Glazed Mint Apples are easy to make: and a healthy, refreshing dessert. Life is good!
Glazed Mint Apples
6 apples (McIntosh or other variety that retains shape when cooked)
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
2 dozen mint sprigs
Boil sugar and water together for fifteen minutes. Pare and core apples, and place in a frying pan. Pour the sugar syrup over them, add eighteen of the mint-sprigs tied in a bunch, and simmer slowly. Turn often to prevent them from becoming mushy. Each time the apples are turned, use spoon to baste apples with sugar syrup. When the apples have softened (about 20 minutes), remove carefully from pan, baste with a small amount syrup, and put a sprig of mint in the hole of each apple. Serve warm or cold.
Adapted from a recipe in Good Housekeeping (October, 1915)
19-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:
Tuesday, November 10, 1914: <<no entry>>
Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:
Since Grandma didn’t write anything a hundred years ago today, I t thought you might enjoy an old compote recipe that uses Fall fruits.
Old-Fashioned Fall Fruit Compote
3/4 cup raisins
1 1/2 cup cider
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Core pears and apples (but do not peel); then cut into 1-inch cubes. Combine cubed pears and apples, raisins, cider, water, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar in large saucepan. Bring to a boil using medium heat. Reduce heat and cook for another 10-12 minutes. Remove from heat; drain using a colander, saving save the liquid. Combine the reserved liquid with the cornstarch; and return to saucepan. Using medium heat, reheat while stirring constantly until the liquid thickens. Remove from heat, and combine with the cooked fruit. Cool and serve.