I drag my feet at every change of season. As the long lovely days of sunlight clearly slip away into October, I dig my heels into every Indian summer moment until the arrival of first harvest apples. The entrance of countless sorts of just-picked varieties of this cheerful fruit, neatly organized in bushels and crates at farmers market stalls everywhere simply win me over. Before I know it, autumn feels like my favorite time of the year and I find myself experimenting in the kitchen with colorfully crunchy apples from countryside orchards spread across the low lands of the Netherlands.
The following recipe is actually a trio that fits together well in a bowl for breakfast or even for dessert. I used every bit of apple I could and even used the peels to create a lovely pink juice. In the end the story is simple. It’s about homemade apple sauce . a simple baked apple with cinnamon and toasted honey oats. I added some fresh figs to this effortless combination because they are irresistible when fresh . bright . purple and ripe from the tree.
- six crisp . locally grown apples
- the juice of one organic lemon
- one teaspoon of cinnamon
- one tablespoon of unsalted butter
- 75 grams organic oats
- one tablespoon of honey
- four fresh figs (optional) or
- a small handful of dried sour cherries
Scrub the apples and the lemon in cold running water. Grate the peel of the lemon with a zester catching the thin lemon curls into a small bowl. Squeeze the lemon juice. Peel the apples with a paring knife, rubbing in each apple with the squeezed lemon halves to prevent them from browning.
Drop the apple peels into a sauce pan and just barely cover them with cold water. Add half the lemon juice and bring the ingredients to a boil. Turn down the heat and cook the apple peels ten minutes at a simmer. Remove the peels with a sieve and continue to cook the pale pink juice for yet another ten minutes.
Meanwhile cut four of the apples in half; remove their seeds and core. cut them into large even-size chunks. Toss the apples in a bowl with the remaining lemon juice and place them in a pan large enough to accommodate them. Pour over the cooked apple peel juice and bring the apples to a simmer at medium heat. Allow the apples to soften while keeping some of their original texture, stirring occasionally for about twenty minutes. Turn off the heat and let the fresh apple sauce cool just a bit.
Cover a pie pan with parchment paper. Cut the remaining apples in half (removing their seeds and core). Lay the apples on the parchment paper; sprinkle them with cinnamon and dot them with butter. Bake the apples in the oven fifteen minutes while making the fresh apple sauce. The apples are done when the butter has melted and the fruit is heated through while keeping its shape. Drizzle the apples with some honey if you are in the mood.
Cover yet another tart tin or cookie platter with parchment paper. Spread out the oats and drizzle them with honey. Bake the oats along with the apples, tossing them every five minutes until they are lightly toasted and the honey is caramelized and golden. Remove both the apples and oats from the oven and allow them to cool enough to handle.
Assemble a few spoons of apple sauce in a bowl and top it with a baked apple half . Scatter it with toasted oats and drizzle some apple-cinnamon butter juices over the top. Add some fresh figs . dried sour cherries . or any colorful fruit your heart desires and serve with lemon zest . a touch of lavender or even dried rose petals. Serve the apple and oat honey crunch in a bowl for breakfast or dessert, making sure to save what you don’t need right away in the refrigerator for another simple first harvest apple story.
Add any left over lemon zest either to the apple sauce or the toasted oats by the way.
Apples and cinnamon . butter and oats . these ingredients are classic pairs. I love to fill pancakes with all or some of the elements described above. The addition of thick yoghurt or walnuts make the bowl I have made more luxurious. My favorite flavor creator at the moment are home-dried rose petals but vanilla and organic zest do the trick as well.
Seek out apple orchards close to where you live and discover countless varieties of the fruit most symbolic of purity and simplicity I can think of.
Save your apple peels! Cook them down into a syrup without any need to add sugar or simply add them to a carafe of water the next time you have a reason to peel them for baking or other purposes.
This recipe is my twist on one of Jamie’s 17 Food Revolution recipes. I gladly contribute to Mr. Oliver’s campaign as super ambassador of the Food Revolution. I too feel that teaching and passing on cooking skills to friends and family makes life not only more meaningful but infinitely more valuable on an every level. Read more on this here.