IRELAND HOPPING | By Margaret M. Johnson
Apples are one of the most popular and important fruits in both Ireland and America. With over 2,500 varieties in the United States alone, it’s no wonder it’s challenging to know which apple is best for the recipe you’re making. Some are better for baking, while others work best for dishes like applesauce or apple Charlotte. Check the list of “Apples A-Z” for some of the most popular varieties and don’t be afraid to mix and match in these delicious autumn dishes.
AUTUMN APPLE BREAD
2 cups flour
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1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 large eggs
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups peeled and chopped apples
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter a 9-inch loaf pan.
- In a large bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon; set aside.
- In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment (or with hand mixer), combine eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed until smooth. Stir into flour mixture until evenly combined and then stir in apples.
- Transfer to prepared pan and bake for 50 to 55 minutes. Cover with foil and bake for 15 to 18 minutes more, or until skewer inserted into center comes out clean. Remove from oven and transfer to wire rack; let cool for 15 minutes. Invert onto rack, return to upright, and then let cool completely before cutting into slices.
ARMAGH APPLE CAKE
This traditional cake has many variations: some recipes add ground nuts, some add raisins or sultanas, and some add a topping of sliced apples. This version has a bread pudding consistency and is delicious served with custard, clotted cream, or vanilla ice cream.
2 medium cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 stick butter, diced
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar (reserve 1/4 cup for topping)
1/2 cup sultanas (golden raisins)
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 apple, peeled, cored and sliced
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch round pan. Toss chopped apples with lemon juice; set aside.
- In large bowl, sift together flour and baking powder. With pastry cutter or your fingers, cut or rub in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- Stir in 1/2 cup sugar, chopped apples, sultanas and eggs. Mix well, and then stir in milk to make soft dough. Transfer batter to prepared pan.
- In small bowl, mix remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar with sliced apple and cinnamon; arrange on top of cake. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until skewer inserted into center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Run a knife around edge to loosen and then invert cake onto a plate; return to upright. Slice and serve warm.
CHUNKY APPLE-SPICE CAKE WITH VANILLA BUTTER SAUCE
This recipe is provided by McCormick’s, makers of spices, sauces, and other indispensable ingredients for bakers and cooks.
For the cake
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon McCormick pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon McCormick ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons McCormick vanilla extract
2 medium apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
For the butter sauce
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
8 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream.
- Make cake. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, pumpkin pie spice, allspice, and salt; set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed for 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla on low speed, until just blended. Gradually beat in flour mixture, beating well after each addition. Stir in apples, raisins and walnuts
- Spoon batter into prepared pan and bake 35 to 40 minutes, or until skewer inserted into center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes; invert cake onto serving plate.
- Make sauce. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, slowly bring sugar, butter and cream to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, or until sauce thickens. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. To serve, spoon warm sauce over cake; cut into slices.
Braeburn: a sweet-tart flavor with a texture that remains firm when it’s baked. An all-purpose apple, it works well in pies and tarts where you don’t want the filling to be overly juicy.
Cortland: juicy and slightly tart with bright red skin and white flesh. This is an excellent baking apple to use in pies, cobblers, and crisps. Cortland is also excellent for salads and cheese plates because the flesh doesn’t brown and discolor quickly.
Empire: a cross between McIntosh and Red Delicious, this apple is firm-textured and sweet-tart in taste. It’s a good all-purpose apple for juice, sauce, pies, baking, salads, eating fresh, and drying.
Fuji: firm, crisp, and juicy, Fuji is popular for both eating and baking because it holds its shape when cooked.
Gala: crisp and sweet with a mild flavor, Galas have yellow-orange skin with red striping. They’re terrific for salads, applesauce, and pressing into cider.
Golden Delicious: sweet with a rich, mellow flavor. This is a good all-around cooking apple that maintains its shape after baking.
Granny Smith: crisp and quite sour, this is one of the most popular tart apples. It’s a good all-purpose cooking apple and is often paired with sweeter, spicier apples in pies and crisps.
Honeycrisp: crisp and juicy with a honey-sweet and tart flavor. A fairly new apple variety, it’s a great eating apple and good for baking and applesauce.
Jonagold: tangy and sweet, this apple is a blend of Jonathan and Golden Delicious. With a yellow-green base and a blush stripe, it’s excellent both for eating and for cooking.
Jonathan: tart with a rich, slightly spicy flavor. It holds its shape well when baked and is also good in salads and for applesauce.
Macoun: sweet and aromatic, this apple is excellent for snacking, in salads, and in sauce. With bright red skin and juicy white flesh, it makes a splash on a cheese plate.
McIntosh: juicy and crisp, this popular eating apple has bright red skin with green undertones. A McIntosh tends to break down when cooked, so it’s best paired with Golden Delicious or other apples in pies and other baked goods.
Mutsu: juicy, sweet and super crisp, this large, yellow-green fruit (also known as Crispin) has a sweet, refreshing flavor and is great for eating, in salads, and for baking.
Northern Spy: crisp, white, juicy flesh with a sweet-tart flavor. Stores well and is good for baking and juicing.
Winesap: firm and aromatic with a spicy bite. A sweet-flavored apple, it’s good in sauces and for baking.
Margaret Johnson’s “Recipes” page now includes “Ireland Hopping: Adventures in Food, Drink, and Travel.” For further details on her work, including how to order her cookbooks, visit www.irishcook.com