I missed it.
I was tucked away in bed as it came and went, but the kind man at the apple orchard on Thursday told me that it indeed had come.
That's why, he said, the pick-your-own season is over. They have to get the remaining apples off the trees fast once the first frost comes, or the apples will be ruined.
And that would be a shame.
My niece Mica and I were a little disappointed to learn that we couldn't pick apples on Thursday. We're lucky live close enough to the beautiful Solebury Orchards that we make regular trips there for our apples, and when we have the time, we like to pick them ourselves.
Picking season may be over, but, thankfully, apple season is not. Solebury's late-ripening apples, which are kept cold storage, will be available in their market into the winter. So, though we couldn't pick them ourselves, we still walked away with a half-peck of Keepsakes on Thursday.
While nothing tops an apple just off the tree, apples from a bona fide farmer's market are the next-best thing. They're crispier, juicer, and more flavorful than the supermarket variety. I don't know why, but they are. Get to your local farmer's market, and take a bite--you'll see what I mean.
Then, get baking.
Jewish Apple Cake
I made this in October, as a birthday cake for my sister. It was hit with everyone but the kids. If they'd tried it, they may have liked it, but the idea of apples in cake was too much for them. That's ok--more for us. I served it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and an apple cider reduction that was so easy to make. It's a very moist cake.
Make this, or your favorite apple recipe, with farmer's market or supermarket apples--whatever you can get your hands on. It's autumn--and apple season--after all!
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 cup apple sauce (or cooking oil)
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup orange juice
5-6 apples, peeled and thinly sliced
6 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1-2 teaspoons nutmeg
For the apples: Use a few different kinds, if possible. The various flavors will combine in the batter to produce a gloriously complex apple flavor. I recommend this with any baking or cooking you do with apples, and especially when making apple sauce. In this cake, I used Braeburn, Keepsake and Sundance.
Beat eggs, baking powder, vanilla, salt, and orange juice. Mix in another bowl the flour, sugar and oil. Add to egg mixture and combine. Note: This is different than most cake recipes in which you cream together the butter, sugar, and eggs.
Mix the cinnamon, nutmeg and 6 tablespoons of sugar with the sliced apples and mix well.
In a greased tube or bundt pan, pour 1/3 of the batter, then 1/2 the apples, then another 1/3 of batter, then the rest of the apples, then the remainder of the batter.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 1/2 hours or until tester or knife comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove from pan to cool on wire rack. I recommend that you run a knife along the side of the pan to loosen the cake before turning the pan onto the rack.
Apple Cider Reduction
a pat of butter (1-2 tablespoons)
A reduction is basically a liquid that has been cooked down to make a sauce. The effect is a thicker and more intense version of the original.
To make an apple cider reduction, cook the apple cider down to your desired thickness by boiling the cider and stirring occasionally. At the end, whisk in a pat of butter to thicken it a little more and to further enrich the flavor of the reduction.
How much cider you start with and how long you boil it depends on how much you need and how thick you want it to be. I started with 5 cups of cider and cooked them down to 1 cup. 1 cup was plenty to serve as a sauce for the cake. I could have used fewer than 5 at the start, but then my sauce would have been less sweet at the end. You can play around with it and see what works for you. You really can't mess it up.
Note: If you make the reduction to serve with this cake, remember that it's a sauce, not a glaze. Don't pour it over the cake until the cake is sliced and plated.