I’ve been dreamily excited about the arrival of fall for weeks now. As the season has officially arrived now, I think it’s time we all take a moment to appreciate the perpetual changing of the seasons. Because with that change comes a whole new slew of produce grown in our fine state for us to appreciate. The list of fall produce I get excited about is long, but for this month I wanted to share with you some of my favorite things to do with the most classic of the fall fruits – apples!
Apples and Michigan go together like two peas in a pod. Michigan is the third largest producer of apples in the country, with an average of about 23 million bushels grown every year throughout the Mitten. This makes apples the largest fruit crop in Michigan, beating out the beloved Traverse City cherries. So no matter where you are in Michigan this fall, go ahead and find your way to an apple orchard – pick some apples, drink some cider and appreciate this amazing crop! Then, head on home to test your skills with a few simple kitchen projects.
If the nearest apple orchard is a little too far for your liking (though in this state, it really shouldn’t be too far!), Michigan apples can be found at farmers’ markets, roadside stands, and in most grocery stores – the biggest benefit of Michigan producing so many apples.
Apple Fennel Salad
This is a super simple salad combining two wonderful flavors of fall, apples and fresh fennel. You can toss it together in under 10 minutes, and it is healthy to boot! This salad is great served on it’s own in a bowl, or on top of a bed of mixed greens or lettuce for a fuller salad.
1 large apple, cut into thin matchsticks
1 large bulb of fennel, sliced thinly
fennel fronds (the leafy bits) from your bulb, roughly chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
1 Tbsp apple cider
salt & pepper to taste
- Combine olive oil, vinegar/lemon juice, and apple cider in a small jar. Put the lid on and shake it up until the oil and liquid have combined. Alternatively, you can whisk it with a fork in a small bowl if you don’t have a jar on hand.
- Combine apples and fennel (both the bulb and the fronds) in a medium bowl and mix until evenly distributed. Pour about 3/4 of the dressing over the top, adding the rest if you think it could use a little more (depending how big you fennel and apple are, you may or may not need it all).
- Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper, then let sit for at least 30 minutes before serving so the flavors can meld together.
Apple Pecan Crisp
I’ve mentioned in some of my previous Awesome Mitten posts that crisps are the easiest dessert to have up your sleeve, and a “go to” favorite of mine. A post about apples just wouldn’t be complete without mention of the ever popular apple crisp. This version uses a nutty topping for an extra special treat! I call for pecan flour here, but walnuts or almonds will also work great. Or, if you’re really looking to dress things up, find yourself some hazelnuts and use them, you won’t be sorry.
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), cubed
1 cup pecan flour (just blend nuts in your blender until a floury texture!)
1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
8 large apples, cut to a 1/2 inch dice
1 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp sugar
- Combine apples, cinnamon, 1 Tbsp flour, and 2 Tbsp sugar in a 9×13 baking dish. Stir to evenly distribute ingredients.
- In a medium bowl, combine butter, nut flour, 1/2 cup all purpose flour, and brown sugar. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients, or use your fingers to meld them together until you have an evenly crumbly mixture.
- Sprinkle topping over the apples evenly, then bake at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes, until the apples are cooked and the topping is browned.
Apple Cake with (the easiest) Carmel
While the ingredient list may be a bit long, this apple cake comes together quickly and is always a winner. It’s a fall classic in my house and perfect for sharing with friends, or keeping on the counter all week long. It makes a great snack, a special sweet breakfast, and a perfect dessert, so I guarantee you’ll have no trouble eating it all. Plus, this caramel, oh this caramel! It is the easiest caramel sauce you can make and requires no culinary skill whatsoever. You can make some for this cake, or just to dip your apples in all fall long!
2 large apples, cut to a small dice
2 cups + 2 Tbsp cane sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 cup vegetable oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
- Prepare an 8×8 square baking dish by buttering and flouring it.
- In a small bowl, stir together apples, cinnamon, and 2 Tbsp sugar. Set aside.
- In a large liquid measuring cup or medium bowl, combine the wet ingredients. Start by whisking together eggs, oil, lemon juice, and vanilla. Once combined, add in the remaining 2 cups of sugar and whisk to combine.
- Stir together dry ingredients in a large bowl until evenly combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and gently stir with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until all the flour clumps have been incorporated.
- Pour about half the batter into the bottom of the pan, then sprinkle a very sparse layer of apples over the batter. Spread the remaining batter over the thin layer of apples, then cover the top with the remaining apples.
- Bake at 350 for about 75 minutes, or until the center is cooked.
- Drizzle entire cake with the caramel, or each slice as you’re serving.
1 cup brown sugar
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
pinch of salt
- Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat and whisk to combine as the butter melts.
- Continue stirring and cooking until the mixture starts to boil lightly. Let it boil for a few minutes, stirring constantly.
- Remove from heat, pour into a glass container, and let cool completely before using.
Now it’s your turn! What are some of your favorite Michigan apple recipes? Comment below.