Let’s start with the simplest recipe, applesauce. You can leave out the butter, but it does give it a nice, rich consistency.
2 lbs. tart apples, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored, and chopped
1/4 cup or more to taste, granulated sugar
Juice of 1 lemon and 1/2 tsp. of grated zest
Pinch of salt
Pinch of cinnamon, if desired
4 Tbsp. butter, cut into pieces
Place chopped apples in heavy, non-reactive saucepan with the next four ingredients. Add about a half to a cup of water and cook over medium heat, stirring or shaking the pan occasionally, until apples have broken down and are tender, about 15 minutes. Taste and add more sugar if desired.
Take pan off the heat and stir in butter. You can keep the applesauce chunky or puree it in the blender for smoother sauce. If you add butter, it is best to serve warm. This will keep in the refrigerator for about four days.
Margaret’s Apple Cake
This recipe for apple cake is one of my favorites, from one of my favorite books, Richard Sax’s “Classic Home Desserts.”
Makes one 13-by-9-inch cake. Serves 12 to 16.
21/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp. salt
1 cup softened butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup buttermilk or mixture of plain yogurt thinned with milk
2 cups peeled, cored, diced (1/2 inch) apples (about 4 small)
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. flour
11/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3 Tbsp. cold butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans or almonds
Preheat oven to 350. Butter the baking pan and set aside. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat butter with electric mixer at medium-high speed until creamy. Gradually add the two sugars and beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until smooth. Add dry ingredients alternating with buttermilk or yogurt mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Stir in apples just until blended. Do not overtax. Pour mixture into prepared pan.
For the topping, in a bowl or food processor, cut together the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and butter until crumbly. Stir in the nuts, and then scatter over the cake batter in an even layer.
Bake cake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 50 minutes.
Cool on rack and serve warm or at room temperature.