Dorcas Annette Walker
The month of October heralds autumn at its best here in the Tennessean Mountains. The warm temperatures drop, frost arrives, and leaves change into many hues setting the mountains ablaze with brilliant colors. Gardens die and the last bustle of canning and preserving is done to save remaining crops. Apples are in abundance and there is nothing like the tantalizing aroma of spicy apple butter cooking slowly or apple pie filling being made. While I’m busy in the kitchen I always like to pop something in the oven. When I work with apples I usually end up making an Apple Danish somewhere along the line.
Here are some apple facts for you. Apples were the favorite fruit of the ancient Greeks and Romans and have been around since 6500 B.C. The pilgrims planted the first apple tree in Massachusetts. In colonial times apples were called winter banana or melt-in-your-mouth. The crabapple is the only apple native to North America. 2,500 varieties of apples are grown in all fifty states making apples available year round. The Red Delicious apple is the most popular apple here in the United States. The apple blossom is the state flower of Michigan and Arkansas. It is the state fruit of: Minnesota, Rhode Island, New York, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, and Illinois. One out of every four apples harvested in the U.S. is exported.
Apples are members of the rose family. Most apple blossoms are pink when they first open, but gradually fade to white. Apple trees can grow over 40 feet high and live over 100 years. Apple trees take four to five years to bear and it takes the energy of 50 leaves to produce one apple. Today most apples are still picked by hand. Fresh apples float because 25% of their volume is air. The largest apple weighed three pounds. The longest apple peel was created by a New York sixteen year old girl in 1976. The peel was 172 feet and 4 inches long.
Americans eat 19.6 pounds of fresh apples annually. Apples are fat, sodium, and cholesterol free; a medium apple contains 80 calories and 5 grams of fiber. Don’t peel your apple as two-thirds of the fiber and antioxidants are found in the peel. Two pounds of apples make a one-inch pie. A bushel of apples will yield 20-24 quarts of applesauce while it takes 36 apples to create one gallon of cider.
3 c self-rising flour
1 c shortening
¼ c sugar
½ c cold milk
2 qt apple pie filling
2 c powdered sugar
¼ c shortening
1 tsp vanilla
¼ c milk
To make the pastry mix together the first five ingredients until a ball forms. Divide in half and roll dough out thin in a rectangular shape on a floured surface. Place the crust in a greased large tray. Spread the apple pie filling over the crust. Roll out the second crust to match, fold in fourths, and unfold on top of the apple filling. Bake at 350º for 45 minutes.
Beat together in a small bowl the powdered sugar, shortening, vanilla, and milk until smooth. Ice the baked crust with the frosting and garnish with cinnamon! Preparation time is around 25 minutes (not counting baking time) and this recipe makes 24 pieces.
Weekly tip: To ripen an apple store at room temperature in a paper bag. Otherwise keep apples in the refrigerator or cool cellar. Just make sure that the apples are firm and don’t have any spots or bruising!