Nancy’s Apple Torte

Nancy's Apple Torte - A Pat & A Pinch

This recipe comes via my New York based Aunt who, in turn, got it from her sister Nancy. The torte comes together quite easily and is perfect for a dinner party.

Having just read J. Kenji López-Alt’s thoughtful study and discussion of the best apples for apple pie on Serious Eats, I chose to use Golden Delicious apples rather than the McIntosh apples suggested in the original recipe. I was really pleased with the texture and consistency of the apples when the pie had baked.  I have also seen a similar recipe that suggested Granny Smith apples.  I think there is quite a bit of flexibility in your apple choice.

The recipe doesn’t specify whether to use sliced blanched almonds or unblanched almonds. I chose the latter as I wanted the extra colour. I was glad I did.  The torte would look rather pallid in the absence of the touch of colour that the glimpses of almond skin contribute.

Nancy's Apple Torte - A Pat & A Pinch

Crust:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sliced almonds

2 Tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 Tablespoons cold butter, cut in small pieces

1 large egg yolk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Filling:

1 large egg

8 oz. cream cheese

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping:

4 cups peeled and sliced Golden Delicious apples

1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 400 F.  To prepare crust, pulse flour, almonds, sugar and salt in a food processor, using about 10 one-second pulses, until combined.  With the motor running, add butter, a few pieces at a time.  Add egg yolk and vanilla and process until evenly combined (Mixture will look like wet sand).   Pat the crust into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan and about 1-inch up the sides.

To prepare filling, wipe out the food processor.  Add egg, cream cheese, sugar and vanilla; process until smooth.  Spread into the crust.

To prepare topping, toss apples, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and combine.  Spoon over the filling, pressing gently.  Top with almonds.

Bake the torte for 15 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 350 F.  Continue baking until set around the edges, and just a bit jiggly in the center, 20 to 25 minutes more.

Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then remove the pan sides and let cool completely, about 1 hour.  Refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours, before serving.  Serves 10.

Spiced Apple Butter

Spiced Apple Butter - A Pat & A Pinch

My parents live on a property that has the remnants of an old orchard.  The apple trees are larger than ideal and you can tell that they have witnessed a lot of history but they still produce apples.  This weekend the Gravensteins were ready to be picked. Gravensteins are a tasty eating apple, but they aren’t any good for pies. With a bumper crop, they needed to be used and what better solution than apple butter.

Choose a day when you can be home all day to make apple butter: It takes a long time to cook! Mine cooked all day – a good 12 hours in total but I think that that was largely due to the volume I made which necessitated starting it on the cooktop and then shifting it to the oven. It needs to be stirred regularly, but other than the stirring it requires little attention. If I was making a smaller batch, I would simply use the oven or a crock pot – it is so much less effort and requires so much less attention!

I can’t give you a specific recipe for apple butter – it depends on what type(s) of apples you have and how many of them you have.  The good news, however, is that you really don’t need a recipe.

I peeled, sliced  and cored my apples using a peeling and coring gizmo like this.  It yields a spiral sliced apple that I then cut into quarters.  If you have a food mill, you can slice your apples whole with peel and then run the cooked mixture through the mill, but I find beginning with prepared apples easier.

I filled a heavy bottomed 17 litre stock pot to within 2 inches of the top with the apples and added 2 litres of some soft apple cider from a previous year’s bounty that we keep frozen until needed. You could also simply start with a little water or commercial apple juice. I put the pot on low on the cooktop and began to let it cook. The fruit broke down into an applesauce quite quickly.  Gravensteins do break down easily but if you have an apple that doesn’t, you can easily break it down with an immersion blender or with a food mill.

I added spices to taste: my choices were cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and some ground ginger.  For my first batch, I used whole spices tied up in cheese cloth and then supplemented with ground spices.  For the second batch, I went straight to the ground spices. Remember that the apples are going to be reduced by at least half, so the spices you add will concentrate.  You can always add more spices later in the process if you find that you would like more.

As the fruit cooked down, I tasted it for sweetness and added brown sugar to my taste. Again, it is important to remember that the apples will reduce, so be careful not to over sweeten.

When my mixture had reduced by about half, I put it into two uncovered dutch ovens which I placed in a 250 degree F oven.  I continued to cook down the mixture, but in the oven it only needed to be stirred hourly.

The apple butter is done when it is very thick. You can almost slice the mixture and it will retain the “cut”.  By the time it reaches this consistency it is a lovely rich reddish brown colour.

I poured the hot mixture into hot canning jars, filling them to within a quarter inch of the top. I then quickly placed the lids on top.  All of the jars sealed without the need for an additional canning process.

My son loves this on pancakes, but I use it liberally on anything and everything that lends itself well to jam.

Spiced Apple Butter - A Pat & A Pinch