It’s another one of those years when our Gravenstein apple tree is bearing more fruit than we know what to do with. A couple of years ago, I noted that Luther Burbank once wrote: “It has often been said that if the Gravenstein could be had throughout the year, no other apple need be grown.” Also that it can’t “be had” any time but July and August. And under the right conditions — like this year’s very warm spring — it can “be had” so overwhelmingly that anyone with one of these trees in their backyard feels like they’re the one that’s been had — as if the apples have somehow managed to take over.
We’re giving away the best apples to anyone who will take them. As for the others, with bruises and so forth, I just cut off the damaged parts and freeze the rest as is. I was making quick applesauce for awhile, but even that wasn’t fast enough to keep up with the supply.
However, while I was still doing that, and filling up the fridge with applesauce in everything from Mason jars to Slurpee cups, I finally got around to something I’d been meaning to try for years — making apple butter. This is pretty much just applesauce that’s cooked down, either in a slow oven or over low heat on the stove, till it’s very thick and caramelized. It takes up less space than applesauce and a lot less space than whole apples, and you can even substitute it for regular butter in baking. (Not completely, but as foodsubs.com says, it “can replace up to ¾ of the shortening in many recipes.”)
- 1-⅔ cups quick oatmeal
- 1-½ cups all-purpose flour
- ⅔ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup salted butter (chilled)
- ¾ cup unsweetened apple butter (chilled)
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 large apple
- Cinnamon sugar for sprinkling.
- ½ cup unsweetened dried coconut
- Preheat oven to 350℉ and butter a 10-inch pie or cake pan.
- Mix the oatmeal, flour, and sugar together in a large bowl.
- Cut the butter into several chunks.
- Add the butter, apple butter, and vanilla extract to the flour/oatmeal mixture.
- With an electric mixer (or a fork or pastry blender if you’re feeling energetic), mix everything together till the butters are in garbanzo-size chunks.
- Spread half of this mixture in the greased pan.
- Wash and peel the apple, and shred down to the core with a cheese grater.
- Spread the shredded apple over the flour-oatmeal layer.
- Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, then coconut.
- Spread the rest of the flour-oatmeal mixture over this.
- Bake for about 30 minutes or until top layer is crisp and lightly browned.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.