For most people, apple season has just begun. Me? I’ve been thinking about apples for the past two months – in preparation for a feature article I wrote for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Through research, interviewing and recipe testing, I learned a whole bunch about apples – and the people who grow them. Tom Ferguson, president of the Wisconsin Apple Growers Association, told me he eats 4 to 5 apples a day once his apples come in (holy cow!). Both him and Dave Flannery gave me some great advice for making the perfect apple pie…use several different varieties. Ideally a mix of tart and sweet (I think I nailed my French Apple Pie with Apricots when I mixed Viking and Gala). Although most people love adding Granny Smith, those apples are rarely grown in Wisconsin, so support your state and buy local varieties (like Honeycrisp, Snowsweet, Zestar, Fuji, McIntosh…the list goes on).
In my article I included a recipe for Apple Butter that I found on Martha Stewart’s web site. I love the fact that there’s no added sugar (almost every recipe I’ve seen has at least a few cups of sugar). Still, this recipe has all the flavor you want from apple butter with the unique citrus twist of lemon.
I love putting apple butter on toast, as a topping for waffles or even straight out of the jar (just a spoonful, I promise!). But when I found myself out of granola yesterday, I figured there must be a way I could mesh the two together. And thankfully for the blog, On Food and Baking, I found what I was looking for – Apple Butter Granola. I veered from the recipe slightly based on what I had in my pantry.
Apple Butter Granola
Adapted from On Food and Baking
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup cranberry pecan cereal
½ cup chopped almonds
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup maple syrup
½ cup honey
½ cup apple butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. In a medium-sized bowl, combine oats, cereal, almonds and cranberries. Stir to combine.
In a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Gradually add to dry mixture until clumpy. Pour onto a large casserole dish (mine is from Rachel Ray). Bake for 30 minutes, flip mixture with a spatula, and bake for an additional 15 minutes, stir and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until it begins to brown (so bake for about an hour total). Let cool before storing in an air-tight container.
I also love that there isn’t any oil in this recipe. Yes, maple syrup and honey pack a fair amount of calories, but it’s all for flavor. And considering the amount of granola this makes (about 5 1/2 cups), it doesn’t bother me.
Question: What are your favorite ways to eat/use apple butter?