Monday, January 12, 2015

Apple Youling - a reason to enjoy apples in Winter

Learned a new historical fact this month.  On 12th night, which was January 6, 12 days after Christmas, in England they used to go out into the apple orchards and toast the trees and bless them with a tasting of last year’s cider.  Of course that cider was fermented (kinda like the hard cider that is enjoying such popularity these days.)  As a result drunken rowdiness occurred giving the day the name Apple Youling (or Howling.)

courtesy of istock

So why apples you ask?

Well remember water was rarely pure and often harbored disease so even in the early years of this country Apple Cider was a very important drink and if some got fermented all the better.

In those days apples were seen as being a cure for many things.  You remember that phrase “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.”  We know now they are high in antioxidants, which reverse the aging process.  They also contain flavonoids, phytonutrients and a goof amount of fiber.  With all those compounds working for you it is actually a good idea to eat that apple a day.

I suggest celebrating Apple Youling with a drink of apple cider and an apple themed treat.  Try one of these:

Apple Crumble
Similar to a cobbler, but the crust is sweeter and crumbly.

5 cups of apples - Granny Smith, Macintosh, or related apples will do
1/3 cup water
3/4 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 pound (1 stick) of butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Peel and slice the apples. Spread them in a buttered 1- 1/2 quart baking dish. Sprinkle the apples with water. In a separate bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add 1 stick of butter a little at a time, using a pastry blender to cut the piece in so that the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Spread evenly over the top of the apples and bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until the crust browns.

This one is a bit more complicated, but if you love donuts this is a great way to control the ingredients and the sugar.  Chas loves these without the sugar coating and I have to agree they are tasty that way, especially with English Breakfast Tea.

Baked Applesauce Cinnamon Doughnuts

2 packages dry yeast
¼ cup warm water (105-115°)
5¾ cups all-purpose flour, divided
1¼ cups unsweetened applesauce

1/3 cup margarine, melted
2 eggs
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt

To coat before baking:
2 tablespoons melted margarine

To coat after baking:
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon (or BYP Cinnful Dessert Blend)
2 tablespoons melted margarine

Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Add 3 cups flour, applesauce, margarine, eggs, spices, and salt; beat at low speed with electric mixer until moistened. Beat at medium speed for an additional 2 minutes. Stir in 2 cups of flour, ½ cup at a time, to form a soft dough. Turn out onto a well-floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes); add enough remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands. Place dough in a bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in bulk. Punch dough down, and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll dough to ½ inch thickness; cut with a lightly floured 2½ inch doughnut cutter. Combine doughnut holes and any remaining scraps of dough; reroll to ½ inch thickness and cut as before.

Place doughnuts on baking sheets coated with cooking spray; brush 2 tablespoons melted margarine over doughnuts. Let rise, uncovered, in a warm, draft-free place for 40 minutes.
Combine sugar and cinnamon in a large zip-top heavy-duty plastic bag, and set aside. Bake doughnuts at 425° for 8 minutes or until golden. Immediately brush remaining 2 tablespoons melted margarine over baked doughnuts; add doughnuts to plastic bag. Seal the bag and shake to coat. Yield: 3 dozen doughnuts.

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