Thursday, October 1, 2009

An Autumn Treat

"Friday evenings, people get together,
Hiding from the weather.
Tea and toasted, buttered currant buns
Can't compensate for lack of sun,
Because the summer's all gone."

It's fall in Rhode Island. That means the leaves are turning, the weather is brisk, the sun goes in and out all day, and it's time for some crisp New England apples. I love fall so much. It's my favorite season, except all the other ones. No, really, I couldn't pick a favorite season because I love them all! That's why I could never live in a place that has no seasons, like California. To me, there's nothing better than sitting underneath a big oak tree on the Main Green with a book while the leaves fall all around you- unless it's catching snowflakes with your tongue in winter, or watching the cherry blossoms come out in spring, or having a picnic on a warm summer evening. But each time a new season rolls around, I get convinced that it's the best season, and it's been the same this fall. It's the kind of weather that makes you want to wear some wine-colored corduroys and brown boots and walk around listening to "Autumn Almanac" while staring up at the foliage (all of which I did today, thank you!).

Yesterday was the weekly Brown Farmers' Market. After buying my customary baguette from the Seven Stars Bakery stand and my customary brownie from...that lady who makes really delicious fudgy brownies (gotta get my hands on that recipe), I espied some applesauce at the Hill Orchard stand, and I immediately thought of this recipe.

I had always wanted to make Dorie's Applesauce Spice Bars from page 117 of Baking from My Home to Yours, because the picture just looked incredibly enticing.

The picture

But the number of ingredients in the recipe always threw me. Now that I've made it, I realize it's not that many ingredients, but said ingredients included applesauce, which is not my favorite and is not something that I usually have around (especially now that I'm back at school and back to ghetto baking. I'll take a picture of my "pantry" one day and you'll laugh.) Yet I obtained applesauce, and I had some heavy cream left over from my friend Warren's birthday cake, so I was all set.

These were easy-peasy to make. Though peeling, coring and chopping the Cortland apple was as annoying as such tasks always are, the dough came together beautifully. I left out the optional alcohol (since I'm not 21) and the raisins (since they just didn't seem necessary), but everything was fine with just the apples and pecans.

Better than fine, in fact. These were the reactions the bars inspired:

"Mmm. Mmmm! MMMMM!" -My suitemate Devon

"Rebecca, I just found a recipe that we NEED to make when you come home." -Me, on the phone with Rebecca

And perhaps most indicative of all: I cut fifteen bars. Before I left at 4:00, Devon ate one and I ate one. When I came back, there were four left. Now, there are three girls in my suite besides me. They are all very thin. They think that cauliflower makes the perfect dessert. They're in Running Club. This is not to make them out as anorexics — in fact, they dutifully eat everything I bake. But this is definitely a record.

Everything about these bars makes them perfect for fall. They're cake-like in texture, very moist (although that may just be the dorm oven's chronic tendency to undercook things.) I used Cortland apples, which held up extremely well in the baking- they're practically still juicy, and I love the way they taste with the pecans. Originally, I was going to make another batch of glaze because I thought it was spread too thin, but I was out of brown sugar, and now I'm glad. The glaze is delicious, but its sweetness might have overwhelmed the subtlety of the flavor. If you love baking, apples, fall or all things sweet and good in this world, make these applesauce spice bars!

1 comment:

  1. So glad you wrote about these cookies. I thought they looked so yummy in the cookbook, but like you, I was a bit skeptical about the whole applesauce thing. Looks like Uncle Joel now has a weekend baking project on his schedule.


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