By Wendy King
Since September has been warmer, the recent supply of apples in various hues and flavors seem to be somewhat of a surprise, yet also a reminder that fall is almost here. It is amazing to me that some varieties of apples trace their lineage as far back as the Renaissance. The tasty red orb has certainly survived the centuries. But I am amused by one apple fanatic from the turn of the last century, who hailed from Massachusetts and became a one-man branding force for the fall fruit across this country.
According to a recent article in Yankee Magazine, John Chapman (better known as “Johnny Appleseed”) made it his mission to popularize the fruit. He accomplished this by planting trees from Massachusetts, across the Northwest Ohio Territory, into the West. He was probably not even aware of the phytochemical and fiber power of apples that help combat cholesterol and cancer as well as the potassium they boast to battle high blood pressure! Nevertheless, he was driven to broadcast their value and by 1905, the USDA documented over 14,000 American varieties.
Today there are 100 types grown commercially, who knew? “Antique varieties” such as Calville Blanc d’Hiver, Cox’s Orange Pippin, and the intriguing Northern Spy, are making a comeback. Flavors vary widely as does the value for their use in baking, stewing, or eating. Baldwins, Braeburns, or even Granny Smiths work well in this favorite recipe, featured below. Originally shared by my mother’s friend over 40 years ago, this recipe is still popular in our family today.
Chunky Apple Cake
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cups canola oil (or substitute 1 cup Greek yogurt + 1/2 cup oil)
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
3 cups apples, peeled and rough chopped
1 cup walnuts
Preheat oven to 350. Beat eggs until light and fluffy, but not stiff. Stir in ingredients through vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients through baking soda. Mix dry ingredients into wet, a little at a time. Then, add apples and walnuts, stirring to combine.
Pour mixture into a greased 9×13 pan. Bake at 350 for 35 – 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!