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Apple recipes to cozy up to for fall

A variety of apples
The wide variety of apples means there’s lots to make with them for a festive beginning of fall.
(Rebecca Peloquin/For The Times)

As I sit writing this, I’m eating a bear claw doughnut, filled with apples and cinnamon-sugar. Two nights ago, I made an apple-studded cake, rich with dates and hazelnuts. And this weekend, I’m definitely baking an apple pie to use up a mix of beautiful farmers market apples I bought last week — before they go bad. The pie won’t be for dessert, but rather, my breakfast for the next week. If you can’t tell, apple baked goods are to me what Pumpkin Spice® is to others: There’s no getting through fall without it.

One of the most iconic “fall” foods for me is apple butter. A thick spread of pureed apples, cooked down with sugar, lemon juice and vanilla bean, it’s fall’s warm answer to summer’s bright, acidic plum jams. Fittingly, it’s also the next fruit preserve in our four-part series called “L.A. in a Jar,” where I chronicle easy ways to preserve the best fruit in Southern California for each season.

Once I’ve made a big enough batch of apple butter to fill a dozen jars, though, I keep plenty more apples around for all sorts of other baking projects. I dice them small to mix with a cinnamon-spiced batter to make a fritter doughnut-like cake. I chop them slightly larger to mix with a custard batter for a tender bread pudding-like schalet. And I love giant, generous chunks when making a bubbling hot crisp, or a domed pie encased in a nutmeg-flecked flaky pie crust.

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No matter what I’m doing or where I am, when it’s October, I’m eating apples until I can’t stand it anymore. The dozens of varieties available in markets keep things interesting all season until I’m finally ready to succumb to pumpkin a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving.

Master Apple Butter Recipe

This recipe makes an apple butter that is less sweet than most; use more sugar if you like, but don’t use less or there won’t be enough to properly preserve the pureed apples. Make your first apple butter plain so you can taste the flavor of the apples. But if you prefer flavorings, add half a vanilla bean, a cinnamon stick or some grated nutmeg to the apple butter while it bakes.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 5 hours, mostly unattended.

Apple Butter
(Rebecca Peloquin/For The Times)

Apple Fritter Cake with Butterscotch Glaze

Cutting the apples so small allows them to cook through and keeps them from weighing down the batter. Store the glazed cake in an airtight container and you’ll see that each day after it’s made, it will become more and more moist. While it makes a great dessert cake, it’s also wonderful with a cup of coffee for breakfast or as an afternoon snack.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 1 hour, 15 minutes.

 Apple Fritter Cake with Butterscotch Glaze
(Silvia Razgova)

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Apple Schalet

Schalet refers to a sweetened steamed bread pudding, closely related to kugel. Schalets are often filled with apple or pear and make a warming side dish or dessert. They can also be prepared with softened matzo meal for Passover.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 1 hour, 45 minutes.

Apple Crisp

A ton of apples are topped with a mixture of oatmeal and flour, butter and cinnamon, and put in the oven until golden, bubbly and crisp on top. It’s ideal paired with a bowl of unsweetened whipped cream.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 1 hour, 20 minutes.

Oven-Fried Apple Pie with Spiced Shortening Crust

The secret is shortening, which not only makes the crust extra flaky, but also eliminates the need to chill the crust before rolling. Fresh apple cider adds a subtle sweetness to the crust and makes it tender.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 2 1/2 hours.

Oven-fried apple pie
(Evan Sung/For The Times)

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