High Altitude Baking: Apple-maple cobbler (recipe)
High Country Baking
Editor’s note: High altitudes makes cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column presents recipes and tips that make baking in the mountains successful. w
Still looking for a Thanksgiving dessert? Apple cobbler is a perfect ending to a meal featuring our country’s favorite fall foods. It’s a beloved dish, and a bath in maple syrup makes this one a standout, imbuing both the fruit and topping with a smooth sweetness and increased complexity. Serve it warm, with cinnamon or vanilla ice cream, for a satisfying dessert that’s particularly suited to cool mountain evenings.
It’s as easy to make as it is to eat. Simply peel and toss the apples in cinnamon-sugar, mix the batter in a single bowl and, in less than 15 minutes, your dessert is in the oven. It’s best the day it’s made, but still pretty good a day later.
Use either Golden Delicious or Granny Smith apples. The Goldens result in a soft, sweet filling; the Grannys in a filling with a little crunch and a tarter taste. Be sure to slice them thinly or they won’t be cooked when the cobbler is done. Grade B or dark amber maple syrup is more robust than the better-known maple syrup that we use on pancakes and is available in many grocery stores; I heartily recommend it.
(Make in a 9-inch-by-9-inch or 8-inch-by-8-inch square baking pan or a 9-inch round cake pan with 2-inch sides.)
6 tablespoons superfine granulated sugar, preferably Baker’s
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon apple juice or dark rum, optional
4 medium-large Golden Delicious or Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced to about an 1/8 inch thick
8 tablespoons (one stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup superfine granulated sugar
½ cup plain yogurt (nonfat is fine)
1 cup all-purpose flour, spoon and level
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ teaspoons vanilla extract
¾ cup pure maple syrup, preferably Grade B or dark amber
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
Make the filling: Whisk the sugar and cinnamon in a medium-sized bowl until combined. Stir in the juice or rum (if using) until sugar mixture is absorbed. Add the apple slices, and toss to coat them well. Let rest for 10 to 15 minutes, so apples can soften and soak up the flavorings.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with the rack in the center position. Grease the baking pan with a vegetable oil-flour spray, and wipe the foam until the pan is evenly coated.
Make the topping: Cut the butter into small pieces, and using an electric mixer (or by hand if the butter is very soft), beat them with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the yogurt, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and vanilla, and beat again until the mixture is smooth.
Place the coated apple slices and any juices in the prepared pan, spreading them evenly all over the bottom and filling the pan no more than a half-inch from the top. Spoon the topping over the apples in the baking pan. The batter will be stiff, so spread it around with your fingers or a spatula. (It goes faster if you wet your hands or your utensil with a little cold water before gently pushing the batter into place.) Make sure all of the apples are covered and the batter is an even depth. Pour the maple syrup all over the batter. If necessary, then tip the pan to spread it evenly. Sprinkle the pecans on next, distributing them evenly over the top of the cobbler.
Place the pan on a foil-lined baking sheet (to catch drips), and bake the cobbler for about 50 to 60 minutes, until the filling is fully baked. To test, stick a toothpick or thin skewer through the layer of apples; the fruit should be very soft and yield easily. The topping should be a deep golden brown. It may color before the filling is done; if it does, cover it loosely with a sheet of aluminum foil, shiny side up.
Remove the cobbler from the oven to a cooling rack. Wait at least 30 minutes before serving it. If cooled, then reheat in a 325-degree oven, loosely covered, until warm to the touch. Serve warm with cinnamon or vanilla ice cream. Store covered in the refrigerator.
This recipe is a variation of one in the “King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion.” Vera Dawson is a high-altitude baking teacher and author of two high-altitude cookbooks, “Baking Above It All” and “Cookies in the Clouds” (available at The Bookworm of Edwards). Her recipes have been tested in her Summit County kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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