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Food
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Kitchen Mailbox Countdown to Dinner Dining
Skillet Cake: Kitchen Mailbox overflows with apple desserts

Thursday, September 28, 2000

By Arlene Burnett, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

It's inexpensive, it's healthful, it tastes good and you don't have to worry about slipping on its skin.

 
Harvest Apple Skillet Cake can be made in any 12-inch oven-proof skillet. (John Beale, Post-Gazette) 

You guessed it -- we're talking about the apple.

Western Pennsylvania is in the height of the apple season -- September through November -- and Kitchen Mailbox features four absolutely delectable apple desserts.

When Irma Jean Irwin of Cranberry wrote to request a recipe for "the best apple cake I have ever tasted," readers sent us apple desserts that not only treat the palate but the eye as well.

The most unusual recipe is probably Harvest Apple Skillet Cake, which can be made in any 12-inch oven-proof skillet. The ingredients we listed are from the original recipe, but we changed a few of the directions: Instead of keeping the apples intact, we sliced them into half-moon shapes. Then we overlapped the apple half-slices, making a circle on the outer rim of the skillet. Continue overlapping the apples until you reach the center.

Serve with a good quality ice cream (cinnamon ice cream is wonderful) with this cake and you have the ultimate dessert.

If the recipe sounds a bit too difficult, it might help to know that 1 pound of apples equals approximately 3 medium apples or 2 3/4 cups chopped or sliced.

 
 
Apple facts


Here are three fun facts to toss around over an apple dessert:

The phrase "apple of here (his) eye" began in the 1700s, meaning a person's beloved

Thank the Roman playwright Plautus for the phrase "don't upset the apple cart." It's from his play "Epiducus" of 255 B.C.

'There are approximately 7,500 varieties of apples throughout the world, though only 20 are grown commercially in this country.

   
 

Some common varieties of apples are:

Red Delicious, the favorite eating apple.

Golden Delicious, good for salads and baking.

McIntosh, a juicy apple that's great for applesauce.

Granny Smiths, a tart apple that cooks and bakes well.

Gala, good for eating and salads.

Jonathan, good for baking.

Fuji, good for eating out of hand.

And dozens more.

One apple contains approximately 80 calories and has 5 grams of fiber, or 20 percent of the amount recommended that we eat each day. Apples have no fat, sodium or cholesterol (only animal products contain cholesterol, of course).

The Granny Smith apple was supposedly named after Australian Maria Ana Smith, who in the 1860s cultivated seedlings from French crabapples thrown out in her back yard.

It's your choice which variety goes into Dutch Apple Cake. It is a made-from-scratch moist yellow cake with rows of apples baked golden. The sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar completes the fall look of this cake.

On the flip side is Apple Upside Down Cake, which is made with a packaged cake mix and can be whipped together in about 15 minutes. We used a combination of Granny Smith and Jonathan apples for both these recipes.

Need a delicious cake to feed a crowd? Dutch Apple Cake will do. It's made in a jelly roll pan (the pastry was easy to work with -- a real plus). The baked apples actually glisten!

And finally, no apple story would be complete without mentioning Johnny Appleseed, whose real name was John Chapman. Chapman traveled through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois and Indiana planting 100,000 square miles of apple orchards. Some of these trees are still bearing fruit.


Sources: "The Great Food Almanac," by Irena Chalmers, the Produce for Better Health Foundation and the Produce Marketing Association.

Related Recipes:

Mary's Dutch Apple Cake
Apple Upside Down Cake
Harvest Apple Skillet Cake
Lillian's Dutch Apple Cake



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