Pumpkin spice? Sooo 2010s. Online searches, reader polls, and data trends over the past couple years have revealed that apple reigns as the autumn ingredient of choice. After all, the humble fruit offers more versatility than the seasonal gourd. Apple recipes fall into both sweet and savory territories. Stew the fruit with cinnamon and sugar to create a luscious pie filling, or roast slices with pork tenderloin to add subtle sweetness to the meat. You can get ambitious and playful with apple recipes, spending all day assembling an eye-catching layer cake—or, if pressed for time, turn out an elegant galette in under an hour.
Across the South (particularly in the Southeast, Upper South, and Mid-Atlantic), numerous apple varieties are cropping up in markets, farm stands, and orchards. So we’re shelving the canned pumpkin and falling hard into cobblers, pies, cakes, and more.
Apple Recipes to Inspire a Trip to the Orchard
This modest, rustic cake is rooted in the mountains of Tennessee and Kentucky. Its ingredients all have fairly long shelf lives, making it a ready (and affordable) project to make any time the urge strikes. You can use store-bought apple butter, but for a true homesteading experience, try making your own.
These fried hand pies are the brainchild of chefs Travis Milton and Lisa Donovan. Don’t be deterred by the name: Black pepper commonly makes its way into baking recipes in the form of allspice. The dash used here lends a little extra spice to the stewed-down filling.
Every baker needs a classic apple pie recipe up their sleeve. This one comes from Ali Rudel of East Durham Pie Co. (now closed) in North Carolina. It dresses up the traditional pie by adding a touch of bourbon and a hard cider caramel sauce to the filling.
Apple cider donuts aren’t just New England specialties. Created by our own test kitchen, these cinnamon-sugar-tossed treats have buttermilk in the dough which lends a little tanginess that cuts through the syrup-and-cider sweetness. Enjoy with coffee or hot mulled cider.
Apple Butter Oatmeal Cream Pies
The oatmeal cream pies of your childhood get a gourmet makeover in these cookie sandwiches filled with a cinnamon-spiked cream cheese filling. Despite the name, these cookies actually contain no jarred apple butter but rather a large apple that roasts and caramelizes in the oven.
Two harvest season staples meet in this dessert from Buttercream Bakeshop (now closed) in Washington, D.C. Mountains of sautéed and spiced gala apples get enveloped by pillowy sweet potato biscuits. Note that the apples themselves do not cook further as the cobbler bakes in the oven, so make sure to sauté them to the desired softness before assembly.
Apple Cider Pound Cake with Caramel Sauce
Not a fan of pie? Put this dreamy apple cider cake onto the Thanksgiving dessert table and watch your family swoon. The cake not only has a brown-sugar glaze, but slices get served with a cider-caramel sauce. With apples, bourbon, cardamom, mace, and pecans, this cake is fall in bundt-pan form.
Save this apple recipe for a weeknight when your sweet tooth kicks in. The simple list of ingredients calls for pantry items and just a handful of apples (only four!). If you don’t have walnuts, try substituting pecans, cashews, or toasted hazelnuts into the crumble topping.
This open-face tart has everything: apples and pears. A cashew-flecked crust. Warm, thick drizzles of homemade caramel to finish. Try toasting the oats to add a rich, nutty flavor to the crumble. And don’t shy from the goat cheese crumbles in the filling—they turn into little pockets of tangy cream between bites of fruit.
Eatymology: Apple Butter
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