It’s too bad aromas can’t be sent virtually. My house is filled with the wonderful smell of apples and cinnamon. Today’s recipe from the 1906 Berlin Cook Book is in a section called Fruits in Various Ways and includes Apples a Dozen Ways. The dozen apple recipes includes one for Boiled Apples. No one is credited for the recipe so I’m assuming that the group of women working to make the cook book a reality must have found recipes from some other sources and added them.
The recipe calls for a porcelain kettle. This isn’t the sort of kettle used for boiling water for tea. Instead it is a preserving kettle – a large flat-bottomed pot with a smooth interior and sloping sides. They were used for making all sorts of sticky preserves like jam and jelly and other cooked items like pickles and relish since they were easier to clean than other pots. I have found granite ware preserving kettles at local hardware stores but they don’t come with covers. However, the lid of the granite ware canner sold next to it works. My apples are from the Kitchener Market where I can usually find a selection of different varieties.
I decided to experiment a little with this recipe. I didn’t want to use 12 apples so instead I made the recipe with one Northern Spy apple and one Macintosh apple to see if it made a difference in the end result. I had to guess for the quantity of sugar but used about 1/4 cup. The apples need some attention while cooking as they can go from almost ready to too soft very quickly. I added cinnamon to one portion of sauce and added lemon to the other to compare that flavour too. Both sauces had a bit of butter. My style of cooking fits with older cook books as I tend to cook by feel rather than exact measurements. Many of these recipes do use exact measures but others use terms like “knob of butter” or “about the size of an egg” or “when the dough is stiff enough”. You need to have a feel for the art of cooking rather than just the science of cooking to use an older cookbook. I cook with my eyes and nose as well as my sense of taste. There are even times when cooking is about listening. This recipe calls for all the senses. It took approximately 15 minutes to boil the apples although mine was more of a simmer. The size and variety of the apple will affect time.
My side by side taste test results are very personal. Not unexpectedly the Macintosh version was sweeter than the Northern Spy apple. The Mac had a fluffier texture while the Spy was firmer even when the skin had split. I liked the cinnamon sauce better than the lemon although the lemon did cut some of the sweetness of the Mac. In the end I combined my sauces and that was nice too! I think you need to choose the apple you prefer and I think skipping the sauce and even the sugar is an option too.
This is a great recipe for a quick simple winter dessert and I agree with the author “these are good for a change”. I like baked apples but sometimes it seems silly to turn on the oven. The boiled apples are stove top cooking and require just a few ingredients. I will definitely make it again.
Select 1 dozen nice juicy apples. Wash and cut out the blossom end, and remove the stems. Set the apples in the bottom of a porcelain kettle, pour in water to the depth of 1/2 an inch, sprinkle over them 1 teacup of sugar, and cover closely until the apples are soft, but not broken.Then with a perforated ladle take up the apples, and to the remaining syrup add a small lump of butter and a little cinnamon or lemon flavoring [sic]. Pour over the apples and serve hot. These are very good for a change.