Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Ladies Social Circle Apple Dessert

cookbook shelf

IMG_1473_2I'm in New England, trying to stay warm despite unseasonably raw weather. The warmest refuge, of course, is in the kitchen of my childhood home, surrounded by family for an all-too-rare holiday together. We crowd into the kitchen and around the dining room table, squeezing in conversation as the young cousins run happily through the house.

There's no shortage of food. This is a home with one full-size refrigerator, a smaller supplemental refrigerator, and a standalone freezer, all so full there's a few extra bottles of white wine out chilling on the porch. This is a home where pulling together dinner from leftovers yields five main dishes to choose from.

This is a home with 469 cookbooks. Give or take a few.

The collection, sprawling across seven shelves, reflects a lifetime taking care of others. There are hundreds of small magazines picked up at the grocery market checkout, stacks of large collections (The Best of Shaker Cooking, the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book from the 1960s), and a dizzying array of very specific titles (The Creative Art of Garnishing, the Five Seasons Cranberry Book). Some date back to my mother's time as a newlywed (So Quick With New Bisquick, c. 1967, offers 280 recipes "to aid and abet your ingenuity"). And then there are the titles that appeared after the child-raising days (50 Splenda Recipes, for one, and ... The Hooters Cookbook?!).

The most dog-eared cookbook is the 1945 North Amherst Cookbook, created by the Ladies Social Circle of the North Congregational Church of Amherst, Mass. My mother pulled it out this week to make what is simply titled "Apple Dessert." The women clearly wrote for a savvy audience: Many recipes don't bother with measurements, oven temperatures, or sometimes any baking directions at all. It's heavy on desserts, candies, and cookies, and salted pork.


Apple Dessert, contributed by one Edith French, is similar to an apple cobbler but with "more of a cookie-like topping, instead of a cake-like topping," as my mother puts it. Her grandmother used to prepare it from this same cookbook, and my mother made it for her family when she was growing up and then for her own children. This week, she made it for a fifth generation.

The Ladies Social Circle Apple Dessert

From The North Amherst Cookbook, published in 1945.

4 or 5 apples
1 cup sugar, divided
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. butter, softened

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Peel and slice apples. Fill pie plate or cast iron pan with sliced apples. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon. Bake about 15 minutes.

Remove pie plate or pan from oven and reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Mix remaining 1/2 cup sugar, egg, flour, baking powder, butter, and salt. Dot mixture over apples. Return to oven and bake for 35 minutes.

No comments:


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...