Haralson, Honeycrisp, Honeygold, Prairie Spy, Regent, Beacon, Red Baron and dozens of other varieties of apples have all been developed at the University of Minnesota. We may be known for our 10,000 lakes, but few people outside of the state realize that we are also a leader in apples. I didn’t realize this until my friend Stephen Durfee came to visit. Yes, it took a pastry chef from CA to show me what treasures were right in my own back yard. He set up a tasting with one of the “breeders” from the University and my education of apples began at a coffee shop on campus. We tried several of their latest and greatest developments and I realized for the first time the subtle and not so subtle differences of the fruit. The textures, acid, sugars and skins were all incredibly different, she talked about the characters as though we were tasting a bottle of fine wine.
I grew up in Vermont thinking that McIntosh apples were the end all, but realize now that there are apples to satisfy my every mood; crisp, luscious, sweet, spicy, tangy, juicy, tart, even nutty. I’ve learned to combine them in my recipes to get a more complex and interesting flavor and mouth feel. Some of the apples will keep their shape when baked and others will turn to sauce. Depending on the variety you choose it may affect the amount of sugar that you use in the recipe. This cake is rather sweet and rich so I like to use tart apples, combined with the layer of pear. This delicious recipe was the inspiration for my very first post on ZoeBakes, before I owned a camera. I make it every year at this time, with different apples and a this year I added the pears. (more…)