Happy Mother's Day to Gram!
Gram's Apple Torte uses home grown and hand picked Butternuts
Grandma's and Grandpa's farm boasted over 200 acres with part it on the upper bluffs and a portion along the Chippewa River flats. That lower portion was full of butternut trees and allowed us to harvest the easily off the ground. Butternuts boast a smooth, buttery taste, so they make for a nice addition to this apple torte. But, they are tough nuts to crack.
Gram would hold out her oversized cobbler apron while we kids ran around gathering up the butternuts to toss into her ready made sack. When it got too heavy for her we'd load them into the trunk of her old 1950's Ford sedan and take them to the farmhouse to spread out on the floor of the upstairs to dry for a few months. By Christmas time we would haul however many she needed for holiday baking and crack them with hammers. Then we'd dig out the delicious meats. She called the edible insides "nutmeats."
Gram always made this in a large 9"x13" cake pan for big crowds. But, I make it in an 8" or 9" square or round cake pan for a smaller group. I cut everything in half but still used the 3-4 apples, and baked it a few minutes to make sure the apples were done. And, since I don't always have butternuts like Gram did, I add walnuts or pecans, whichever I have on hand.
Don't give up if you find a mistake in the original recipe!
So, I have to admit something before you dig into this recipe. I was moving right along making the filling and realized that something just didn't seem right. I kept looking at her recipe and back at the ingredients in my bowl. It should have been more like a cake batter. So, I tried to find Gram's original recipe (What I had was a copy of her recipe.). Couldn't find it. Looked at the list of ingredients. Ah hah! There was no flour listed. I knew that if there is baking soda in the recipe, usually it calls for flour, too.
Okay, what should I do? Look further for her original handwritten recipe or try to figure out what to do? I couldn't find the original but I did find a recipe card for a similar recipe that was written in Mom's handwriting. There were the same ingredients, with 3/4 cup of flour listed. But, Mom's process of putting what ingredients in the pie pan first and last were a little different. So, since I had already stirred all of the diced apples in with the butter and sugar, I decided to pick out all the apple pieces - it only took a minute. Then I added the flour to the bowl that still had the butter, sugar and baking soda and mixed them together. I added the apple pieces back in and stirred everything together. It came out of the oven delicious! I call it the "great apple torte mistake." My husband loved it!
Apple Nut Torte filling:
1 C Sugar
1/4 C Butter, soft
1 t Baking soda
3/4 C - 1 C Flour
1/2 t Cinnamon
Pinch of Salt
3-4 Apples (Greenings)
1/2 C Butternuts, rough chopped
- Butter a 9"x13" baking pan, like a cake pan.
- Mix all of the Torte ingredients and place in the pan.
- Bake at 350F degrees for 30 minutes.
1/2 C Brown sugar
1/2 C Sugar
1/2 C Butter
1/4 C Cream
1 T Flour
1 t Vanilla extract
Stir and cook all the sauce ingredients together until it becomes somewhat syrupy. Serve it on the cake while it's still warm. If you don't want to mess with making the sauce, just use some caramel sauce you would put on ice cream. Gram usually had homemade whipped cream in the refrigerator ready to top the torte. It's that easy and delicious!
Gram would use fresh cream for many of her recipes and for homemade whipping cream. It had a more luscious texture and richer flavor than today's whipped creams. It also had a light yellow tinge to it, reminiscent of the yellow tinted cream that would rise to the top of her big two-quart milk jars.
Every morning after the first milking of the day, Gramps would bring in a fresh bottle of milk. The bottle had a narrow top and Gram would cover the opening with a small plastic elasticized cover (like a miniature shower cap). Within a couple of hours the thick cream would have risen to the top in a rich yellow-white color. What had risen to the top usually gave Gram enough cream for the entire day's baking and cooking. I remember Gramps had Guernseys and a few Holsteins and he bragged that the Guernseys made much richer milk while the Holsteins made a larger volume of milk. Now, why would I remember that when he got out of milking cows so many years ago in the mid-1960's?
Serve it up morning, noon or evening.
Serve it up with homemade whipping cream while the torte is still warm. Add just a little more caramel sauce on top and you have a cozy little dessert to follow any meal or just to have for a snack. Sometimes I even have a small serving for breakfast with fresh strawberries or blueberries and a glass of milk or a cup of coffee.
Create your own traditions and memories.
Take the time to shop your favorite local orchards. Share the experience with the kids and have a fun time picking apples, getting "lost" in the corn mazes, lugging pumpkins, shooting apple catapults, eating caramel apples, apple donuts, wagon rides, slides, photo opps along with other fun things that your local apple orchards have created. Orchards have turned into fun destination spots, not just for apple picking. Remember, you don't have to be a kid to enjoy, just behave LIKE a kid. Enjoy your own favorite apple recipe or try mine.