Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Felicity's Apple Butter and Breakfast Puffs

A tasty accompaniment to pretty much anything!

Fall is probably my favorite season. I love the way the leaves change, Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, and I'm a big fan of sweatshirt weather, even if it's still hard to believe it's already dark at six thirty at night.

I'm also a fan because apples are one of my favorite fruits, and I've been waiting to break out this particular recipe for quite some time! Actually, probably since this time last year, when I just kind of ran out of time to make it. Since I really didn't want that to happen again, this was actually the first blog post I did for the month... and then I got lazy, and didn't post it for several weeks. Oh well!

The important thing is that it's happening now, so without further ado, apple butter, plus bonus breakfast puffs!

Apple butter is mentioned in Felicity Learns a Lesson, the second book in Felicity's six book core series. In it, Felicity is frustrated by how much work goes into something that she ultimately doesn't think is worth the work - one pound of apples makes about a pint of apple butter, and cooking large batches of it takes all day. It's hot and stuffy in the kitchen, and she'd much rather be outside having fun. I personally didn't think it was quite as time consuming or frustrating as Felicity did, but you have to remember, I wasn't doing it in a heavy dress, stays, and petticoats next to an open flame in a not very well ventilated house!

Part of why I was so excited to try out this recipe for myself is because Felicity Learns a Lesson was actually probably the real gateway drug into American Girl for me. I remember my mom reading my Kirsten's books, and I definitely liked them, but when I was in third grade, our major social studies unit was about early colonial America, and I thought it was fascinating. I realized we had one of the colonial American Girl's books thanks to my grandmother picking a few extra AG books up from various book fairs (she was a teacher for a long time), and went off to investigate. After powering through the book, I had a new favorite fictional character and a book series I desperately wanted to finish.

This recipe comes straight from Felicity's Cookbook, and since it's technically aimed at eight to twelve year olds, I'm not sure how truly authentic it is to what Felicity would have been helping her mother and Rose make. That being said, it's a very straight forward recipe.

You start by boiling three cups of apple cider (this takes about fifteen minutes to do), and adding about six large apples which have been peeled, cored and diced. These cook on the stove over low heat for about an hour.

Once the apples are soft, you mash them with a potato masher (or other pulverizing device) and add 1/4 of a cup of honey, plus 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon of cloves and 1/4 teaspoon of allspice, all very colonial spices! Mix this all in until it's well combined, and then cook the butter over low heat for about half an hour. It should cool in about fifteen minutes when it's done.

I was sort of expecting this to have a thicker consistency. After all, it's called butter, not sauce, and I don't really think this is something you can successfully spread on anything. I hoped it would congeal a little while it cooled off, but it remained the consistency of thick applesauce the entire time. This isn't a bad thing! But it definitely wasn't what I was expecting.

It's also a little misleading, because it seems like it's going to be something you might be able to eat quite a bit of, like you would with applesauce. I say "seems" because the spices are kind of too strong to eat an entire bowl full of it, but it can still be used like applesauce in other recipes! You could absolutely add it to oatmeal, and my mom actually used some of it to make a variation of a bread recipe she'd found in a Food Network magazine. It's a little too runny to really be used like jam, but you could still put it on toast if you wanted!
The cookbook recommends serving the apple butter with johnnycakes (which will be saved for another post) or breakfast puffs. The cookbook doesn't actually really explain what breakfast puffs are, so I sort of assumed they would be something similar to a biscuit. The pictures certainly seemed to suggest that's what the end product would look like!

But about halfway through getting the ingredients together, I started wondering if maybe they were actually popovers. They seemed awfully eggy for a muffin or biscuit, and having never made or eaten popovers before, I was intrigued to see how this would go.

I'm pleased to report it went well!

Most other popover recipes I've seen seemed to imply that they were fussy or difficult to make, but these really weren't. I don't think I like them as much as a biscuit, or a good roll, but they were still fun to make and nosh on after they were done, and the apple butter did taste good on them.

Overall? Definitely not a bad peek into the past, and certainly not the nightmarish chore certain fictional impatient nine year olds would leave you to believe it would be. (Not that I really have a leg to stand on here, if I was a colonial nine year old, I'd hate it, too.) I'm often a little wary of trying out recipes from the official American Girl Cook Books, as we've had a couple dingers or things gone wrong before, but this one I'd say turned out pretty well. My only issue with it is that I'm not actually certain this is how thick the butter was supposed to be, and I'm interested enough in the subject that I'd consider trying to find another recipe and see how the two compare. Maybe not for a while, though - we've got quite a bit of it leftover in our fridge!

But if nothing else, I guess that gives us something to do next fall!

Along with the six billion other fall recipes I've been sitting on...


  1. *From Julie's doll mom:*

    Hmmm...I love apple butter, and my mom used to buy it in the cooler seasons all the time. I'm wondering would a bit of cornstartch help thicken the consistency?

    1. If I make it again, I'll definitely give it a shot! What was the apple butter your mom used to buy like?

    2. *From Julie's doll mom:*

      It was just stuff from the grocery store. It was definitely spreadable, kinda like thin jelly, or stiff applesauce.

    3. Cool! Maybe I'll have to go out and find some to compare it to.

  2. You can get a good consistency for the apple butter if you just let it boil down. It should have a good spreadable thickness... but I've found with this recipe that it usually takes a few hours. It's worth it, though! I make multiple batches of it every fall, and have to boil it so that it's cooking all day. The shortcut of using cider rather than using many dozens of apples is nice, but it does make the recipe watery from the outset.

    1. Thanks for the info! That's super helpful, I'll definitely keep all that in mind next time I make the recipe. Hope your batches turned out well this year!

  3. Yum! This looks delicious, especially with the puffs. What a nice treat for the fall. I also love fall and your pictures really compliment the season.

    1. Thank you! Hope the leaves are pretty where you are!

  4. Puffs are popovers. Yours came out better than mine. Mine always fail miserably. Apple butter is like jam-it's thick and spreadable. It's usually dark with spices and very tasty.