In Good Season: Save Room for Apple Slump

“People who don’t like food,” A.J. Leibling wrote, “have made a triumph of the Delicious apple because it doesn’t taste like an apple, and of the Golden Delicious because it doesn’t taste like anything.”


From September through October we are in the enviable position of having fresh Maine apples readily available, hard and crisp, with juicy flesh and splendid flavor. We have apples for cider or desserts, apples for eating straight from the tree, apples to store away until they are ready to be used. There is no reason to choose a perfectly polished, bright and tasteless specimen that has traveled across the country — or even from another hemisphere.

Searching my files for some off-the-beaten-track recipes, I found that Louisa May Alcott’s home (“Apple House”) is now a museum and that the curators there say that the following dish was one of Louisa’s favorite desserts.


Louisa May Alcott’s Apple Slump

Serves 6

  • 6 tart apples (about 3 lbs.)
  • ½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. salt


For the topping:

  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsps. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, beaten well
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup melted and cooled unsalted butter

In a large bowl, toss together the peeled and cored apples cut into ¼-inch slices, the brown sugar, nutmeg and salt. Transfer the mixture to a buttered 1½-quart baking dish. Bake this in the middle of a preheated 350-degree F oven for 20 minutes until the apples are soft.

To make the topping, into a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. In another bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, melted butter. Stir this into the flour mixture until just combined.

Spread the topping evenly over the apples and bake the Slump in the middle of the oven for 25 minutes, or until the top is golden and cooked through. Serve while the dessert is still warm with whipped cream on top if you like.


Recipes don’t come on little index cards any more — sometimes they come from places like Land O’Lakes ( one of the more useful virtual kitchen sites — and yes, you can substitute oleo, but not the whipped kind.


Applesauce Spice Bars

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups applesauce
  • 1 tsp. each allspice and cinnamon
  • ¾ tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup raisins

For the Frosting:

  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • ¼ cup no-fat sour cream
  • 2 Tbsps. softened butter
  • 2 tsps. vanilla
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans

Spray a 13-by-9-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixer bowl combine sugar, 1/3 cup butter and egg. Beat this at medium speed until creamy. Reduce speed to low and add all remaining ingredients except the raisins. Beat, scraping bowl often, until well mixed. Stir in the raisins by hand. Spoon the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake 25-35 minutes, or until it tests clean in the center. Cool completely before frosting.

In a small mixer bowl, combine all frosting ingredients except the pecans. Beat at medium speed until smooth, scraping bowl often. Frost cooled bars and sprinkle with pecans. Cut into 4 dozen bars.


Another delicious dessert — both Maine products.


Sweet Cranberry Applesauce

  • 6 McIntosh apples, cored & sliced
  • 1¼ cups cranberries, cleaned
  • ½ cup apple cider
  • 2-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • ¼ tsp. cinnamon
  • Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg

In a large, heavy saucepan, combine apples, cranberries, cider and the cinnamon stick. Bring this to a boil and simmer, covered, for 15-18 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Discard the cinnamon stick and force the mixture through a food mill or a sieve into a bowl Stir in the brown sugar, the butter, along with the cinnamon and nutmeg. This will make about 2½ cups.


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