If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe. — Carl Sagan
I love apples a lot, I really do. Most are kind of one dimensional; yes, they are sweet and crisp, and seriously who needs more than that from an apple? But then you bite deep down into a mountain rose apple and quickly figure out that every other apple is just a pretender to the throne. It would be easy to proclaim that simply on the merits of its deep red hue, it is a gorgeous apple to look at and behold. Then the bright acid and complex flavors, reminiscent of a strawberry jolly rancher, wash over your mouth and you realize how perfect an apple can be.
The modern mountain rose apple originated from a single tree found on an 80 acre farm in Airlie, Oregon, just north of Corvallis. Lucky Newell bought the property in 1959, and one day he was riding his horse near a well and spotted an apple tree growing. He reached up, took a bite and was amazed by the red fleshed fruit. That discovery was during a time when diversity was not as celebrated as it is today and so the apples remained hidden and unknown.
The history goes back further though, the smallish, yellow skinned apples originally known as “Surprise”, were believed to originate in Siberia. In the early 1830’s, the apples found their way to Europe and by 1840, German immigrants planted them in the Ohio Valley. From there they traveled to Newburgh, New York and even appeared in an 1890 book entitled “The Fruit and Fruit Trees of America”.
By the 1920’s, they were grown in Northern California where the hot days and cool nights seemed more favorable to their growth. Horticulturist Albert Etter began experimenting and breeding various red fleshed apple trees, and by the 1940’s, several of Etter’s hybrids were made available through a nursery and yet they never gained in popularity. The single apple tree remained unnoticed until the 1980’s when Louis Kimzey rediscovered them walking through the Newells’ old orchard. It is reputed that the apple tree found was a remnant of Albert Etter’s hybrids.
This year’s mountain rose apple harvest is going to start on October 20th and it looks like a great year, the trees are full of apples and the color is deeper than previous years. I was lucky to be in the neighborhood of the orchard shooting some pictures last weekend and grabbed a few half eaten strays that fell to the ground. I got home and made a delicious old school dessert, apple beignet with salted caramel. I served it with a bottle of Sur La Mer brut cider from Drew Family Wines, a small winemaker in the Anderson Valley of Northern California. The tartness of both the apple and cider contrasted perfectly with the sweet caramel and left me wanting for more. Try these this weekend and discover the apple that Newell said were as red as his wife’s lips!
If you like the recipe, snap a picture and hashtag #pistouandpastis – We love to see your creations all over social media!
- 2 Mountain Rose Apples, peeled, cored and cut into ½ inch hick slices
- 1 cup Calvados
- 1 cup Sugar
- 1 recipe Beignet Batter
- Vegetable Oil to fry in
- Powdered Sugar
- 1 recipe Salted Caramel Sauce or Goat Milk Caramel
- 1 pint Caramel Ice Cream
- Marinate apple slices in Calvados and Sugar for a few hours, or overnight.
- Dip apple slices in beignet batter and fry at 350 degree till golden brown, about five minutes.
- Be sure to flip slices frequently so they cook evenly.
- Drain on paper towels.
- Dust with copious quantities of powdered sugar, drizzle with caramel sauce and top with a scoop of caramel ice cream.
- 1.5 cups all purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup Sur La Mer brut cider or any other sparkling cider.
- 2 egg whites
- Mix dry ingredients.
- Mix egg yolks, oil and cider.
- Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients.
- Whip egg whites and fold in.