I don’t think I have ever experienced true “seasons” when living in California.
Not that I’m complaining, I just mean that as an observation. When you look at it, the Valley has only two climates: hot and not that hot.
It’s triple digits from April through October, and then it cools down to a comfortable low 70’s high 60’s. There may be a few days where it dips into the low 60’s during the day and low 40’s at night, but (relatively speaking) the weather is pretty much sunny and warm.
Los Angeles, while not as hot as the Valley, doesn’t have seasons either. It’s pretty much sunny and a perfect 75-80 degrees all year long.
The temperature might fluctuate by a few degrees (and every once in a while you’ll get some rain), but for the most part it’s the same weather year round.
I’m being honest when I say I have never truly experienced living in seasons, until now. The weather is beginning to change here in Colorado and it feels more and more like fall.
The mornings are cool and crisp and it warms up a little in the day—but by night, the temperature drops and I am beginning to wear the new fleece I had to buy.
This weekend, I celebrated fall by having a weekend at a pumpkin patch, which had a general store that sold apples!
On Sunday, I went on a long hike high up the mountains to get a glorious view the colors changing among the foliage.
I wanted to continue that fall inspiration into my cooking and baking this weekend. I was so inspired by the pumpkins and apples this week I have (not one) but two recipes for you to try.
First up: Apple Butter
This dish is similar to jam but a little creamier and lacks the gelatin. It’s best served warm, and can be used on toast, waffles, as a pancake spread, or you can use it as a dip.
This week I am pairing it with a Pumpkin Cinnamon Raisin Bread (recipe to follow), as I think the combination will be perfect.
Apple Butter Ingredients
8 apples of your choice (I used Fuji apples picked up from the orchard on Fall Day Saturday!)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 sprinkle nutmeg
¼ cup water
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
squeeze of lemon
1). Core the apples and give them a rough chop and place in a slow cooker
2). Add cinnamon, nutmeg, water and both sugars and gently stir together
3). Close the lid and let cook for 4.5 hours on low
4). Check periodically to make sure it is still moist and the apples aren’t drying out
5). Remove from crock pot after 4.5 hours and place in food processor or blender, squeeze in the lemon juice and puree until smooth.
6). If apple butter looks more like applesauce and isn’t the rich brown color, add it back into the crock pot and cook on high for another hour with the lid off. Otherwise place apple butter in a mason jar, and let cool before sealing.
I had excessive liquid for the apple butter, so I used a tiny bit of corn starch to thicken it up. I did this in the last 30 minutes of cooking to give it some time to absorb the liquid before pureeing it.
Now, the recipe for the Pumpkin Cinnamon Raisin Bread.
I was a little nervous making this since the only baking I’ve done at altitude has been cookies.
This is a yeast bread and the process is a little lengthy to make the dough, get it to rise, shape it, let it rise again and then bake it. AKA, many opportunities for the altitude to affect the outcome of the bread.
The following is the recipe and process I used to make the bread:
½ cup milks, heated to 115 degrees (or heated in the microwave for about a minute)
1 packet of active dry yeast
1/3 cup plus 1 tsp sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp allspice
pinch of ground cloves
1 tsp salt
3 ½ -4 cups all purpose flour
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ Tbsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp water
In a small bowl, put the yeast and 1 tsp sugar and pour the heated milk on top, stir to combine then let set to proof.
IN the bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment mix together remaining ½ cup sugar, egg, pumpkin, and spices. With mixer on low, pour in milk mixture. Switch to the dough hook; add salt and flour, mixing until dough forms and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
Place the dough in a large greased bowl. Cover bowl and allow to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size. (tip to help with the rising, place the bowl in a warm place i.e. on top of the stove while oven is on, next to a fire, or you can preheat the oven to a low temp, then turn it off and prop the door open with the bowl in the oven while it rises.)
Once the dough has risen, place it on a lightly floured surface and roll until it is roughly 10”x20”. Rub entire surface with butter, sprinkle brown sugar, cinnamon, and raisins. Starting with the shorter ends, roll into a tight log and pinch seams closed. Place seam side down in a lightly greased 10-inch loaf pan. Cover and allow to rise for an additional 90 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In small bowl combine 1 egg with 1 tbsp. water, brush over the top. Bake 35-40 minutes.
Let cool in pan 5-10 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool. Store in airtight container.
I was pleasantly surprised with how this recipe turned out having not done any altitude conversions.
I think I could have put a little less butter, so the middle didn’t get as moist; but other than that, the bread was great! Looking forward to pairing it with my apple butter for snacks this week.
While the colors in the Valley may not be changing like they do here, hopefully the weather begins to cool and you too can enjoy in some fall festivities.
Try and this bread and butter and let me know what you think!
Happy Fall Y’all!