ffwd: spice-poached apple(sauce)

It’s hard to believe that it’s already Friday, again. This week’s recipe choice for French Fridays with Dorie is a batch of Spice-Poached Apples or Pears. We went apple picking last weekend, so it was apples for me.

After the peach melba from a couple weeks ago, I was extremely enthusiastic about poached fruit. The syrup on this one was quite different. Both sugar and honey provide the sweet, star anise, cinnamon stick and vanilla bean add the spice, and orange and lemon zest and juice add a little bit of extra je ne sais quoi.

We picked about 10 pounds of McIntosh and 10 pounds of Cortlands. I can never remember which apples are best for what, but I opted to use Cortlands because I thought I remembered that they were good for baking. I played my favorite apple game, seeing if could remove the apple peel in one piece, I got close, but didn’t get it this time. I used my favorite tool for coring, a melon baller.

Apple halves are poached in the syrup.that has already simmered for a while to meld the flavors. Dorie said to test the apples often, cooking them just until they could be pierced with a knife. Well, after 10 minutes, they were still firm in the middle, but extra soft on the edges. I let them go for a few more minutes, at which time, the centers were still firm, but the rest of the apple had disintegrated into the syrup. Oops.

Solution? Applesauce, I guess. I ran the mixture through the food mill with the largest blade. This removed the spices and the citrus peel. Some of the peel got chopped as it slipped through the food mill and I didn’t like the texture. I ran it through again, using the medium blade. The texture was perfect.

So, I ended up with a tasty applesauce, a little sweet for me, but well-flavored and delicious. I’ll remember this combination when deliberately making applesauce next time. And, once I can figure out the proper sort of apples to use, I’ll try the poaching again because I’m still very enthused about the whole concept of poached fruit.

Check out more successful versions of spice-poached apples or pears here. We don’t post the recipes, but consider getting your own copy of the book, Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table.


Posted on 14 September 2012, in Autumn, French Fridays with Dorie. Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. I think the flavours are great for applesauce. I took mine out when they were still a tiny bit firm, just to make sure.

  2. Nothing is wrong with applesauce and it must have been delicious albeit very, very rich. I am a little rusty on which apple to use for various desserts and sauces. Granny Smith for a Tarte Tatin and Pink Lady for eating. C’est tout. That’s all I know. Seriously, Betsy, go back and make poached pears with this same recipe (Bosc or Bartlett), they are so delicious. Really. (FYI – I am flying to South America for two weeks. I have my computer but may be a little lame on administrative duties for a couple weeks.)

  3. Excellent plan B! I think that the combo would be really nice for applesauce. Good call. I did both pears and apples and liked the pears better. I never really got the apples soft through, so it was probably a texture thing.

    Glad you liked the outcome! Jealous about your apple picking. Sounds fun!!

  4. Betsy, cooking apples – baking apples – there are so many varieties available around here as well and the funniest part to me is how the staff at the fruit monger´s most of the time is totally clueless as to which apples one should use for what…be that as it may, applesauce with wonderful spices is hard to beat and there is so much fall fruit around, that you will certainly make this recipe again – we ate a lot of poached pears as kids and back then, I did not really appreciate them all that much, things change!

    Have a good weekend!

  5. All this talk about peach melba I guess I should have made that one? I took the honey down a notch on this one but just a bit. Sublime. Will do this one again for sure. Tomorrow.

  6. My apples kind of disintegrated too, but you´re right about using the flavors to make applesauce! The pears were the best deal here. I wish I could go apple picking, what a treat! Have a great weekend!

  7. Apple sauce! Yum!!!!!!
    Apples are tricky – sometimes, its like trying to figure out which wine to buy :-)

  8. Happy anniversary. Hope dinner is good. I use macs for applesauce and add small purple plums for red color. Also sugar for sweetness. Xxxxxx

    Sent from my Kindle Fire


  9. Yup a few Doristas had problems with mushy fruit – it’s good to know! I love the idea of your apple sauce and hey, when life hands you mushy apples…. ;)

  10. good recovery with the applesauce. and the tricky thing is that sometimes the same type of apple will disintegrate poached, but be perfectly fine baked in a pie. it’s hard to keep track that’s for sure.

  11. Not a darn thing bad about applesauce- as they say, “when life hands you lemons, make lemonade.”

  12. Nothing like homemade applesauce…I could go for that!! Great save!! I used pears…and they poached perfectly! I would definitely make this one again! have a great weekend, Betsy!

  13. I think it looks just lovely and give you kudos for moving on to what must have been the world’s yummiest applesauce :) The apple picking adventure sounds like great fun too – perfect for this time of year and Fall is my favorite. Apologies for not getting back to you about your fabulous offer to catch up for coffee or spirits when I am back in your lovely Boston. I got a huge kick out of the offer and my hubby thought it was cool too (even though he does not exactly understand the whole Dorista thing…..) Nana even called me up to ask if I read your comment since she thought it was so wonderful! But alas….the best laid plans. I am actually and unexpectedly back in Boston after getting a call on Fri night that my two week into the term Freshman had contracted mono. We’re here with him mow at a hotel and will likely withdraw him for the term on Monday. So I will take a raincheck and hope he is back in the spring. But at least I get another FFWD tastetester (and thank gosh it wasn’t his brother who is in Italy)…..,,,,,,

  14. I haven’t had a chance to make this yet, but I will keep in mind not to use Cortlands!

  15. I love applesauce – and a food mill, wonderful. Its on my Christmas list. Do you like the one you have? What brand? The poached apples were not my favorite, but as sauce I might have liked them better – go with pears next! :-)

  16. When life gives you overcooked apples, make applesauce! Kudos to you for turning a cooking oops into a success. I’m sure that it was delicious.

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