Cranberry Apple Butter - 7

Last week, the husband and I carpooled into Atlanta together because he had a two-day class just up the road from the construction site where I work as a field office manager. Having gotten a rather early start Friday, we decided to check out the Flying Biscuit Cafe located on Northside Drive on our way in. The original Flying Biscuit was a bit of an Atlanta institution, known for its vegetarian friendly menu. This was my first time at Flying Biscuit, so I really couldn’t tell if things had really gone downhill after franchising. One big thing I noticed was that there was bacon and steak on the menu, but their gravy is still made from chicken sausage. I don’t have a problem with meats, but I know people that would go just because they knew they wouldn’t have to dodge pork on the menu.

I had Eggs Benedict served with rosemary potatoes and a whole wheat biscuit, which was good; not $10 good, but…you know what I mean. He had a very tasty French Toast served with both a raspberry and honey creme anglaise. It could have been the atmosphere or that I was getting full from the eggs, but while sitting there, I absolutely LOVED my super tall whole wheat biscuit and the cranberry apple butter that came with it. After we got home that afternoon, I went online searching for recipes for both the biscuits and the butter. I found success at Public Broadcasting Atlanta’s website and was soon in the kitchen, imagining tall, fluffy biscuits.

Just looking at the recipe, I got an inkling that something just wasn’t right. Room temperature butter? Who uses room temp butter in biscuits? 350 deg Fahrenheit for the oven temperature? But if you have warm butter going into a relatively cool oven, won’t the biscuits lose their shape as the butter melts before the leavening agents can get to rising? Shaking my head, I followed the recipe anyway. Predictably, I got biscuit blobs.

Take II. This time, I used cold butter and still looked in askance at the cooking temperature. They held up only marginally better. I had just enough cream, half & half to give it a third try if I added a touch of buttermilk. I was all for buttermilk at this point. I knew that I was capable of making light, fluffy biscuits, so I used the ingredients and my instincts for the final round. The oven was turned up to 475 to bake the first 8 or 9 minutes and then reduced to 350 for another 10 minutes. This time the biscuits rose slightly and held their shape. They were tasty (well, they were all tasty, even the flops) but not a mile high like the biscuits at the cafe.

By this time, I suspected that those might in fact be angel biscuits. Angel biscuits are made like traditional baking powder biscuits, but with the addition of yeast and some proofing time before going into the oven. I’m practically convinced that the recipe is designed to make you fail, because I don’t see how you could possibly succeed with it. Even after all that, I pulled out the recipe for the Cranberry Apple Butter and began following along. Lucky for me, my brain kicked in partway through and I finished up using what information I knew to be true about apple butters (I am so not an expert). It came out thick, rich and delicious.

I’ll say this, I stopped by the Flying Biscuit on my way into work this morning and got some biscuits and apple butter to go. The biscuits were completely unremarkable and looking at it, definitely incorporated yeast. You can tell from the crust to the crumb…it was NOT a traditional Southern style biscuit. The apple butter I thought I was in love with? Really just a flavored applesauce…watery, heavily spiced and with none of the fresh, tart taste I had in my memory. It was also a rather unappetizing light brownish color from heavy cinnamon instead of tinged with red from the cranberries. For a pretty fabulous apple butter ala Super Mel, follow along with the pictures below. This is also my contribution to An Apple a Day.

Cranberry Apple Butter

In a large pot, combine 1 cup of orange juice, 2 tablespoons of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg, 1 teaspoon of ground cloves and 1 pound of dark brown sugar.

Cranberry Apple Butter - 1

Bring this to a simmer and add a bag of rinsed and drained cranberries. I had a bag leftover from Thanksgiving in the bottom of the freezer. Cook on about medium heat until the berries start to pop. For the sake of sanity, move everything to a slow cooker at this point, unless you like standing over the stove stirring for hours on end.

Cranberry Apple Butter - 2

Add as many peeled, cored and thinly sliced granny smith apples as you’d like. I used every single last apple in my crisper drawer. My mother-in-law brought me a crapload (half bushel) of apples on her way back home from last year’s Apple Festival in Ellijay, GA. These were delicious orchard fresh fruits, but I can’t eat that many out of hand and I really don’t eat apple pie or other things that would give me chunks of fruit in something. And yes, my apples were still crisp, juicy and delicious having been in my fridge since October.*

Cranberry Apple Butter - 3

Cook on low, stirring frequently. I did this on the stove top initially, but after the biscuits and the biscuits and then working the apple butter for close to two hours, I wanted to go to bed. I transferred the whole mess into my little 3 quart slow cooker set on low and went to bed.

Cranberry Apple Butter - 4

The next morning, I gave everything a good stir, turned off the heat and went at it with my immersion blender. You could also use a food processor, blender, potato masher, whatever. Should canning be your thing, can away. I can’t help you with specifics since I haven’t done any canning. I spooned my apple butter into four of the little plastic freezer canning containers that Ball makes and the rest filled half of a 1 quart plastic container.

You should probably spread this on at least one biscuit. I didn’t wait for it to cool off at all, because I’m a rebel like that. I adore the deep, reddish color, btw.

Cranberry Apple Butter - 6

If you have the correct sort of space, apples will stay fresh for a *very long time, as in through the winter long time. Remove the apples from their bag and inspect each one. One bad apple really will spoil the whole lot. I put down a few layers of newspaper in my crisper drawer and loaded nearly all of the smooth, unblemished or bruised apples into my fridge. If you’re not willing to commit that much space, put them in a pretty cool location with some airflow around each apple and they’ll still last the winter.