Imagine my dismay when one day, about a year ago, I got a hankering for apple butter. I had never seen it at my local farmers’ market, so I went to the “local” Jewel grocery store (Jewel-Osco/Albertsons/Safeway, and maybe a different name where you are; I know it’s different from Kroger/Ralphs/Food4Less/Harris Teeter).
I couldn’t find it. The first young clerk said, “I haven’t heard of that, but you might check dairy.” When I told him it was not dairy, but more like applesauce, he led me over to the applesauce. “It’s not here, I already looked,” I said.
So apparently they didn’t carry it. I tried another clerk on another aisle, who said, “It must be jams/jellies.” We found it – two lone jars of apple butter on the bottom shelf. I picked up one and dusted off the lid.
“Hmm,” she said, “that doesn’t look right. Check the expiration date.”
“It’s supposed to be brown,” I said. “It’s not applesauce. It has cinnamon and spices in it.”
“Oh, it’s like cinnamon applesauce,” she said. “So why isn’t it pink?”
Suddenly I missed my small-town childhood grocery store, with owners Joe and Phyllis at the counter, along with worker “Milky,” a former milkman.
I asked people at work the next day about apple butter. Remember, this is Chicago.
“Is that like honey butter?” one person asked.
“Do you chop up apples and mix them with butter?” another asked.
I realized apple butter might now be relegated to the status of old-timey and country-people food. But I still like it. When you’re a kid and need to make your own after-school snack, it’s easy and delicious to put a glob of apple butter on a saltine cracker. I still eat those occasionally for comfort food. Maybe the sweet/salty mix was prescient, since salted caramel became the rage in this decade.
Now that I’m grown up, I needed a grown-up way to use apple butter. Granted, this recipe doesn’t actually require apple butter – since you could include the same ingredients a different way – but I’m pushing apple butter so it doesn’t become extinct and I have to start making my own.
Triple Apple Bread
2 large apples, peeled, cored, and grated
1 cup applesauce
1 cup apple butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup cooking oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour a 1 1/2-quart loaf pan.
In large bowl, mix together apples, applesauce, apple butter, brown sugar, oil, eggs, cinnamon nd nutmeg, and stir well.
Add flour, baking soda and salt and stir well.
Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake for 1 hour. Let loaf stand for 10 minutes after baking, then turn onto a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Slice and serve.
This bread freezes well. Wrap tightly to prevent freezer burn and when needed, thaw at room temperature for several hours.