Slow Apples Playing

October 17, 2020

What Goes Before

Someone, probably Jess, once told you or sent you an article about baking thinly sliced apples all day. If memory serves it was attributed to The French, but can we trust internet articles draping their advice in the borrowed legitimacy of haute cuisine?

The idea is that you layer a little butter with the apples and then bake them for 6+ hours at like 200 F. You could google it, but, let’s be honest if you just start slicing apples you’ll have plenty of time later to look up the details. You know basically nothing about French cuisine, but your vague memory of that article is that this recipe is so simple it probably wasn’t really from the same people who gave us macarons, croissants, or the ideals of liberty, equality, fraternity, and the separation of Church and State.

To Prepare

T = 0; start

Slice apples and sip coffee while your wife eats the last of the chocolate cake.

You have four granny smith apples from the CSA that nobody ate this week, and last night you picked up two more grannies at the store with this project in mind.

Preheat oven and use that to melt some butter in a small metal dish. Find that silicon brush you have (why? Isn’t that like a barbecue tool? Over six years in this apartment and you have literally never barbecued anything, but hey cool is this the first? second time? you’ve used it? What would’ve been the first?) and use it to apply melted butter over layers of apples slices you make in the baking dish.

By the end you’ve used something like 2 tablespoons of butter and the apples heap over the top of the baking dish but that’s surely no concern. Place in oven and go to the grocery store or whatever. Go outside!

T = 2 hours

You get back from a long walk. “I thought this place would smell like baked apples,” says your wife. In fairness, there’s a very faint apple smell depending on where exactly you stand in the kitchen.

T = 3 hours

Vaughnda is in and out of the apartment doing laundry (thanks sweetie!! xoxo) and thinks it finally smells like apples. You taste a couple slices from the top and they’re nice but they basically taste like…. warm apples and butter. It’s cool, we’re playing the long game. And besides this gives you time to scrub the toilet. Equal partnership and all that.

T = 5 hours

You finally look up some recipes. Most of the top results for “slow french apples” call for 2 hours total bake time. amateurs.

You can’t find anything that seems like the recipe you remember, but you notice most of them say things like, “carefully cover the baking dish” and call for exotic ingredients such as sugar, cinnamon, orange zest, and lemon juice. Don’t they understand the austere minimalism of French cuisine?

Reassuringly, there were a couple recipes that called for bake times like “ten hours” or “overnight.”
Irretrievably, most of the recipes seemed to mention “peeling apples” as an activity a reasonable person would ever perform. Don’t they understand the austere laziness of French cuisine?

One of the oranges you zested the other day is still on the cutting board, slowly fossilizing. Since you don’t have any lemons, let’s dump in some sugar, cinnamon, and orange juice. Revel in the austere minimalism: just 5 ingredients!

As you stir you observe underneath the curling upper layer of apple slices the lower portion is already almost apple sauce and you’re destroying most of the structures that remained by mixing in the sugar, juice, and cinnamon. With unshakable faith in the austere flexibility of French cuisine you cover the baking dish with a plate and return it to the oven.

T = 9 hours

Truth time!! It’s dark brown and surprisingly still liquidy underneath the top layer.

Also it’s full of little fibrey stringy things that you’ll figure out are reason you should’ve peeled the apple skin. They’re apple skin.


Next time: I guess if I ever do this again I’ll peel the apples with the knowledge that what I’m aiming for is the austere creamy texture of French Cuisine.

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Hi mom!