In response to Maria’s food challenge.

Firstly, I don’t think you could successfully use applesauce as a sugar substitute. You can use apple concentrate but it’s pretty much as bad as sugar. Too much concentrated fructose. One thing that you might like is that it can be used as an oil/butter substitute in baking. You’ll lose texture and flavour if you go over board with that but you can easily halve the fat content of recipes.

When I have an apple surplus, I just peel, slice and stew until soggy to make my apple sauce. I like a bit of texture to it. You could puree at the end if you wanted it to be smoother though. It freezes beautifully. I also freeze small containers of chunky stewed apple to mix through porridge. Yum.

Last apple surplus I had I made apple jelly. Delicious. I use an old Women’s Weekly recipe from The Book of Preserves.

Apple Jelly

1 kg apples, chopped
1 kg sugar
6 cups water

Combine apples and water in a large saucepan. Bring to boil and simmer for 1 hour.
Strain through a fine cloth. Allow liquid to drip through slowly. Discard pulp.
Measure liquid, pour into large saucepan. Add correct amount of sugar (According to pectin test) to each cup of liquid. Stir over heat, without boiling, until sugar is dissolved. Bring to boil, boil uncovered for about 15 minutes or until jelly sets when tested. Pour into hot sterilised jars. Seal when cold.

Pectin test – place 1 teaspoon of liquid in a glass> Add 3 teaspoons methylated spirits. Stir gently.
– if a solid clot forms, use 1 cup sugar to 1 cup liquid (high pectin)
– if smaller clots form use 3/4 cup sugar to 1 cup liquid (low pectin)
– if no clots form, use 1 cup sugar to 1 cup liquid and add 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice after sugar has dissolved (no pectin)

To test if jelly has jelled, drip some drops off the back of a spoon. They will thicken and join together before falling off the spoon if the jelly is ready.

Now for the apple cake! Well actually I’m not a big cake person but I do have 2 apple desserts that are really, really good. They are both from Step by Step Desserts and Confections

Upside Down Apple Tart

300g puff pastry
10 large apples
200g caster sugar
120g butter
1/4 teaspoon almond essence (can be omitted)
cream for serving (optional).

Peel and core apples. Cut in half lengthways.
In a heavy frypan with metal handle, over medium heat, heat sugar, butter and almond essence until butter melts, stirring occasionally. Sugar will not be completely dissolved. Remove from heat.
Arrange apple halves on their sides around the side and in the centre of the pan, fitting apples tightly together.
Return to medium heat and bring to boil. boil for 20 – 40 minutes, depending on juiciness of apples, until butter ad sugar becomes caramel coloured. remove from heat.
Preheat oven to 230 degrees.
Roll pastry out to 30cm round.
Carefully place pastry over apples in frying pan.
With a fork, press pastry to edge of frying pan.
Cut slits in pastry.
Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until pastry is golden. remove from oven and allow to cool on rack for 10 minutes. Place platter over top and press firmly together. Gently flip over so tart is on platter. Be careful of juices!

Deluxe Apple Flan

150g plain flour
75g butter, softened
30g caster sugar
6 large apples
120g apricot jam
1 teaspoon lemon juice

In a bowl, combine flour, butter, sugar and 2 tablespoons cold water. Mix until just blended. Press dough onto bottom and sides of a 23cm loose bottomed tart tin. refrigerate.
Peel and core 3 apples. Cut into chunks. Cook with half the jam and 4 tablespoons water until tender.
Blend apple mixture until smooth. Pour into medium non stick pan, cook, uncovered until very thick, stir frequently.
Peel remaining 3 apples. Quarter and remove cores. Cut into 3mm slices. Gently toss with lemon juice.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
Fill pastry shell with apple puree and cover with apple slices.
Bake for 45 minutes until apple slices are tender and browned. Transfer tin to wire rack.
In a small saucepan, melt remaining jam, press through sieve.
Brush jam glaze evenly over apple slices. Cool flan in tin on wire rack.
To serve, carefully remove side of tin.

I hope some of those ideas appeal!