Apple Pie Spice
Make your own Apple Pie Spice Blend, to celebrate apple season, and enjoy a different flavor in cereal, coffee, and baked goods!
It seems that it is already Pumpkin Spice Season. I see ads for spiced coffee drinks, people are making pumpkin spice muffins and pancakes, you can scent your home with Pumpkin Spice Candles. Originally, of course, this was pumpkin pie spice, blended for those home cooks who baked pies for Thanksgiving, but otherwise had no need for that assortment of spices. Then people realized it was a great spice blend for other recipes with pumpkin (I use it in soup, myself) and finally it lost the pumpkin altogether, and just became a lovely warm spice blend to put in your coffee. All very well.
But, see, it may be pumpkin spice season, commercially, but around here it won’t be pumpkin season for nearly a month! There is a reason we have jack o’lanterns for Halloween and pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving – that’s pumpkin season in the Northeast. Now, as I said, you certainly can use the spice blend without the pumpkin – but… it doesn’t hit quite the right flavor note for the apples that are in season here.
Usually, I’ve just used cinnamon. And that’s quite good… Sprinkle a little cinnamon on my porridge, on a microwaved apple, into an apple crisp. But I enjoyed the Gingerbread Spice Blend I used last December so much! With the blend I could use assertive spices – like cloves – in small enough amounts to add interest without overwhelming the rest of the flavors, which gave the food a complexity that cinnamon alone does not have. So I will sometimes just use cinnamon – I do like it – but…
I pulled out a variety of cookbooks to see what exactly was commonly used in apple pie. Cinnamon and nutmeg, typically in a two to one ratio (which was much more consistent than the gingerbread spicing was!) Occasionally a pinch of cloves. I decided that even having the two spices already blended would be convenient, but adding that small amount of cloves would make it much more interesting – so here we are!
There’s not much to tell, really… I did use pre-ground spices. I may still grate a nutmeg for garnish, when I use this blend, because the really freshly grated is much more flavorful – but I rarely bother to grate enough for a whole recipe. Too hard on my fingers! And I do have ground cloves for baking, though I prefer whole ones for most purposes. If you only have whole cloves, they (and the cinnamon, for that matter) can be ground in a spice mill or a coffee mill, and then sifted. That whole nutmeg does have to be grated, though… you’d break the blade of a mill!
So, four tablespoons of ground cinnamon, and two of nutmeg. Then just half a teaspoon of ground cloves. It is a small amount, and you can skip them, but really, it brings the flavor up a notch… Mix well, and put in a small jar for use. That simple.
For years, because I have bought many herbs and spices in stores that sell either in bulk or (more commonly, now) in small plastic bags, I have then kept and washed any spice jar I used, for later reuse. The flip top was particularly handy on this one, for a mixture like this that I will more often sprinkle than spoon out. You can also use just a regular jar, as I did for the Gingerbread Spice Blend last year. Whatever is convenient.
Now use it!
The blend makes a wonderful gift. Though apples are at their best now, we eat them all winter – and if anything, they need more help as time goes on… A jar each of Apple Pie Spice Blend and Gingerbread Spice Blend (with or without your favorite pumpkin spice… perhaps with suggestions for use) would be a lovely little stocking stuffer or gift for coworkers. (I can’t believe I’m thinking of that already… but it is worth keeping in mind!) They use different proportions of several of the same spices (with some others added) so it can make a lot of sense to just buy them fresh now, and blend as you want them.
Now, go ahead and use it! In apple pie, certainly – in apple muffins ( that recipe should appear here soon – watch this space!) In your coffee, or creamer, if you like using spice blends that way.
Or in your cereal, in the morning. I used the Little Bear’s Porridge – and realized that the spice adds enough interest, I may mix up a batch without the teff, for variety. But oatmeal, cream of buckwheat, cream of wheat if you eat wheat… I make a double batch, for the two of us, and, while it cooks, wash and core an apple and chop it in small pieces. (You can peel it – I don’t bother.)
Then, just before removing the cereal from the heat, sprinkle in some spice blend (honestly I just do it by eye – well under a quarter teaspoon, I’d say. Try, and see how much you like!) and stir in the apple. Then cover, and let rest five minutes (I find that resting period improves any hot cereal. Rich teases me that it is Oatmeal Magic.) The steam and residual heat are just enough to heat and soften the fruit without making it too mushy.
And there you are. With very little effort, your morning cereal is special, and a treat, not just more porridge.
Apple Pie Spice
- 4 T ground cinnamon
- 2 T ground nutmeg
- 1/4 t ground cloves
- Mix all ingredients well.
- Store in a covered jar, and use as desired.