Baskets of apples, sweet potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower and greens at area farmers markets signal a change in the seasons. To celebrate fall and one of the cool season’s crops, the Morgan County-Decatur Farmers Market will hold a competition to find the best all-American dessert.

Armed with family recipes, homemade crusts and secret ingredients, local bakers will serve up apple pies during the market’s contest on Saturday.

According to market manager Elizabeth Thompson, or rather her son, 3-year-old Oliver, despite the abnormal drought and high temperatures that plagued north Alabama during September, the taste of the apples remains delicious. 

“Oliver loves them. He eats them like candy. They are one of his favorite things,” Thompson said.

Bakers interested in vying for the title of apple pie champion should bring their completed desserts to the market by 11:45 a.m. on Saturday. Judging will begin at noon. Registration costs $10.

Along with apples, the market’s offerings include sweet potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, turnips, pumpkins, okra and tomatoes, until first frost. The market will remain open until Nov. 27, the day before Thanksgiving.

For a taste of fall, try these recipes.

Apple Pie

For the cinnamon-pecan crust

3 cups all-purpose flour

1½ teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

¼ cup finely ground pecans

1 cup butter-flavor solid vegetable shortening

7-8 tablespoons ice water

For the streusel

1/3 cup sugar

¼ cup light brown sugar

½ cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

½ cup cold butter, cut into 1-inch pieces

½ cup chopped walnuts

For the filling:

2 large Rome Beauty apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 egg, slightly beaten

1 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the crust, whisk together flour, salt, cinnamon and pecans. Using a pastry blender, cut in shortening. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and toss mixture with a fork. Roll in a circle ¼-inch thick. Line a deep-dish pie pan with dough. For the streusel, combine sugar, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg in a food processor. With the processor running, add the cold butter, one piece at a time. Process until crumbly. Toss in walnuts. For the filling, toss apples with sugar, flour and cinnamon. In another bowl, combine egg and cream until smooth. Stir in vanilla. Place apples in the prepared shell. Pour cream mixture over the apple mixture. Bake at 350 degrees in the lower one-third of the oven for 20 minutes. Remove pie and cover the crust with foil. Sprinkle streusel over the pie. Return to oven and bake 45 minutes.

Alabama Farmers Federation

Baked Apple Crisp

1½ cups applesauce

8 cups thinly sliced unpeeled apples

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

4½ teaspoons lemon juice

4 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided

1 cup uncooked rolled oats

½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup evaporated skim milk

¼ cup nonfat dry milk powder

1 cup vanilla nonfat yogurt

Preheat oven to 350. Spray 2-quart casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. In large bowl, toss apple slices with granulated sugar, lemon juice and 2 teaspoons cinnamon. Spoon into prepared dish. Spread applesauce over apple mixture. In medium bowl, combine oats, brown sugar, flour, evaporated milk, milk powder and remaining cinnamon. Spread over applesauce. Bake 35-40 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbly. Cool slightly. Top with a dollop of yogurt.

New York Apple Association

Sweet Potato Casserole

For the casserole

6 large sweet potatoes

½ cup milk

1 stick butter

1¾ cups sugar

2 eggs, beaten

1 tablespoon vanilla

For the topping

¾ stick butter

1 cup crushed corn flakes

¾ cup brown sugar

1 cup pecans

Preheat oven to 375. Mash sweet potatoes with ½ cup milk, 1 stick butter, 1¾ cups sugar, eggs and vanilla. Bake 20 minutes. For the topping, melt ¾ stick butter and add corn flakes, brown sugar and pecans. Add to sweet potato mixture and bake 10 more minutes.

Alabama Sweet Potato Association

Pumpkin Nut Bread

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 cup cooked pumpkin

1 cup sugar

½ cup milk

2 eggs

¼ cup butter, softened

1 cup pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 350. In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, soda, salt and spices. Stir in pumpkin. In another bowl, combine sugar, milk, eggs and butter. Add to flour mixture, stirring only until moistened. Stir in pecans. Place batter in greased loaf pan. Bake for 65 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes then remove from pan and cool completely on a wire rack.

Alabama Farmers Federation or 256-340-2441. Twitter @DecaturLiving.
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