Small Town Christmas

Small Town Christmas

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Tradition Continues

Tradition can get you in hot water. It can also be as soothing as a hot "bath." It's that delicate balance that's the tricky part.

Sometimes people look at tradition as an impediment to change. We get comfortable in our old, comfy shoes, and we don't care if they make us look dumpy. We know a new pair would give our whole look an update, but they might squeeze our toes.

But tradition can also be a way to build the future, while honoring the past. Since 1923, the women of the Stafford United Methodist Church have organized some kind of fundraiser to support church missions. The first fundraisers were banquets, since the church basement was one of the larger places in town. Nobody seems to know when the annual bazaar started, but it's been more than 30 years (since I've been around that long)!

It's pretty amazing when you think about it: For nearly 90 years, United Methodist Women (and some men these days) have worked together to accomplish a common goal.

One of those long-time traditions is UMW Apple Butter. At the end of September, we again got together to make apple butter flavored with red hots.

When I first joined the workdays in the UMW kitchen many years ago, we started the process from scratch. We peeled apples and cooked them down to applesauce. Then we turned it into the brightly-colored spread.
But as lives have gotten busier and there are fewer helping hands, we now start with canned applesauce. I'm sure it was a hard transition to make for people who've been doing it the other way for decades.

But, in the long run, I don't think people can tell the difference. It's still our red-hot colored, cinnamon-flavored spread.

There are other changes to the bazaar. We don't have the "treasure" room or the used clothing room anymore. But we will still have some of those hallmarks that make the bazaar the bazaar - like apple butter, frozen apple pies and chicken & noodles.

If you come to the Stafford UMW bazaar on Election Day, November 6, from 9 AM to 2 PM, you'll still see tradition. It might even be wearing new shoes.

Note: This blog post is reprinted from last year (with a few minor updates). Besides two days of cattle duties, I've been making quick breads and cookies for the bazaar. Today, it's cinnamon rolls and crescent rolls! Thus, here's a re-run. Have a wonderful weekend! We will. Kinley is coming to the farm, along with her parents, of course.

***

I always have to pick up a few jars of apple butter so that I can make one of our favorite coffeecakes. Jill wants me to get some for her this year, so she can make it, too. Enjoy!
Apple Butter Coffee Cake
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup apple butter
1 cup dairy sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla
Topping (see below)

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and beat well. Mix dry ingredients together, and add alternately with sour cream. Add vanilla and apple butter. Put half the batter into a greased 13- by 9-inch pan. Sprinkle with topping. Place other half on batter on top and sprinkle with rest of the topping. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Topping
1/3 cup flour
2 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup chopped nuts
1/2 tsp. nutmeg

Combine all ingredients and sprinkle over batter.

If you want a "fancier" presentation, you may put this is a Bundt or tube pan. I usually put half the batter into the pan and sprinkle with half the topping. Then I use the rest of the batter and sprinkle on the remaining topping. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing onto a pretty serving platter.

I usually glaze the coffee cake with a thin frosting made of melted butter, powdered sugar, vanilla and a little milk. This time, I made a brown sugar icing by melting butter and brown sugar together until the sugar was dissolved. Then add powdered sugar, vanilla and milk to make a frosting glaze.

If you're making a Bundt or tube cake, drizzle the frosting in "swags," creating a decorative pattern. You will need to wait for it to cool a little before frosting, so the frosting stays in place and doesn't puddle on the plate.

When I use the extra large tube pan (the cake pictured above), I make 1 1/2 recipes to fill it. 

When I make this recipe, I use the UMW Apple Butter. The red hot cinnamon candies in the recipe give our version the distinctive pink color. But you may use any apple butter. It just might not have that lovely pink tinge.


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