Apples are easily my favorite thing about the fall season… growing up, fall was always the season for hot apple cider from a local cider mill, cider donuts, and just spending time with family. Not long ago, I shared one of my favorite recipes so you could make apple cider donuts at home! Today, though, I’d like to share this collection of apple themed posts from other bloggers around the web! From beauty to food to activities, these are all written by members of the Social Fabric community. I know you’re going to love them, and I hope you have a great season creating many amazing fall memories with your family.
There are a few things that just say fall to me… barbecue for tailgating, regardless of which sport you support, corn mazes, and of course, apple cider donuts. A hot apple cider donut, freshly fried, with a warm cup of apple cider, is just something that screams autumn to me. I couldn’t resist making them at home.
I love a good hearty breakfast. I also love a great dessert. And best of all, I love those dishes that can taste great no matter when you make them! This cinnamon apple bake is the perfect dessert or breakfast dish, and it’s so easy to throw together that your family will be begging for you to make it again and again.
I love a warm, delicious treat that is pretty heart healthy. I’ve shared my personal story about heart problems, and I do my best to try to stay as healthy as I can, even though I don’t always succeed. But, a dessert like this does help make things a little bit easier. Featuring oatmeal, proven to be heart healthy, and freshly sliced apples, which are a serving of fruit, this is an all-around healthy dish that takes only a few minutes to prepare. Plus, as a dessert for one, it’s easy to make just as much as you need and not have any extras to tempt you!
I have to say, I’m a Kansas City girl at heart. So if there’s one thing that gets my heart beating a little bit faster, it’s good quality barbecue. You see, barbecue is such a part of my city that our soccer team even has a chant that revolves around barbecue. It’s a staple here in KC. You know what else is a staple? Louisburg Apple Cider. Ask anyone who knows what they’re talking about, and they’ll say that, when it comes time for cooler weather, you can’t beat hot apple cider doughnuts and a cup of warm Louisburg apple cider. I had to combine the best of both worlds and create a delicious applewood-style slow cooked pulled pork. And what does that need? Apple Cider Barbecue Sauce.
Yesterday, for many, marked the official end of summer. That must make today the official start of fall, then, right? The day when it’s acceptable to start posting all things pumpkin spice lattes and apple cider and all things autumn? I certainly hope so, because I have the perfect cake to get your autumn kicked off the right way!
Apples. Caramel. Nuts. Streusel Topping. You literally cannot get more “fall” than this cake unless you served it inside of a pumpkin. Which I don’t recommend, because that’d be kind of weird. Anyway, this cake is like fall in… well, cake form. And it’s so good.
Start with some ingredients. Except not those tricky caramel bits. I bought them for another recipe and they somehow snuck into the picture! Sneaky, tricky caramel bits. Everything else in the photo, though, you need.
Grab your Pillsbury Caramel Apple Cake Mix and prepare it according to package directions, baking it in 2 greased 6-inch pans. Once it’s baked, remove it from the oven and let it cool before de-panning.
As you wait for it to cool, it’s time to prepare fillings.
The streusel topping starts with 1 cup of quick oats, 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt, and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.
Add in 2 cups of diced apples, and then 2 Tablespoons of melted butter. Microwave the mixture for two minutes, stirring after each minute. Stir in 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, then set it aside.
In a separate bowl, empty one can of your favorite apple pie filling, then run a knife through it to cut the apples all into small chunks. Stir in 1 cup of chopped walnuts.
Once your cake is cooled, de-pan it, then use your favorite cake leveling method to first trim off the top dome, and then cut each cake into 3 layers (so you’ll have 6 layers total). Try to keep the layers as even as possible. I prefer to use the Wilton Cake Leveler to get even, easy slices, but you can also use a serrated knife and turntable.
Place your first layer on your cake board on your cake plate or turntable.
Using any tip or a Ziploc with a cut corner, pipe Pillsbury Creamy Supreme Caramel Apple Frosting around the edge of the cake. I used this tip because I planned to use it for decorating later, but any will work. You’re just creating a barrier to keep the fillings from running amok.
On top of the first layer, spoon your pie filling and walnut mixture. Top with a second layer of cake.
On the second layer of cake, repeat the frosting swirl around the edge, but instead of the apple pie filling mixture, spoon on the streusel mixture. Top with the third layer of cake, repeating cake-pie filling-cake-streusel until all 6 layers have been placed.
The top layer of your cake should be the bottom of one of the cakes. This will create a very flat top for the cake decorating.
Before I decorate, I like to use the new Wilton Spray-N-Seal. It’s odorless, flavorless, and doesn’t change the texture of the cake. You spray it on the exterior of the cake, refrigerate the cake for 3 minutes, and then decorate as normal. It prevents crumbs from getting mixed into your frosting and creating a sloppy surface.
Apply a layer of the Caramel Apple Frosting, then decorate as you’d like. I decided to do some quick rosettes on the side for a cute, rustic, almost tree-trunk inspired appearance.
Pipe one layer of frosting around the top edge (or do beadwork or your preferred technique for finishing an edge), then top with a mound of leftover pie filling mixture. Finish with a generous sprinkle of streusel topping.
Mmm, check out that delicious close-up!
If you don’t want to do a layered cake, there are two other ways you can serve this cake recipe.
Bake cake mix in a sheet or 8×10 pan, whichever you prefer. Dice cooled cake. Layer cake, pie filling, cake, streusel, cake, and frosting, until you’ve filled the trifle pan with all of your toppings. Serve by the spoonful, making sure each serving contains a bit of every layer.
Bake cupcakes using the Caramel Apple cake mix. When baked, hollow out the cupcake slightly using a knife, fill it with the pie filling mixture, then replace a flat piece of cake cut from the removed portion of cake. Then, frost with the Caramel Apple frosting and top with a generous sprinkling of the streusel mixture.
Whether you serve it as a mile-high 6 layer cake, a trifle, or a cupcake, your friends and family are sure to be delighted by this incredible fall treat!
While at the Cider Mill in Louisburg, I couldn’t help but pick up their famous Lost Trail Rootbeer and Louisburg Apple Cider. But really, there are some amazing things you can do with those two drinks. Other than, you know, drinking them.
And that’s where doughnut cookies come in. They’re not doughnuts. But they’re also not totally cookies. They’re like… if doughnuts and cookies had a baby. A sweet, sweet, delicious baby.
The best part is the two different varieties, meaning there is a little something for everyone.
For the Apple Cider Doughnut Cookies….
For a richer taste, you may want to sub in the Maple flavor of Pillsbury Funfetti Lil Doughnuts, but I had the vanilla on hand. They’d both fit perfectly with apple, so it just depends on the flavor you’re looking for.
When you open the boxed mix, set aside the funfetti sprinkles and the glaze mix. You won’t need them for this recipe, so save them for another treat or discard them. The reserved glaze mix and sprinkles are PERFECT on pancakes or waffles!
Prepare the doughnut mix according to package directions, but instead of using water, substitute an equal amount of Louisburg Apple Cider! Basically, ditch the water, add the cider.
Dice up 1-2 small apples, then fold them into your doughnut dough.
Also prepare some cinnamon sugar. Most people have a specific preference for their cinnamon sugar ratio, so just prepare it however you like best. You’ll need enough to roll about 24 doughnuts.
Roll your doughnuts into balls. If you find that the dough is a little sticky, you can spray your hands with a slight mist of cooking spray, and they’ll be fine.
Then, roll the balls in the cinnamon sugar mixture.
Place them on a greased baking sheet an inch or two apart. Bake according to package directions, but check them about 2 minutes before the package says they’re done. As oven temps and times may vary, these could finish a minute or two early, or they could finish right on time.
These are best served warm, fresh out of the oven, with a large glass of hot Louisburg Apple Cider!
The Lost Trail Root Beer Chocolate Cherry Doughnut Cookies are also easy!
Start with your Lost Trail Root Beer and Pillsbury Funfetti Chocolate Lil Doughnut Mix! You’ll also need 1 can of your favorite cherry pie filling.
Set the sprinkles aside– you won’t need them for this recipe, but can use them for a different project or discard them.
Start by preparing the mix according to package directions. However, instead of the listed amount of water, use 4 Tablespoons Lost Trail Root Beer and 2 Tablespoons water.
Shape your dough into balls. Then, using a spoon or your thumb, press a slight dent into each doughnut cookie.
Fill each little dent with a cherry, then bake the doughnut cookies according to package directions. Check on them a few minutes before the end just to make sure you don’t overbake them.
While your doughnut cookies bake, prepare your glaze. For the listed milk content, substitute with half milk, half Lost Trail Root Beer. Once mixed, add a teaspoon full of the cherry pie filling (trying not to get any cherries in the glaze!)
When the doughnut cookies are done, allow them to cool for two minutes, then spoon glaze on each doughnut cookie.
Serve the doughnut cookies with ice cold Lost Trail Root Beer straight out of the bottle (or in a frosty mug!)
If you’re in the Kansas City area and can’t make it out to the mill, you should be able to find Louisburg Apple Cider and Lost Trail Root Beer at many local retailers. However, if you’re outside of the Kansas City Area, you can order online at www.louisburgcidermill.com or request a catalog. You can also substitute your favorite apple cider or root beer, but I prefer the taste of Louisburg Cider and Lost Trail Root Beer for my doughnut cookies!
Let me know what you think in the comments below! Which doughnut cookie do YOU think looks best?
Growing up in Kansas, the fall gets a bit chilly, with winter following after, and during those seasons, hot apple cider is a necessity. However, I just so happened to win hometown jackpot in that I grew up only about 15 minutes away from the absolute best cider mill, Louisburg Cider Mill. Family owned since 1977, it’s been a part of my entire life, and I was able to get a personal tour of the mill recently. I was shocked to see exactly how much had been added since I was last able to make a trip out there, making it a perfect field trip for Zach, and even Jeffrey.
Greeted by a simple sign proclaiming “Fresh Apple Cider” as I turned off of 68 Highway, I honestly felt flashbacks to childhood. I didn’t realize, though, that a lot had changed at this family-run business, and a lot of that was thanks to Clea, my tour guide for the day. Before I got to the Apple Cider Mill I knew and loved, I was directed to the other half of the Louisburg Cider Mill– the pumpkin patch and corn maze.
Just past the metal sign welcoming you to the patch is a family-friendly fall wonderland, made of pumpkins and bonfires and really fun homemade playsets, which were designed with the intention that families could borrow a lot of the playset ideas for home.
For $8 (or nothing, if you’re under the age of 3), you get access to all of this, and then some. Tires, a hay fort, the corn maze, pallet maze, wagon ride…. all of it.
I think Zach’s favorite part was the pallet maze, which was bright and exciting. Inside of the maze are some super secret letters. Find all of them, unscramble them on an entry form, and you could win a $25 gift card to the country store! Fun, AND educational. The giant corn maze (10 acres!) also has a word puzzle hidden inside.
Speaking of the corn maze… it’s a scarecrow this year. Isn’t he cute?
While there, we got greeted by some friendly little guys, but this one was a bit rude– he stuck his tongue out at us!
The funny thing about a pumpkin patch in Kansas is that, many times, you have to kind of search for a pumpkin at the beginning of the season. Even though there are 10 acres of patch, and there are gobs of pumpkins, large and small, to be picked, we haven’t had a frost yet, which means all of those green vines are intact. Once the frost hits, the vines die out, and the pumpkins gather at the base of the fallen vines, becoming a sea of orange.
I never realized how many things that the Cider Mill had to offer on the patch side. The wagon ride takes about 15 minutes and brings you all around the property, including past the witches’ house (which, I’ll let you in on a little secret, isn’t a witches house at all, but the home that the owners of the Cider Mill used to occupy). New this year is a huge jump pillow, which looks like an absolute blast (for an additional $2). The admission fee gives you access to everything so you can take your time exploring and playing, and with it being open until 10pm, there’s plenty of playtime to be had. You’re even able to bring a flashlight and go through the corn maze at night, until close– spooky! Many weekends, they light up the big bonfires and play live music on the stage, so it’s a perfect way to get the family out for a great night under the stars, next to a cozy fire. It even makes a really romantic date night. You can check out all of the live music dates on the Louisburg Cider Mill website.
Of course, pumpkins and mazes aren’t all the Cider Mill has to offer. They also, obviously, have cider. And, the pumpkins you see there are the pumpkins you can purchase if you don’t feel like taking a trip over to the patch to pick one yourself. Believe it or not, this barn was once just a neglected hay barn that was over 120 years old. In 1977, it was restored, and that fall, they bottled a jug of cider for the first time in that barn. It didn’t take much time after that for the cider to become hugely popular in the area, which led to a second barn being purchased from a neighbor, then assembled right near the old one to make the country store.
An operation that first started out of the barn in small batches has become a huge operation for the owners of the Cider Mill, with apples coming in by the truckload getting washed and turned into fresh cider. All of the apples come from orchards in Kansas and Missouri, a blend of Jonathan, Red Delicious, and Golden Delicious apples in 1,000lb bins.
The clean apples move up a conveyor belt into the barn for processing.
The conveyor belt leads them into the blademill, cutting the apples into pomace, which is a raw apple sauce.
From there, pomace is pushed through a cider press, squeezing the juice out of it for cider.
The cider is pushed through a rotating filter screen which finishes making sure all of the apple bits are out and it’s just cider. It’s then cooled in a cooling tank to 38 degrees. Once it gets cold enough, it goes to a bottling room to be filled into jugs.
Like these! Which can be found in the Country Store and also in grocery stores all across the metro, and even beyond that.
So what happens to the apple pomace and the rest of the apple-y goodness? Well, it’s turned into apple butter! And anything leftover from that goes to compost or cattle feed, meaning the entire apple is used, with little waste.
After exploring everything, I knew we couldn’t leave without stopping in the Country Store near the barn.
We each ate an apple cider doughnut, fresh made (they stopped making them for the morning literally minutes before we bought ours, so they were extra fresh!), and of course, a cup of fresh apple cider.
Needless to say, we’re all big fans of the cider doughnuts.
Nearly everything that isn’t made on-site at the Cider Mill is purchased locally, including the apples, and many of the preserves found in the Country Store. However, a good chunk of the products are made right there on the site, like the pumpkin and apple butters.
The cider isn’t the only claim to fame that Louisburg Cider Mill has, either. They’re also known for Lost Trail Root Beer, which I remember being the only root beer that our local BBQ joint, K&M, would serve. It was always so special to sip root beer out of a glass bottle; it’s something I still enjoy to this day. It’s microbrewed and made from an original formula that the great-great grandfather of one of the owners of the mill encountered while on the trail; an excerpt of his journal entry about the root beer is printed on the bottles still.
Honestly, you can’t beat a trip to the Louisburg if you’re looking for a fun thing to do with your family. It’s not that far from the Kansas City Metro, less than half an hour, and it’s worth every minute.
Looking for a reason to head out that way? The annual CiderFest is this weekend, September 30-October 1, and the following weekend, October 5-6. CiderFest is a free event and craft fair with plenty of exciting booths to explore. They also always have fresh, hot apple cider doughnuts and their famous cider for sale the entire weekend.
If you don’t live near the KC area and want to find out more about Louisburg Cider Mill or buy things like their Cider Doughnut mix so you can make your own Cider Doughnuts at home, you can order online at louisburgcidermill.com.
They do offer school tours and tours for homeschooling groups if you contact them in advance to schedule a trip out there. It’s an amazing educational opportunity for fall, and fits perfectly with an apple-themed unit study.
Want to see more photos of my trip to the Louisburg Cider Mill? Be sure to LIKE my Facebook page, over in the sidebar!
Stop, collaborate, and listen.
These Soft Apple Spice cookies are going to Spice Up Your Life (Can I do a Vanilla Ice reference and a Spice Girls reference in the same post? Because I’m doing it… so ha).
Grab your favorite spice cake mix. I love Betty Crocker Spice Cake mixes.
Also grab some apples. I have three shown, but then after cutting them, I realized two was enough.
Peel them, and then dice them up.
Once you’re done with dicing them, go ahead and toss them with 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg, and 1 tablespoon of caramel ice cream topping.
It’ll look like a less blurry version of this:
Now, get back to that cake mix. In a bowl, combine your cake mix, 1 egg, 1/2 cup oil, and 1 tablespoon of either apple juice or water.
Fold in your apples.
Now, here’s where it’s up to your discretion. These cookies are delicious enough and soft enough that little cookies are enough to satisfy a craving, so I drop mine by the teaspoon onto a greased cookie sheet. If you want a larger soft cookie, go with a tablespoon and spread them farther apart.
Bake those at 350 for 10 minutes, or until edges are done. Then, a secret trick that my mom has always done to get cookies rounder and flatter and more awesome, as soon as you pull the cookies out of the oven, smack the tops with your spatula and then remove them directly onto waxed paper.
Let those things cool completely, and then pile them on a plate. If dropped by teaspoonfuls, you’ll get around 50 cookies.
Now grab your cookies, and let’s get out of here.
Word to your Mother.
(Am I the only one who still listens to Vanilla Ice? Leave me a comment below and let me know your favorite Vanilla Ice song, or your favorite holiday cookie!)