I bought myself an xmas present, the Roma Sauce Maker. I'm sure you have seen these around - usually they are associated with tomatoes. Gardener's Supply was offering 20% off, so I purchased a variety of things, including this baby.
Saturday I decided I should assemble the thing, to make sure all the pieces were there, and initially I was not impressed. In fact, one part arrived cracked - the "waste funnel" which is made from a plastic one step better than the plastic used for disposable glasses. Anyway, all the parts went together, and I decided that I should test it out as well. Tomato season is long past, but I just happened to have half a peck of Gold Rush apples in the refrigerator.
An aside on these apples: they are not pretty, which made them a good candidate for applesauce, but while cutting them up, I tasted a slice. Oh. My. God. Crisp and tart but not overly so. I held one back just to eat, ugly skin and all.
According to the directions, tomatoes can go through the sauce maker raw, but apples and most other fruits need to be steamed first. So I quartered the apples and put them on the stove with a little water and let the magic of cooking with gas do its thing.
After the apples cooled a bit, I filled the hopper. That red thing is called a "stomper" but wielding it takes little muscle power.
After hand cranking for a bit, applesauce started to flow. Initially, the peels still had a fair amount of apple mixed in, so I sent the "waste" through again, and extracted even more applesauce.
And it is wonderful applesauce. In the past, I have made applesauce with a Foley food mill, which crushed the seeds and let some of the nasty stuff through. But this applesauce is clean and smooth. I like it tart, but also tried it with a bit of agave nectar and cinnamon. Lovely, just lovely.
It went great with the bread I baked at the same time the apples were steaming. Working from The Bread Book...
... I used their method of creating a sponge first. This step comes after proofing the yeast and before mixing in all the flour.
Otherwise, the directions are standard for bread, with the exception of recommending longer rise times at cooler temperatures and a free form loaf.
The result was a very crusty loaf, just the way I like it. The basic loaf recipe used half whole wheat flour and half unbleached flour, so it is lighter than whole wheat but heartier than white.
I couldn't wait for the loaf to cool before sampling. Mmmmmm!
I highly recommend this book. There is a wide variety of recipes from around the world, plus the authors explain not only what but why. For example, besides instructing you to knead the bread for ten minutes, they also explain that this is to develop the gluten which is necessary to support the yeast, and that mechanical kneading can easily lead to over-kneading, which breaks down the gluten strands. I'm looking forward to working my way through this book during the Year of Bread.