Warm Up Your Winter With Oregon Apple Desserts

New Year New Recipes

It's one of Oregon's many bountiful food delights—a crisp, juicy, crunchy apple plucked straight from the branch at a favorite u-pick farm in the midst of Oregon's fall apple harvest.

With winter here now, apple trees are typically in their rest period preparing for spring blooms, but we have science and a technology called Controlled Atmosphere Storage to thank for being able to eat Pacific Northwest apples months after their prime fall harvest season. We're supporting Oregon's apple growers all winter by heating up some Willamette Valley apples from fall's harvest and baking them into festive, warm desserts. How about a unique Apple Kugelhopf? Or enlist the kids for a simple warm applesauce that they can master and will love to eat!

Let's start with a fun fact. Apples are part of the rose family. Same goes for peaches, pears, cherries and strawberries. If you look closely at their flowers, you can observe some similarities. According to the Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation, the United States is the second largest apple producer in the world with 1,500 Oregon farms growing about 150 million pounds of apples (2019 data). Twenty one, and counting, varieties of apples are grown in Oregon.

To heat up the kitchen this winter we've recruited local chefs and cooks to challenge you with something new to try. For those more experienced with wielding a spatula, tackle the apple kugelhopf. For a family friendly project, try this delightful applesauce recipe (with a twist) from and for our youths out there who are learning early that eating local tastes better, supports local farms and is important for the environment.

Chef Favorites:

Apple Recipes

Apple Kugelhopf

Local chef Greg Higgins of Higgins Restaurant & Bar in Portland discovered this delight when training in the Alsace region of France years ago. Chef Greg suggests it’s wonderful for breakfast or as a dessert toasted and topped with some ice cream or crème fraiche. 

photo: Epicurious

Yield: 1 Kugelhopf, 12 slices        

Prep Time: 30 mins + proofing   

Bake Time: 1hr

Ingredients: Poolish (similar to a starter):

50 g milk (3 and 1/2 tablespoons), about body temp 

8 g yeast (instant) (1/2 tablespoon)             

50 g AP flour (6 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon) 

photo: Sera Cervera on Unsplash


80g sugar (6 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon)

450 g bread flour (3 and 1/4 cups)         

125 g eggs (2 large eggs)

125 g milk (1/2 cup), about body temp

10 g salt (1.5 teaspoons)

150 g butter (1 stick plus 2.5 tablespoons), very soft

70 g golden raisins (1/3 cup)

2 TB calvados (apple brandy)

2 apples


1.    Prep the apples: core and peel apples, chop into ~ ¼” pieces. Mix with a TB of lemon juice and a TB of sugar; let sit several hours or overnight. Drain off any liquid. Cook the apples for about 20 mins at 325°F until the outsides feel dry. Set aside to cool.

2.    Toss the golden raisins with the calvados and set aside.

3.    Make the poolish: in the bottom of the mixing bowl, combine the warmed milk with the yeast. Sprinkle the 50 g flour over the top and let sit for 10-15 minutes to activate the yeast—cracks should appear in the flour.

4.    Add the sugar, bread flour, eggs, milk and salt to the poolish—with dough hook, mix on low speed for 1 minute to bring the dough together.

5.    Scrape well, then increase speed to medium and mix for 5 minutes. Scrape, mix 5 more minutes, scrape, 5 more minutes—a total of 15 minutes of mixing, with scraping in between.

6.    Still on medium speed, add half the butter; mix 3-5 minutes until the butter is fully mixed in. Scrape, and add remaining butter; mix 3-5 minutes to fully combine.

7.    Drain off the raisins, and mix in the raisins and apples on low speed, just until combined.

8.    Proof in a covered bowl about 1 ½ hours until doubled in size.

9.    Butter and lightly flour a Kugelhopf mold (or substitute a regular bundt pan. Punch down the dough and shape into a round. Press a thumb through the center to make a hole, press into mold with seam-side up. Cover and let rise until it is over the rim of the mold, about 1 ½ hrs.

10. Bake at 325°F for about 1 hour, until internal temp is 200°F. Cover the Kugelhopf with foil if it is getting too dark. Let cool 1 hour in molds before removing. Cut into 12 slices and store at room temp.

Now over to Graeme, home-cook young teen, for a tried and true recipe that kids and the whole family can have fun preparing together...

Hello Oregonians and visitors, Graeme here. I'm 14 years old. Whether you're a food professional or a newcomer this recipe is both simple and complex at the same time. Simple to make and complex in its blend of flavors with a twist—vanilla! I’ve been making Vanilla Twist Applesauce about as long as I can remember, and it’s always been one of my favorites as a dessert, appetizer, holiday treat or literally anytime.

This recipe is a good way to enjoy Oregon fruit during the winter and brighten up the winter mood. There is nothing better than sitting down in winter enjoying some of my fresh hot vanilla applesauce. If applesauce is not your current favorite, trust me it will be after you’ve tried this recipe (unless of course you don’t like apples or vanilla, but I don't know anyone who doesn't). If you have a favorite winter snack now, this will probably overtake it as your new favorite.

Vanilla Twist Applesauce

photo: Graeme Warner-McGee


8-10 apples
3 TBSP butter
one vanilla bean
zest of one organic lemon
ground cinnamon

Serves: 6-8
Prep time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes
Equipment: medium stock pot or pasta pot with lid, blender or food processor (blender works best), peeler, microplane/zester


  1. Wash, peel and core all your Oregon grown apples. I like to use several different varieties, mostly sweet and a couple tart. Cut them into approximately 1/4" slices (see photo).

  2. Melt the butter in the pasta pot or stock pot over medium heat. As soon as the butter is melted add the apple slices.

  3. Score the vanilla bean and scrape out the beans (also called caviar) from the bean's skin and put them in the pot with the apples (click here for a detailed description on how to do this). Stir well to distribute the beans throughout the apple slices.

  4. Drop the whole vanilla bean skin into the pot (you'll remove it later).

  5. Grate zest of one whole organic lemon (small to medium sized)  into pot with the apples.

  6. Cover with lid and cook on medium heat until softened, about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally to keep apples from sticking to the bottom.

  7. When apples are very soft, turn heat to low, cover, and simmer for approximately 20 more minutes, stirring occasionally, until the apples are mushy and break apart when stirred (see photo).

  8. Remove from heat and remove the whole vanilla bean skin. Transfer the soft, mushy, cooked apples from your pot  into a blender or food processor (blender works best—see photo). Make sure you have removed the whole vanilla bean, you don't want to blend it!

  9. Sprinkle in ground cinnamon to taste.

  10. Blend until it is your preferred consistency. I like mine super smooth with no lumps, but some people may like their applesauce lumpy.

  11. Serve warm or refrigerate for later. It can last in fridge for at least a week, I'm not sure how long beyond that because I've always finished it long before then. I bet you can’t stop at just one bowl, I can't!

Click each image to see full photo.

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About the Author

Graeme Warner-McGee

I'm Graeme, a native Oregonian, 14 years old. I love animals, sports and good, local, healthy food. I’ve been honing my cooking skills the last couple years by practicing and experimenting often, and watching videos of my culinary idols. My current favorite is Chef Nick DiGiovanni. My favorite foods that I secure at my local farmers market almost every week are smoked salmon, seasonal berries, soft pretzels and local honey. These are some of my favorite foods in the world, and I’m lucky to have easy access to them at local farmers markets and farms.

Lori, Graeme's mom, has been organizing in support of local and regional food systems since 2012, with the shared conviction that connecting consumers directly with local food producers is transformative for Portland and Oregon. The disruptive impacts of the pandemic on the country’s agricultural systems have been broad and varied, but the sudden drastic decline in food demand by restaurants and hotel customers isolated some farmers from some of their biggest buyers, while some consumers were dealing with localized food shortages. It is out of this increased need to connect more consumers to more local farms and the foods they create that the idea for OregonTaste.com was born.