Old West or New West, no matter what era you’re in, cinnamon sugary apples somehow always hit the spot.
Living in the mountains, many of the same principles I imagined home cooks in the Old West used still very much ring true today. We stretch our ingredients far, favor hearty recipes that keep us full for big days in the mountains, and always make enough to share.
I found this recipe for Baked Apple Pudding on a website called Chronicles of the Old West, which proved to be an entertaining source of recipes found in old newspaper clippings from the 1800s. Like any recipe I’d imagine came out of the 19th century, this one features limited preparation, a simple ingredient list, and creative utility of plenty of non-perishable pantry staples. In the modern world of kitchen appliances, it’s easy to over engineer our recipes. It was refreshing to go back to the basics, and remember how delicious simplicity can taste.
I took the liberty of making a few edits and assumptions (like adding salt and a dash of vanilla), but other than that followed this recipe exactly how I found it. It’s sweet but not overly indulgent, and I think it would make an excellent breakfast or dessert, or both if you’ve got leftovers. Since using less dishes felt relevant to recreating this Old West dish, my husband and I opted to enjoy it warm, scooping it directly out of the pan with a large spoon. My only regret is not adding a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.
I resisted tossing the apples in the food processor like I would certainly do in 2024. And instead of grating them, I slice up the apples with perhaps the most beautiful NWKW I’ve tried to date: a limited edition Elk Antler 9” Chef Knife. Like children and skis, I try not to choose favorites when it comes to NWKW knives (they all have their own individual strengths), but this one is hard not to favor. Made with real elk antlers from Jackson, Wyoming, it finds perfect harmony between the wild nature of the Tetons and the dedicated craftsmanship of these impressive steel blades. The 9” blade is one of the most versatile tools in my kitchen, capable of big tasks like carving up a bird, but never overbearing for the little ones like slicing up an apple real thin. Like the elk who roam the Tetons, each handle is different. It’s a truly one of a kind kitchen tool that will surely be passed on for generations.
Our cooking has no doubt become more imaginative over the years, but unsurprisingly, baking apples into desserts hasn’t ceased to go out of style. Hopefully it never does.
Baked Apple Pudding
Courtesy of Chronicles of the Old West
Bold references my own additions/comments