Skip to main content

It's apple time

By Sheridan Lane, director, culinary programs and operations, Lincoln Land Community College

Apple season is in full swing, and there is nothing better than yummy treats made with the apples you just handpicked from your backyard tree or a local orchard. According to the University of Illinois Extension and the U.S. Apple Association, here are some fun apple facts that will jog your memory on the fruit-related products (juice, dried, frozen, canned or fresh) most consumed in the U.S.

Apples are not native to North America and originated in the area between the Black and Caspian Seas and said to be a favorite fruit of the ancient Greeks and Romans. They were not cultivated in the U.S. until the 16th century when settlers brought them over and began growing them in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Hello, Johnny Appleseed.

It takes approximately two pounds of apples to make one, 9-inch pie, and approximately 36 apples to make one gallon of cider. Red Delicious is the most common variety grown in the U.S., and the U.S. Apple Association predicts that apple harvest this year will top 11 billion pounds. If eaten without the yummy ingredients that make baked goods made with apples too tempting to pass up, they have only about 80 calories, are full of antioxidants and have five full grams of fiber as long as you eat the skin with it. That old saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” really may be true, but I wish we could figure out how all of the delicious things we make with apples could be just as healthy!

Apple Braid (makes two)


  • 2 sheets puff pastry (usually two sheets are in a store-bought package), thawed but very cold
  • 2 pounds apples, cores and seed removed, then sliced thin or chopped
  • ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom or nutmeg
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Egg wash (one egg plus one tablespoon of water)


  • 1 cup sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon butter melted
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of sea or kosher salt


In a skillet on medium-low heat, melt butter, add brown sugar and spices, and sauté apples until soft. Stir in lemon zest and cool filling so mixture does not run all over the puff pastry.

While apples are cooling, preheat oven to 400 degrees and remove puff pastry sheets from refrigerator. Open pastries to a flat sheet (usually packaged in trifold) onto parchment paper sprayed with non-stick spray.

Make egg wash by beating a whole egg with 1 tablespoon water and set aside.

Using the trifold as a guide and keeping the center section intact, cut 12 or so slits on either side of the center section of each of the pastry sheets. When apple filling is cooled, spoon filling into center section of each pastry. Alternating sides, lay strips over the top of the filled center section and crimp edges on both ends.

Brush the completed braid with egg wash and bake for 25-30 minutes until pastry is flaky and dark golden brown.

Make icing by whisking together the powdered sugar, cream, melted butter, vanilla and salt. When pastry has cooled slightly, drizzle icing over the top of the pastries and serve.

If making ahead of time, store in closed container after fully cooled. Warm slightly in low temperature oven and drizzle icing over the top.

Want to know more?

Lincoln Land Community College offers associate degree programs in Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management and academic credit certificates in Culinary Arts and Baking/Pastry. For more information call 217-786-4613 or visit