This is great!! The apple butter has a rich, creamy taste, like really good apple pie filling, but without added sugar. You have to be around for this, it needs to be stirred a lot, but it’s well worth it. The caramelizing of the apples comes at a price–your roasting pan will be quite crusted. Right after taking the pan out of the oven and transferring the butter to a bowl, soak the pan in water. This will make cleaning up much, much, much easier.
You can stop after the initial half-hour roast and subsequent mash, if you like. You’ll have some great applesauce.
7 or 8 medium apples, about 3 pounds
2 cups unsweetened apple juice or apple cider
cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, etc., optional
1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Peel and core apples. Cut into quarters or eighths, placing in a large, rimmed roasting pan as you do so. Spread the apples out. Pour apple juice over the apples. Bake until tender and lightly browned, about 30 minutes. Using a potato masher, thoroughly mash the apples in the roasting pan.
2. Reduce oven temperature to 300°F. Bake the apple purée, stirring every 20 minutes or so, until very thick and deeply browned, about 2 hours. Scrape into a bowl and let cool. If you like you can add some ground spice to the apple butter for an extra flavor dimension.