Apple butter was the fall essential long before pumpkin spice lattes.
Not much beats homemade apple butter bubbling on the stovetop. Except maybe enjoying it on toast, scones and biscuits.
Ben Libay, chef and part owner of Biscuit & Bean in Lake Stevens, is a fan of all-day breakfast. He likes to treat himself to apple butter slathered on a cheddar onion biscuit. The shop offers a variety of biscuit-inspired breakfasts to go with your cup of Joe.
Apple butter isn’t the only spread on the menu. You’ll also find housemade raspberry jam, tomato jam, bacon jam, maple butter, honey butter, mocha butter, garlic butter, herbed goat cheese and Mama’s Lil’ Pepper aioli. That’s a lot of choices.
“You think that’s a large list? We had to get rid of a lot of them,” said Libay, who lives in Marysville. “We had so many, they weren’t selling.”
If you can’t decide, stick with apple butter.
Libay owns Biscuit & Bean with Ryan Jayne. Before they launched a coffee-plus-breakfast business together, Libay and Jayne played in a punk-rock band called Hades Machine. Libay was the drummer, and Jayne played bass.
Why coffee and biscuits? “They go hand in hand — they’re built for each other,” said Jayne, a Lake Stevens resident. “I mean there’s tea and crumpets, so why not coffee and biscuits?”
After opening their flagship store in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood in 2014, Biscuit & Bean expanded to Lake Stevens in 2019. Libay, 39, and Jayne, 41, affectionately refer to them as brother stores.
Biscuit & Bean sold Morsel biscuits up until 2017. Now Libay and Jayne make their own recipes, and they encourage their employees to do the same. “I give them suggestions, and then I let them run with it,” Libay said. “We allow them to flex that muscle.”
They also own and operate Northwest Biscuit Co., a commercial kitchen in Seattle’s Greenwood district. Libay said he bakes up to 900 biscuits per week for the Lake Stevens shop alone. With his estimate, that means he bakes 3,600 biscuits per month or 46,800 per year for the one shop. (He makes the apple butter in 14-quart batches, so we’ve downsized the recipe for you.)
The menus at the Ballard and Lake Stevens shops differ. (There’s also a limited grab-and-go menu, as of this writing, because of COVID-19.) Ballard’s little brother serves housemade biscuits, spreads, gravy and breakfast sandwiches. “Bean” stands for coffee. In addition to espresso, you can order tea, hot chocolate or the house soda. All Biscuit & Bean coffee is made with Fulcrum Coffee.
No matter the season, you can order buttermilk and cheddar onion biscuits at Biscuit & Bean. This fall, you also can get a cinnamon roll, pumpkin pie or peach cobbler biscuit.
The cinnamon roll biscuit is drizzled with housemade icing, the peach cobbler biscuit is served with sweet peaches and a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and the pumpkin pie biscuit is dolloped with fresh whipped cream.
Jayne said he’d top the cinnamon roll and pumpkin pie biscuits with apple butter, too.
His favorite combo? It’s a toasted buttermilk biscuit slathered in melted maple butter. Jayne said it tastes just like a pancake.
But back to Libay’s favorite combo: Biscuit & Bean’s cheddar and onion biscuit with apple butter.
“It’s the best thing ever,” he said. “When I mention it, they’re weirded out by it, but then they try it and they love it. It’s hard to go back to anything else after that.
“I’m a big fan of sweet and savory combinations.”
Other ways to enjoy apple butter this fall: Try pairing apple butter with a cheese plate, spreading it between layers of spice cake, filling seasonally appropriate thumbprint cookies, or even as a condiment for roasted chicken or grilled pork chops.
Sara Bruestle: 425-339-3046; email@example.com; @sarabruestle.
Biscuit & Bean’s apple butter
5 pounds Granny Smith apples
¼ cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons bourbon
1½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoons toasted cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla salt (can substitute kosher salt)
Peel and quarter the apples, removing cores and seeds. Slice the quarters thinly. The thinner the slices, the faster the apples will soften and break down. Set sliced apples aside.
Pour the lemon juice and bourbon into a wide and shallow pot, followed by the apple slices. Cook on medium-low for 30-45 minutes, or until the apples are really soft, stirring occasionally to keep the apples from sticking to the pan.
Once the apples are fully cooked, add the vanilla, sugar, cinnamon and salt, then cook on low for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until the apple butter has turned thick and dark brown.
Remove the pan from the heat. Blend the cooked apples with an immersion blender until smooth. If you don’t have a hand-held blender, you can use a food processor to blend. You’ll want to puree in batches so as not to overflow your food processor. Be careful, as the mixture will be hot and steamy.
Transfer the blended apple butter to a shallow pan to cool. The puree will thicken up more as it cools.
Keep refrigerated. The apple butter should last in the refrigerator for several weeks.
Makes about 1 quarts.
If you go
Biscuit & Bean, 1811 Main St., Lake Stevens, is open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. Call 425-405-3051 or go to biscuitandbean.biz for more information.
Washington North Coast Magazine
This article is featured in the fall/winter issue of Washington North Coast Magazine, a supplement of The Daily Herald. Explore Snohomish and Island counties with each quarterly magazine. Each issue is $3.99. Subscribe to receive all four editions for $14 per year. Call 425-339-3200 or go to www.washingtonnorthcoast.com for more information.