Friday, 14 October 2011

Apple Day 2011

There are events all over the country this month for Apple Day. The festival is a modern marketing creation but it has been well-attended as there are few things more beautiful than orchards. The loveliest tree of all is the golden pear, the quince, which reigns like a queen over the other trees, decked in magnificence.

Magic quince tree, Corpus Christi, Oxford

A little quince is good for flavouring but they take a lot of processing. It is much easier to eat apples and you can make many more things with them. Plus, you get cider from apples and that's what I'm hoping to be testing on Saturday. If I'm lucky with the weather I'll be wandering around in an absurd haze of bonhomie with a pie in one hand and a beaker of hot spiced cider punch in the other, laughing at the wolf winter which is loping towards us. If I'm not lucky with the weather I shall do just the same but pull the hood of my mac over the cider punch so the rain doesn't get in it.

Toffee Apple Cake.

Heat the oven to medium-hot, about gas mark 5
Have 2 x 1lb loaf tins or your choice of bakeware handy. I use the paper liners but I understand that silicon bakeware is very popular these days.

Fruit compote:
4 smallish apples, cored and sliced and cubed
A lemon, squeezed, to stop them oxidising
About 2 good tablespoons of honey
Cinnamon - some, how much you like, if you like like it. I'm having at least two good teaspoonsful.
Cook briefly together to soften them, leave to cool. The cubes of apple should now be covered in a syrup like toffee so don't burn them or they'll taste bitter. The need to cool down or they'll coagulate the cake mixture when they go in.

Cake batter of:
8oz self-raising flour
4oz unsalted butter or margarine
2 eggs
2 oz sugar, brown if you have it but any is fine.
A little milk if the batter is too stiff, but it probably won't be when you add the fruit.

Mix up the batter using any protocol you like, including the one where you separate the eggs, whip up the whites, then fold them in to the rest of the mixture later. This is a lot of mucking about but it does give puffier results. However, I'm doing sugar and butter, then eggs, then flour. The batter is stiff, more like a scone, but it will soften as you put the apple in. It is easier to do this by pouring the cool syrup in first.

Stir the apples in to the cake mixture which will be like rich cream - not hard but not runny - and cook in a medium-hot oven, around gas mark 5. If you are using two loaf tins this will take about 50 mins, longer if you use a deep tin, less if you are wise and spread the mixture in a wider tin. At any rate, cook until a knife-blade slides out cleanly and not covered in raw cake mix. The oven needs to be hot to get the reaction going and puff up the cake, but it can burn the top. Turn the oven down and leave it longer if it is a problem getting the centres to set. This happens with cakes using fresh fruit.

Cool on wire rack. The cake should not be over-sweet. Fresh fruit cakes count as health food if the council sends a spy round to 'test' your buns. You need to eat them quicker than other cakes because they only have a limited shelf life of a few days. This should not be a problem.

Aha! Found some spare cream. Yes, this all works.

If you enjoyed the apples, save the pips from the cores and shove them in the ground somewhere. Who knows, but one day there may be tree. All the instructions are in there.

A note on honey: this cake used rapeflower honey. Be aware that rapeflower honey is bland which makes it adaptable for cooking but that - in my opinion - it lacks the depth of flavour you might like in a table honey.


banned said...

I had a damson tree in the garden as a child, does that count?

JuliaM said...

And here I saw the post title and thought it'd be about iOS5!

TheFatBigot said...

I have never found a noticeable difference between honeys in cooking. On toast, yes; in a cake, no.

One of my foibles is to add a teaspoon of honey at an early stage of creating a boef bourgignon. It seems to cut out any risk of the wine giving an acid tinge to the dish.

Captain Haddock said...

If its cider you like WOAR ..

May I suggest this one ? ..

Very quaffable & highly recommended .. ;)

Available, singly from Morrison's, Tesco or Sainsbury's at between £1.25 & £1.65 per bottle ..

Woman on a Raft said...

Damsons are hard-working trees which get on with producing mounds of fruit without the least fuss. You don't find a damson turning up its roots in a great huff if not coddled. So yes, a damson tree counts, Banned.

What with mangoes, blackberries and apples, there's a decidely fruity theme in computing. It's always the faintly glamorous fruits - never leeks or potatoes.

@TFB - thanks so much for the info about chutney earlier, and now this excellent suggestion. I'll try it with venison as I like venison in wine. It cooks slightly quicker than beef.

Thanks, Captain Haddock - I'm off to the shops. Tip: be careful of the ciders, always read the label. I bought one which I thought looked alright but it turned out to be marketing hype. If I had checked properly I'd have found it was topped-up with glucose syrup, probably from maize. It was perfectly vile, not drinkable, not even useable to marinade. It had an undertaste and feel of something industrially slippery, like Mr Sheen for cleaning plastics.

Captain Haddock said...

@ WOAR ..

An enlightening tale .. Ugh !

However, no such concerns with Weston's .. I've been drinking it all summer & not found a bad 'un yet .. ;)

Elby The Berserk said...

Apple and Quince pie is very fine indeed - you just need to poach the Quinces for a while before making the pie.

Haddock. Westons do VERY fine cider indeed, as do Thatchers. Have you tried Westons Old Rosie? Exquisite. Westons web site do some very decent deals now and again as well, just sign up for their newsletter

WAOR. Westons (and Thatchers) are the real deal, I can assure you. Extensive QA testing has taken place to confirm this. Also Cider can be drunk by Coeliac (sp?) sufferers, unlike beer

Zyder me up Landlord. Hic.

Electro-Kevin said...

That is a nice tree.

Captain Haddock said...

Hi Elby ..

Yes, I have tried Weston's "Old Rosie" .. very nice .. but I do prefer the "Vintage" ..

Obviously, I've looked at the Weston's online shop, but it works out cheaper to simply order a case of 8 bottles from my local branch of Morrison's .. I don't have to pay for carriage & I'm not tied to being at home to take delivery either ..

I must confess to not having tried Thatcher's cider .. must give that a spin sometime .. ;)

Electro-Kevin said...

Being in Devon I think I'd better get me a strawberry tree to make jam.

I haven't seen one in the garden centres yet. Stupid ! They'd make a killing 'round 'ere.

Electro-Kevin said...

I also need a clot to make some cream.