The great apple bake off

My annual autumn obsession with apples is drawing to an end. Our apple tree is almost bare and the freezer is well stocked with apple sauce and pie fillings galore. A few extra pounds have been gained due to an inability to say no to second helpings of apple puddings.

For those who still have an abundance of apples, I thought I’d share some of my family’s favourite recipes this year.

Of course juicing is an option too if you still have apples to spare and can’t bear to see them rotting in the grass. It takes a while, especially if you have an ancient juicer like ours, so try to get hold of a proper press or bring your apples along to the Kilmersdon Apple Day on Saturday 15 October. There will be a press for all to use and lots more apple-related activities, stalls and competitions.

If you’re actually short of apples, why not take a walk along the beautiful Colliers Way cycle path, a disused railway between Shoscombe, Radstock and Frome. Sustrans planted apple trees every half mile or so along the 15 mile path as well as a few pocket orchards; 108 trees in all. The inspiration for the linear orchard came from all the apple trees which used to grow here before the cycle track was created, thought to have grown from the discarded apple cores of railway passengers. It is now a reminder of the thousands of ancient orchards felled to make way for roads and development, and the varieties in danger of disappearing.

Anyway back to the recipes…

Apple crumble muffins

These are a big hit in our house; the taste of a pudding in a cupcake. Taken from Linda Collister’s excellent book ‘Baking with Kids’.

Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients

Topping:
50g butter
50g sugar
50g plain flour
50g ground almonds

Cakes:
275g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
175g caster sugar
1 lemon
150g butter
2 eggs
100ml milk
2 eating apples

Preheat oven to 190°C (375°F) Gas 5.

To make the topping, cut the butter into small pieces and put in a mixing bowl with the other ingredients. Work them together until it looks like crumble mixture.

For the cake mixture, sieve the flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl and mix in the sugar. Stir in the zest from the lemon and make a well. Pour the melted butter, beaten eggs and milk into the well, and mix gently. Spoon the mixture into paper muffin cases in a 12-hole muffin tray. Core and roughly chop the apples and scatter on top of the muffin mixture, then sprinkle over the topping.

Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown. Enjoy with a cup of tea!

Spiced apple chutney

I make this warming chutney from Nigella Lawson every year. It’s gorgeous with cheese on toast.

Ingredients

500g apples
1 medium onion
2 bird’s eye red chillies
250g demerara sugar
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cloves
½ tsp sea salt
black pepper
1 tbsp chopped or grated fresh ginger
1 tsp turmeric
350ml cider vinegar

4 x 250ml jars

Peel and roughly chop the apples, and finely chop the onion. Seed the chillies and finely chop. Put all the ingredients in a pan and bring to the boil. Cook over a medium heat for 30-40 minutes until the mixture thickens. Spoon into the cleaned jars and place in your store cupboard.

Eve’s pudding

My Nana Barbara from Lancashire gave me this recipe. It’s an old family favourite.

Ingredients

1lb apples, peeled and cored
3oz demerara sugar
Grated rind of 1 lemon
1 tbsp water
3oz butter or margarine
3oz caster sugar
1 egg, beaten
4oz self raising flour

Oven temperature moderate, around 170°C (350°F) Gas 4.

Slice apples thinly into a greased ovenproof dish and sprinkle the Demerara sugar and grated lemon rind over them. Add 1 tbsp water. Cream the fat and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the egg a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold in the flour with a metal spoon and spread the mixture over the apples. Bake in the centre of the oven for 40-45 minutes until the apples are tender and the sponge mixture cooked.

Apple sauce

We’ve been eating lots of roast pork for Sunday lunches as an excuse for apple sauce. It couldn’t be easier to make.

Simply peel, core and chop your apples. Pop in a pan with a knob of butter, put the lid on leave for 10 to 15 minutes until the apples are tender. And serve. Our apples are sweet enough so we don’t add sugar, so you may need to. Sometimes I add lemon juice and a little cinnamon. My children love it served with yoghurt and honey as a dessert.

Dried apple rings

Our friend Mikey came up with this suggestion for a tasty apple snack, great for school pack lunch boxes.

Peel and core your apples and cut into rings. Sprinkle with cinnamon (or leave plain if you prefer). Spread out on a baking tray and put in a very very low oven for a few hours. If you have an Aga you could put in the bottom oven or do what we did and tie with string and hang in bundles above the Aga. They’re ready when they’ve gone wrinkly and have a lovely chewy consistency.

Lemon and apple tart

A light and zingy tart. Eat warm or cold. To make life easier, you could always use ready-made shortcrust pastry. Another recipe from Linda Collister’s ‘Baking with Kids’

Ingredients

225g plain flour
Salt
160g cold butter
Iced water
1 large or 2 medium apples (about 300g)
3 tbsp golden syrup
50g fresh bread without crusts
1 lemon

Shallow pie plate or tart tin, 26cm diameter

Preheat oven to 190°C (375°F) Gas 5.

To make the shortcrust pastry, put the flour and a pinch of salt into a food processor and add 160g of cold butter cut into small pieces. Process until you have fine crumbs. Add two tablespoons of iced water and process again until the dough comes together in a ball.

Roll out the pasty and press into the buttered pie plate. Keep back some scraps for decoration. Put into the fridge while you make the filling.

Peel, core and grate the apple into a mixing bowl and add the golden syrup. Turn the bread into fine crumbs in the food processor and add to the apple. Add the lemon zest and juice. Mix the ingredients well and gently spoon into pastry base. Don’t press down too firmly or it might lose its fluffy texture. Decorate the tart with pastry strips to form a lattice pattern. Bake for 30 minutes until golden. Delicious with yoghurt or ice cream.

Apple and blackberry charlotte

Here’s another old fashioned apple classic from my Nana Barbara. You can use any other stewed fruit in this recipe.

Ingredients

1lb apples peeled, quartered and cored
1lb blackberries
Rind and juice of ½ lemon
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
2oz melted butter
6 slices white bread
6-8oz sugar
2tbsp bread or cake crumbs

Oven temperature fairly hot 190°C (375°F) Gas 5.

Stew the fruit in a pan with the lemon rind, juice and cinnamon. Brush a charlotte mould or basin (5 inches) generously with melted butter. Cut the crusts off the bread. Trim one piece to a round the same size as the base, dip into the melted butter and fit in place. Dip the remaining slices in the butter and arrange round the sides of the basin, reserving one piece for the top. Add the sugar and crumbs to the stewed fruit, mix well and fill the basin. Cover with the last slice of bread, trimmed to fit the mould. Cook in the middle of the oven for about an hour, turn out and serve with custard or cream.

Basil and apple jelly

My friend Matt sent me this recipe which comes from ‘Jams Pickle and Chutneys’ by David and Rose Mabey. It goes very well with pheasant.

Ingredients

2lb apples
1 pint water
Sugar
Lemon juice (2 tbsp per pint of apple jelly)
Fresh basil (6 sprigs per pint of apple jelly)

Chop the fruit roughly, no need to peel or core it. Put into a saucepan with the water and simmer until soft; stir and press the fruit with a wooden spoon while it is cooking. Then put the pulp through a jelly bag and let is strain until no more juice drips. Measure the volume of juice and for each pint take 1lb sugar. Return the juice to the pan; stir in the sugar, lemon juice and basil. Boil to set, and remove the herbs before pouring into jars.

Spiced apple and raisin crumble

Everyone has their own crumble recipe, but I couldn’t write a piece on apples and not include my favourite crumble from Delia Smith. I love to eat this cold the next day with yoghurt for breakfast.

Ingredients

8oz plain or wholewheat flour
3oz butter at room temperature
3-4oz soft brown sugar
2lb apples, peeled, cored and sliced
3oz raisins
1oz soft brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
2tbsp water

Preheat oven to gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C).

To make the crumble topping place the flour in a large bowl, add the butter and rub it lightly into the flour using your finger tips. When it looks all crumbly and the fat is dispersed evenly, add the sugar and combine well. Place the sliced apples, raisins, sugar and spices in a saucepan, sprinkle with the water, then cook gently until the apples are soft and fluffy. Spoon the mixture into a 3 pint pie-dish and sprinkle with the crumble topping. Use a fork to even it out, but don’t press it down. Cook for 30-40 minutes until the topping is tinged with brown. Serve with cream, ice cream or yoghurt.

Baked apple and almond pudding

Another old fashioned pud from Delia, along the same lines as Eve’s pudding. I find I don’t need to bake for nearly as long as she says in the recipe, so keep an eye on this one.

Ingredients

1lb apples, peeled, cored and sliced
2oz soft brown sugar
4oz butter at room temperature
4oz caster sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
4oz ground almond

Preheat oven to gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C).

Place the apples in a saucepan with the brown sugar and a spoonful of water, simmer gently until soft, then arrange in the bottom of a buttered 1½ pint pie dish. In a bowl, cream the butter and caster sugar until pale and fluffy and then beat in the eggs a little at a time. When all the egg is in, carefully and lightly fold in the ground almonds. Now spread this mixture over the apples and event out with the back of a tablespoon. Bake for one hour. Serve warm or cold with cream.

If you have an apple recipe to share, I’d love to hear from you. I need to start gathering new ones ready for next year…

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