Autumn is well and truly upon us. There is a nip in the air and the leaves of the Virginia Creeper in the courtyard have turned glorious shades — rich reds, deep orange and yellow. We've been foraging for hazelnuts, elderberries, damsons, harvesting apples, and picking up windfalls. We've got a poor enough crop this year, largely due to several frosty nights during apple blossom earlier in the year.
If you didn't manage to plant a few apple trees last year, it's time to dash off to your nearest garden centre to pick up a Crimson Bramley tree, the variety that makes the fluffiest apple sauce and glorious apple pies, tarts and fritters, jams and jellies.
The windfalls are perfect for apple sauce. Don't worry about the odd bruise or slug bite, just cut them out.
Give the apples a good wash but for apple jelly, don't bother to peel. Add the stalks and seeds too — they all add extra pectin and contribute to the deliciousness. I’ve noticed that many young people are conditioned to seeing ‘perfect’ fruit in supermarkets, most of which have been heavily sprayed. They have never seen ‘real’ fruit, larger or smaller or misshapen versions so are scared to eat anything that’s not perfect. These fruits often taste even more delicious.
Myrtle Allen's apple snow
We love this simple, traditional featherlight pudding. It’s great with shortbread biscuits or even Lady Fingers — amazingly delicious for little effort
Preparation Time 10 mins
Cooking Time 10 mins
Total Time 20 mins
450g (1lb) Arthur Turner, Lanes Prince Albert or Bramley cooking apples
approximately 50g (2oz) granulated sugar
2 organic egg whites
cream, soft brown sugar and shortbread biscuits or Lady Fingers, to serve
Peel and core the apples, cut into chunks and put into a saucepan. Add the sugar and 1-2 dessertspoons of water, cover and cook over a low, gentle heat for 8-10 minutes, stirring every now and then until the apples dissolve into a fluff. Rub through a nylon sieve or liquidise. Bramley apples can be very sour at the beginning of the season, taste and add a little more sugar if it seems too tart.
Whisk the egg whites until stiffly whipped, then fold in gently. Taste, pour into a pretty glass bowl, pop into the fridge and serve well chilled with cream, soft brown sugar and shortbread biscuits or Lady Fingers.
Bramley apple and sweet geranium jelly
A simple and delicious recipe using Bramley Seedling apples.
Preparation Time 40 mins
Cooking Time 40 mins
Total Time 1 hours 20 mins
6lb crab apples or Bramley Seedlings
2.7 litres water
6-8 large sweet geranium leaves (Pelargonium Graveolens)
Wash the apples and cut into quarters, no need to peel or core. Windfalls may be used, but make sure to cut out any bruised parts. Put the apples in a large saucepan with the water, geranium leaves and the thinly pared rind of the lemons.
Cook until reduced to a pulp, approx 30 minutes. Turn the pulp into a jelly bag and allow to drip until all the juice has been extracted – usually overnight.
Measure the juice into a preserving pan. Warm the sugar in a moderate oven 180°C/gas mark 4 for about 10 minutes, allow 450g sugar to each 600ml of juice.
Squeeze the lemons, strain the juice and add to the preserving pan, add a few more geranium leaves if the flavour is still very mild. Bring to the boil and add the sugar. Stir over a gentle heat until the sugar is dissolved. Increase the heat and boil rapidly without stirring for about 8-10 minutes. Remove the geranium leaves.
Skim, test and then pour the jelly into sterilised jars, put a sweet geranium leaf in each jar.
Cover and seal immediately. Makes 6-7 pots
Swedish apple and cardamom cake
Delicious served warm as a pudding or with a cup of coffee
Preparation Time 10 mins
Cooking Time 50 mins
Total Time 60 mins
2 large eggs preferably free-range and organic
175g (6oz) caster sugar
110g (4oz) butter
150ml (5fl oz) creamy milk
185g (6 1½ oz) plain flour
1 tsp freshly ground cardamom
3 tsp baking powder
2-3 Bramley Seedling cooking apples (350-400g/12-14oz approx.)
25g (1oz) caster sugar
For the cardamom sugar:
20g (¾ oz) caster sugar mixed with 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom
1 x 23cm (9 inch) round springform tin
Preheat the oven to 200˚C/400˚F/Gas Mark 6.
Grease the springform tin with a little butter and dust with flour shaking off any excess.
Whisk the eggs and the caster sugar in a bowl until the mixture is really thick and fluffy. Bring the butter and milk to the boil in a saucepan, and stir, still boiling, into the eggs and sugar. Sieve in the flour, add the ground cardamom and baking powder and fold carefully into the batter so that no lumps of flour remain. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin. Peel and core the apples and cut into thin slices, arrange them overlapping on top of the batter — some will sink but don’t worry. Sprinkle with the remaining sugar.
Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 180˚C/350˚F/Gas Mark 4, for a further 20 - 25 minutes or until the apples are tender and the cake is well risen and golden brown. Sprinkle with cardamom sugar. Serve with softly whipped cream or custard.
‘You can’t cook well if you don’t understand your ingredients’ — a quotation from Glynn Christian’s new book ‘Taste! How to Choose the Best Deli Ingredients’ encompasses the knowledge he has accumulated over 45 years in the food business and he’s on a mission to share. It’ll be your go to book for sourcing the very best ingredients to make great-tasting food. Published by Grub Street.
If you are fortunate enough to have a glut of home-grown apples and want to preserve your precious crop for autumn and winter, here’s a tip…go along to your greengrocer and ask for a few of the compressed cardboard trays that divide imported apples in boxes. Arrange your apples on these and store in a cool place — perhaps your garage but make sure it’s mouse-free — or put them in large covered plastic crates. It’s such a joy to have home-grown apples throughout the winter. The air will circulate around them – inspect them regularly and use up any that seem to be deteriorating.
Can you imagine anything more comforting than coming home on a dark, chilly evening and knowing that you're going to have a hearty, healthy, delicious supper. During the winter months it's important to feed yourself with wholesome and nutritious food to keep your body healthy. Let us show you the best way to make sure your chunky winter stews, tagines and soups are delicious, nutritious and make everyone want to go back for a second helping.
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