Posts Tagged ‘Apples’

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Sharing the Love

November 9, 2010

I’m under no illusion about the reasons behind my baking, there is absolutely nothing altruistic in my providing treats for those around me. It is a fair and equal exchange between me, the baker, and those that receive the finished goods (bakee?).  If I didn’t live near such lovely people, or work with those whose company I enjoyed, I would bake far, far less. Or weigh far, far more. But I’m lucky. I have good neighbours, friends and colleagues and they enable me to indulge in my hobby and I know that they are lovely people, whose company I enjoy through, my baking.

The rewards extend beyond the pleasure I get from the recipe books I hoard, the planning and baking and even beyond watching others enjoy what I have created; my relationships with neighbours especially, have developed in part because I needed people to offload the products of my kitchen onto, which in turn has led to some good friendships.  At work, the baking provides a framework for connections and small talk, leading what can be odd office dynamics to develop into something more genuine.

Last week a colleague shared with me more apples from her garden, these apples have been a real bonus and  have provided a wonderful autumnal theme to recent baking sessions. I won’t repost the recipes in full, but this weekend I took the latest batch of apples and made a stock of apple sauce as per Deb’s recipe on Smitten Kitchen. Most went into the freezer for future use, but one batch was saved for Sunday’s pre-dawn (I’m looking forward to spring already) baking session and her Spiced Applesauce Cake. I didn’t bother with the frosting and I really don’t think it needs it. It’s so easy to bake and only takes 35 minutes in the oven, there’s a tartness and moistness from the applesauce that I really enjoyed especially against the toasted nuts.

If you read here with any regularity you’ll know my affinity for courgettes and spotting Nigel Slater’s cake that combined the two was the highlight so far of his latest book.

This is a wonderfully easy cake to make, and the moistness from the courgettes and apples are offset by the crunch of the nuts. I used a mixture of walnuts and pecans and you could play around to your heart’s content with the nuts and dried fruit combinations. Having baked so much recently from American recipes the ‘pinch’ of cinnamon seemed overly cautious, and you could add nutmeg or mixed spice quite happily I think. I hint of citrus might not have gone amis either, the zest of an orange would do wonders to lift it slightly – perhaps judge on the tartness of your apples? I would avoid any juice as additional liquid content might cause problems with the water from the courgettes and apple (top tip only discovered after I’d made this, so I can’t vouch for its effectiveness is to put the apples and courgette in a salad spinner to remove the excess water – might have to make this cake again to try it out – let me know if you use this method).

So, whilst autumn makes its presence known with the reversion to GMT and leaf-blocked guttering, step into your kitchen and bake this to share with your family and friends. Or perhaps make new friends and connections by wrapping up to give to neighbours and colleagues.

A Cake of Apples and Courgettes

Nigel Slater; Tender Vol II

200g butter

200g caster sugar

2 large eggs

150g/2 small courgettes

1 small apple

200g plain flour

Pinch of salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

Pinch of cinnamon (be generous)

60g pecans, roughly chopped

60g sultanas

Preheat the oven to 180C and prepare a 20cm x 12cm x 9cm loaf tin (I doubled quantities and made several smaller loaves – all the better for sharing and also gave me chance to try out the tin liners from Lakeland)

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy – about 5 mins in a stand mixer

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl

Beat the eggs and add slowly to the butter and sugar mixture

Coarsely grate the apple and courgettes (I used a processor – far quicker and less messy, especially if you have juicy apples) and then squeeze in a clean tea towel to remove excess water

Fold the courgettes and apples into the mixture then slowly add the flour mixture until just combined

Add the nuts and sultanas, scrape the batter into the prepared tin and bake for oner hour or until it is golden and firm to the touch.

Allow to cool in the tin

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Ginger and Apples – what’s not to like?

October 22, 2010

Autumn has arrived, the leaves are turning, the temperature is dropping, and I have spent most of a Sunday making my Christmas Cakes. Whilst I will have to wait weeks to sample those, below is a recipe for something that is simply Autumn wrapped up in a muffin case.

I still had plenty of the apples donated by my colleague, and knowing how much my Dad likes ginger cakes went looking for an appropriate recipe. As always Smitten Kitchen is one of my first ports of call and Deb doesn’t disappoint with her Gingerbread Apple Upside-Down Cake recipe. I adapted the recipe to fold the apples into the batter so I could make into cupcakes and chopped the apples into 1cm square pieces rather than the wedges suggested for the cake, forgoing the ‘topping’ although I suppose you could caramelise the apples before folding into the batter. These are beautifully moist and the perfect accompaniment to a mug of tea on an afternoon.

Can I also point out my current favourite thing – the small green patterned board that the muffins are sitting on in these photos. Something I brought back form my recent trip to Norway. I’m in love with the colour and patterns, a different one on each side. It sits on my kitchen work surface and makes me smile on these ever darker mornings.

 

Gingerbread Apple Cakes

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

4 apples (1 3/4 lbs) peeled, cored and chopped into small pieces, less than 1cm

112g butter

112g light muscavado sugar

1 large egg

1/3 cup molasses (treacle)

1/3 cup honey

1 cup buttermilk

375g plain flour

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

In a large jug combine the egg, treacle, honey and buttermilk

In a separate bowl sift together the flour, bicarb, salt and spices

Beat the butter and sugar in a mixer on high-speed until flight and fluffy (approx 8 minutes)

Add the flour mixture and the wet mixture in batches  alternately to the butter mixture and mix until incorporated

Finally fold in the chopped apples before spooning into prepared muffin tins

Bake for 35 – 40 mins until a springy to the touch and a toothpick comes out clean.

I was wary of over-filling the muffin cases as gingerbread mixture can rise a lot, however these didn’t, probably due to the fresh apple, so be generous when filling.

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Autumn Apples

October 8, 2010

The Sticky Marmalade Tea Loaf from my previous post used up the jar of marmalade that had been mocking me from the fridge shelf. So I promptly went out and bought another one – because you can’t not have marmalade in the house can you? I am aware of the contradiction but should state that unopened jars in the cupboard do not elicit the same anxieties as open ones housed in the fridge – am I revealing too many neuroses in one post here?

I’m glad I did replenish my stock though, because my new copy of Nigel Slater’s Tender V2 arrived and one of the first recipes I flagged was his Apple and Marmalade Cake. I had been given an enormous bag of apples harvested from a colleagues tree so the ingredient gods were smiling on me that day.

I have made this cake again since, doubling the ingredients and making many small loaves as I wanted to give them away to neighbours – it works just as well.

 

Wholemeal Apple and Marmalade Cake

Nigel Slater

220g butter at room temperature
210g light muscavado sugar
4 eggs
250 g wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
200g (peeled & cored weight) apples chopped into pieces less than 1cm
100g sultanas or raisins (I used a mixture of both)
125g Marmalade
Zest of an orange
Demerara sugar for sprinkling on the top
Pre heat oven to 160C and crease and line a 20cm cake tin.
Combine flour, cinnamon and baking powder
In a separate bowl combine the marmalade, raisins and/or sultanas, apples and zest
Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy then add the beaten eggs, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary
fold in the flour followed by the fruit and marmalade mixture
scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top and sprinkle with Demerara sugar
bake for 1 hr 15 mins (my double recipe made 5 small loaves which I baked for 45-45 mins)

I have also used the apples to make Deb’s Wholewheat Apple Muffins which I first tried last year . I was disappointed last time, but the addition of mixed spice added the depth that I think was missing previously (I reduced the cinnamon to 1/2 a teaspoon and added a teaspoon of mixed spice) I also made sure that the apple pieces were a little smaller, more suited to a muffin. Make sure you fill the muffin cases well, these do not rise that much in the oven so you need to be generous with the batter.

I have found more use for the many apples gifted to me including an apple and date chutney that is currently maturing before I can review it, and an apple and gingerbread cupcake that I will share with you shortly. I have my eye on an apple and courgette cake from Tender (courgettes currently earmarked for my morning porridge though) and of course,  apples and autumn also mean it’s nearly time to make my mincemeat in time for mince pies!

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Gin in the AM (and another bundt)

December 6, 2009


Not hair of the dog but an ingredient in the mincemeat I made this morning in preparation for mince pies.

Another Sunday, another 4am start and another few hours spent in the kitchen. The idea for gin and the base recipe I used came from a friend who kindly gave me a taste of her batch earlier in the week. I am a little scared of mince pies as pastry is my baking nemesis. Last year, full of good intentions, with family coming to visit, my Christmas Eve baking session ended up in the bin. Luckily I had some shop bought ones in the cupboard and when people arrived the house at least smelled of fresh, home-baked mince pies (and no, I didn’t try and pass them off as my own!).

There was something very therapeutic about chopping the apples whilst listening to yet more torrential rain. The high point of the morning was adding a little of the cooling (pre-gin) mixture to my porridge. The finished product is sat, in jars, maturing and waiting for me to be brave enough to attempt the pastry.

This weekend I also put my Christmas decorations up, fed the Christmas cakes again and had a little slice of the test cake – delicious. I love this time of year.

As the mincemeat didn’t call for me to use the kitchenAid I of course had to bake something else too. I went with Dorie Greenspan’s ‘All-in-One Holiday Bundt’ crammed full of cranberries, pumpkin, apple, nuts and spices, it’s just delicious.

Mincemeat

Makes about 1 1/2 large kilner jars
200g muscavado sugar
175g butter
Juice and Zest of 3 oranges (approx 200ml)
Zest of 1 lemon
Heaped tsp mixed spice
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

750g Bramley Apples finely diced (approx 4)
340g currants
340g raisins
200g dried cranberries

Put butter, sugar, orange juice and spices in a pan, heat slowly until smooth, add apple, zests, dried fruits and bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer for 10 – 15 mins or until the apples are soft. Allow to cool then add the gin …. and a bit more … and go on just a bit more. I added a lot of gin … I will let you know how it turns out in a few days!



All-in-One Holiday Bundt Cake
from Dorie Greespan’s ‘Baking, From my Home to Yours’

300g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2tsp bicarb
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tps freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
135g unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar (I reduced to 3/4’s)
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar (I used reduced this too, to about 1/3 cup, not packed)
2 large eggs at room temp
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree
1 large apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
1 cup cranberries, halved
1 cup pecans roughly chopped (I used walnuts).

Butter and flour your bundt tin and preheat the oven to 175C
Mix flour, spices and raisin agents in bowl
Mix butter and sugars until light and fluffy (approx 5 mins) at medium speed
Add eggs one at a time, beating for 1 min after each addition
Add vanilla
Reduce speed and add pumpkin and apple – Dorie points out at this point not to worry if your mixture looks curdled – mine did!
On low speed add the dry ingredients but do not over mix
using a spatula stir in cranberries and nuts – spoon into pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.
Bake for 60 – 70 mins, leave to cool in tin for 5 mins before turning out onto a wire rack.





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Sunday Bake-a-thon

August 20, 2009


On the same Sunday morning that saw me conquer the lemon drizzle disaster I also needed to use up a carton of buttermilk. Most of the buttermilk recipes I’ve collected are bundt cake ones which I adore. I never tire of looking at (and picking at)the cracked top as it cools in the tin before turning it out and marvelling at the smooth underside. Plus they’re dream cakes for slicing and sharing.

A mixture of fresh and frozen blueberries along with just enough lemons left from the nemesis cake and I was good to go with this recipe from Bonappetit. This cake is delicious and was a hit with everyone. Don’t forget to coat the blueberries in flour to distribute them evenly throughout the batter.

And, because I can never bake just one cake I also attempted these apple muffins from Smitten Kitchen (there was also a Victoria Sandwich, but more on that another time).



I’m not won over by these muffins. I think the memory of the apple and date cake is still too wondrously fresh for another apple based recipe. I didn’t help by not chopping the apple into small enough pieces – again my lack of forward thinking meant I didn’t fully consider the end muffin sized product. However, the crumb was lovely and light and the smell alone whilst they were baking was wonderful

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My Kind of Cake

August 7, 2009

Despite my love of baking, given the choice I would opt for savoury end of the baked goods spectrum. When I visited Betty’s Tearooms in York earlier in the year it was the fruit cake with Wenslydale that jumped out at me rather than the display of sweet patisserie. When I saw the photo of this cake made by Johanna of Green Gourmet Giraffe I immediately thought that this is my kind of cake. Plus, I had all the ingredients to hand.

Johanna is based in Melbourne where it’s winter, so this moist, dense fruit filled cake must make for the perfect accompaniment to a pot of tea on a chilly afternoon. The seemingly constant wet weather here meant it didn’t feel too odd to be making such an autumnal dish at what’s supposed to be the height of summer.

Johanna had adapted the original recipe by changing caster sugar to demerara and substituted some of the plain flour for wholemeal. I added a tea spoon of mixed spice and next time I make it (which will be soon) I will try the addition of a handful of walnuts.

Apple and date cake

2 green apples, peeled, cored and chopped into chunks

1 cup (155g) pitted dated, chopped

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)

1 cup boiling water

125g unsalted butter

1 cup (250g) raw sugar (demerara)

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 cup (155g) plain white flour

½ cup (77g) plain wholemeal flour

1 tsp mixed spice

Topping:

60g unsalted butter

½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed

2 tablespoons milk

Cover chopped dates and apples with bicarb and boiling water and set aside to cool – the wider the bowl the quicker this will be, approx 1 hour.

Beat together butter a sugar until pale and creamy add eggs and vanilla essence. Add the fruit mixture and fold in the flours in two lots

Spoon into a well greased 23cm round cake tin and bake in a preheated 180C for 45-50 minutes.

Prepare the topping about five minutes before the cake is due to come out of the oven by mixing all the ingredients in a small saucepan over a low heat until the butter has melted and sugar has dissolved (you can also do this in the microwave). Allow the topping mixture to cool and thicken slightly before spreading over the cake.

Return the cake to the oven for another 15 – 30 minutes (it was just 15 minutes for me) test by inserting a skewer