Apples

We always have more apples than we know what to do with.

We have eight apple trees.  They were all here when we came so I have no idea what most of them are.  In the kitchen garden there are two dwarf trees which are always laden with small eaters which ripen late towards the end of October.  Then there are four older trees.  Two of them have very little fruit but they provide shelter for the chickens and I can't bring myself to get rid of them.  Two of them didn't fruit much when we first came here five years ago but have responded to pruning by becoming quite prolific.  The fruit is pale yellow and of a good size but too sharp to be a dessert apple.  Some of the fruit is misshapen or blotched with scab but the blossom in spring is so glorious I would forgive the trees anything.

In the field there are two more: a battered and bent tree which I was going to get rid of but which I have instead brought into the corner of the orchard and a huge and beautiful Howgate Wonder.  This spreads its skirts wide and produces more fruit on its own than all the other trees put together.  The apples are huge, the size of a baby's head.  When they are first picked they are green streaked with dark red.  We pick them in wheelbarrowsful.  They keep wondrously well hanging in plastic bags in the rafters in the workshop with little care except being taken down from time to time to check that none has begun to rot.  From October to Christmas they are definitely cookers but by late winter the skins have turned yellow blushed with a rosy red and the fruit is sweet enough to eat straight from the hand.

It is quite impossible to use them all.  Every year we give a lot away to friends and colleagues and family.  Every year some go into chutneys and relishes.  I also make apple jellies by the ton: sweet ones with cinnamon or ginger to eat on buttered toast; savoury ones with sage, mint or rosemary to use in cooking or to have with meat.  Most of the puddings we eat here over the winter have to include the compulsory apples.  I could make apple crumble in my sleep, likewise apple pie, apple charlotte and a chocolate apple betty recipe by Nigel Slater brought into the house by my daughters and now a firm favourite.

But my favourite apple recipe of all is a Somerset apple cake.  It comes from a book called Farmhouse Kitchen first published in 1975 to go with a Yorkshire Television series.  I bought the book in a jumble sale at school when my children were small for 25 pence.  It is the source of a lot of my baking staples: cheese scones and fruit cakes, teabreads and pastries.  It has become one of those recipe books that fall open at the most used pages, the paper spattered with years of flying cake mixture.  I had never seen another copy until last year, mooching around a local village show with my daughter on a sunny August day, and there it was on the second hand book stall.  She fell on it with cries of delight and bore it away to her then London flat where its recipes for mutton pies and rabbit paste must have sat oddly alongside Nigella and Diana Henry.  I do hope she has used it.  I must ask her.

So here is the recipe for Somerset apple cake.  It is tremendously easy and totally yummy.  In exchange I would love to have any apple based recipes that you love if you would share them.  There are still fourteen plastic bags full of apples hanging in the workshop roof!

The recipe will have to come in pounds and ounces, just as written in the book.  I am trying to move over to baking in metric but there are some things where I don't even try and this is one of them.

3 oz butter
6 oz sugar
grated rind of one orange
8 oz self raising flour
1 lb of cooking apples, peeled, cored and cubed (you don't need to be exact about this.  I usually use 3 whoppers or 4 smaller ones).  Squeeze a bit of lemon juice on them if you have it to stop them going brown.
2 eggs, beaten
a little milk
about 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar

  1. Grease and line a 9 inch cake tin.  I use a loose bottomed one or a spring form which makes it easier to get the cake out.
  2. Cream together the butter, sugar and orange rind.  I use a hand held mixer for this.  If you do the creaming by hand make sure the butter is quite soft or it will take you forever.
  3. Put the eggs in the bowl with the creamed butter and sugar.
  4. Add the flour and apples alternately, mixing in well.  If the mixture is too dry add a little milk, a spoonful at a time until the mixture goes easily together.  You shouldn't need more than two tablespoons of milk.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth it down so that the top is fairly flat.  If the apples stick out a long way, press them down into the mixture a bit.
  6. Sprinkle the top of the cake with the granulated sugar and cook at 350 degrees F, 180ish C, Gas Mark 4 for 40 to 50 minutes until the top is golden brown and the cake is firm to the touch.  It should just be beginning to come away ever so slightly from the side of the tin.
  7. Leave it to cool in the tin.
  8. You can serve it warm as a pudding with cream or cold as a cake.
I hope it works for you if you have a go.  Any other ideas for North Wales's apple mountain?

Comments

  1. One of the things I made with some of the apples you gave me was Apple Snow - a dish from my childhood.

    To make 4 Servings
    1 lb cooking apples, peeled and chopped
    2 level tbsp castor sugar
    1 level tsp grated lemon rind
    2 eggs, separated
    quarter pintof double cream

    Cook apple, sugar and lemon rind together with a very small amount of water if needed, to make a puree.

    Remove from the heat and stir the egg yolks in quickly. The mixture should thicken.

    Allow to cool and pour into a bowl.

    Beat the egg whites until stiff and in another bowl whip the cream. Fold the egg white gently into the mixture, followed by the cream.

    Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

    Works really well with some kind of biscuit or brandy snap.

    Really tasty as a summer dessert, and you can use frozen apple puree? Ring the changes and try adding cinnamon, or a crunch topping such as granola?

    Hope that helps

    xx

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  2. Haven't thought of apple snow for years Zoe! It wasn't one of my mother's staples so we didn't really have it at home but always loved it when I came across it. It's on the list!

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  3. Sounds rather like the one I posted last year - Rose's Apple Pudding (http://attica-slowlife.blogspot.com/2010/09/glut.html) - and equally easy and delicious. I will get my battered book of apple recipes out again and see what there is in there that requires a generous amount of apples! I'll let you know.

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  4. It sounds wonderful. Here's a recipe that was given to me in 1976 in Pennsylvani. It's called Ozark Apple Cake:
    Cream together:
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    3/4 cup white sugar
    Add:
    2 eggs
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract

    Sift together and add:
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    2 cups flour
    1 scant teaspoons baking soda

    Add:
    4 cups diced apples
    1 cup chopped nuts

    Bake in a greased and floured 9x13 pan for 45 minutes at 375.
    The batter will be thick and lumpy but it all works.

    A cup measure is 250 ml

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  5. Oh my I love apples and we have planted a tree, but it is just a baby. We make an apple scrumble which is a cross between a scone and a crumble. The receipe is here http://www.frugaliciousfood.com/2010/09/apple-scrumble-thats-cross-between.html

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  6. I'd never had apple jelly until I swapped some quince jelly with Michelle who writes an awesome blog called Veg Plotting. It is fabulous - the jelly as well as the blog.

    I like Dorset apple cake very much too - your cake sounds similar.

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  7. Have you thought of making lots of your jams, jellies, chutneys and relishes and selling them to the people that come to stay in your rental cottages? People love to take something home from the place they stayed at. Just a thought.

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  8. Rachel - Rose's Apple pudding is such a lovely name, never mind the taste!
    Pondside - it's on the list. thank you. Sounds totally delicious.
    The madhouse - like the sound of that one too. I am on a roll now!

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  9. I knew I wanted to bake this week and now I have an excuse. Just added four extra apples to our veggie box. Thanks Elizabeth. I make apple pies whenever I can, double crust with sugar on the crust. The sight of one coming out of the oven is just heavenly. Also I made my first ever apple tarts this winter - what a thrill to discover how simple they are. Yum!

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  10. We too are inundated with apples; I still have plenty in storage.

    Lady M's two eye's-closed favourites are crumble and tatin; both of which are wonderful.

    With very little money you could equip yourself for cider making. When we lived in Wales we also used to make apple wine.

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  11. do you "swap" goods?
    apples for say turnips?

    I do it all the time....the last "thing" I bartered for is regular small eggs for a pair of hnd knitted slippers!

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  12. I have all three of the Farmhouse Kitchen books but it's the first one I use most - have you tried the Hereford Sausages? I remember watching the programmes too - if only they made cookery programmes like that these days. If only they had been released as videos at the time.

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  13. I'm just about to blog about making Apple Strudel - a lovely thing to make when the weather says 'stay indoors'.

    I remember Farmhouse Kitchen too - good sound stuff.

    ...and finally, I can vouch for your Apple and Cinnamon Jelly. Delicious.

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  14. Dear Elizabeth, How wonderful to have your bounty of apples and how fortunate your friends are to receive such goodies. I have just the one Bramley in my garden and that produces more than I can cope with so I can but wonder at the quantities that come from eight prolific trees. But, if I were you, I should certainly not wish to be without them.

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  15. I make lots of apple juice from my dessert apples which I store in milk containers in the freezer. If your fruit is sweet enough it would be an excellent way to process a large amounts of apples. We also put fruit outside the garden with a 'please help yourself' sign and they always disappear!

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  16. When I was little my grandmother used to make apple dumplings - delicious but not terribly slimming, I imagine. I've never had a recipe for them, so never got round to trying, but I think they were just wrapped in pastry and baked.

    Our apples are still babies, but I look forward to the time when they start producing!

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  17. Have you tried making a sausage caserole with layers of sausages and layers of sliced apple? Add a herby stock and some snips of bacon and cook in a medium temperature oven.

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  18. Oh gosh - where to start? I'd say buy yourself a press and make juice (you'll need a preservative) or cider.

    We used to have this problem when I was growing up. It seems sad to see them all rot - still I suppose the goodness goes back into the ground. The apple cake sounds delicious - I'm sure you know beter than me all the usual apple recipes, the flans, the crumbles, the tarts, the charlotte's, the pies, the stews. Those big apples - we had a tree like that - we used to core and cut the tops off insert a layer of granulated sugar and then put the top back on again to bake in the oven until squishy. Do you use apple in salads? It goes very well grated with celereriac for instance, although you need to apply lemon juice to stop it turning brown.

    You could always buy a pig, I suppose!

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  19. I was going to suggest apple cake but you already make that. Do you puree some and freeze it for later in the year or do you avoid apples in the summer!!

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  20. Mark - I know Michelle at Veg Plotting and agree, great blog!
    Janice - I have wondered about that as an idea. Quite hard to get it right. I don't want people to feel obliged to buy something. Maybe I should think seriously about it.
    Frith - this week I can a lovely envelope from you, thank you so much. What a great surprise!
    Cro - we have wondered about cider making or apple juice even?

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  21. Oooh, what a delicious recipe, and the others too. I love things with apple in and this sounds like I could manage it. I'm terrible at baking and with pastry, but this sounds more like a crumble or shortbread (ie. within my ability range.) Will try it.

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  22. Sounds delicious, how lovely to have so many apples, we planted some trees last year to make a small orchard. It is in a fairly sheltered spot so we are hoping we will soon have apples here too. Thank you for the tip about the book I am always on the lookout for good traditional recipe books...and I managed to purchase one from Amazon!! Looking forward to its arrival.

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  23. That brought back lovely memories of a dear former colleague who used to treat us to her homemade apple cake!

    Thinking of you. Cx

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  24. John - I haven't ever really swapped anything. You don't have leeks for apples do you?
    Rowan - will look at the Herefordshire sausages recipe, thanks!
    Mountainear - funny, I wouldn't have thought of apple strudel, might have thought it too complicated but it is a lovely idea. Just the thing for a grey February afternoon!
    Edith - I love my apple trees, especially in blossom but all year round really. I think I might need to engage with the cider or apple juice idea though!

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  25. Husband , our resident cake eater , was really keen on the idea of Somerset Apple cake and I've promised to bake one at the weekend for him . But until then , luckily , he'll be perfectly happy with a couple of baked apples , stuffed with dark brown sugar and butter , which he consumes by the score .
    Those unidentified pale yellow tangy apples sound ideal for baking .Or as fried spicy apple rings which are nice with sausages ? And there's always apple fritters .
    The list is almost as endless as your supply !

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  26. I know about a glut of apples with an orchard surrounding us. Charles and I prepare apple pie fillings and freeze them or distribute them through the family and let other people freeze them when we run out of space.

    We have an apple peeler that peels, cores and slices, and Charles runs that part of the operation. I line an aluminum pie plate with enough foil to cover the completed pie filling, cut the slices into quarters and add sugar, cinnamon and bits of butter, - and when the pie plate is full I wrap the extra foil around it and pop it into the freezer. When it is frozen the pie plate can be removed to make more room.

    Very nice to have thirty or forty apple pies all ready to pop into a tasty pastry crust.

    We also take apples to a local juicer who returns the lovely liquid in two quart jars that don't require refrigeration.

    And of course, apple crumbles, pudding and crisps are standard fare.....

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  27. Share my garden - I have wondered about going into apple juice but thought I might need a press. Love the idea of leaving a sign at the gate but no one really comes by!
    Geranium Cat - I have never made apple dumplings but love the name, never mind the taste. Another one for the list!
    H - ah heaven - a savoury recipe! I have the reverse of a sweet tooth. Definitely try this one.
    Fennie - love apple in salad and love celeriac. Might have gone a bit soft for that now, but the baked suggestion, could do that right now.
    Helen - we do puree, in fact we have blocks and blocks of the stuff. Ian uses it very religiously but I begin to fade after a bit and like a couple of months off so I can get excited about apples again in autumn!

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  28. When I read your blog I thought I have that book here in New Zealand (bought in the Lake District).

    However on checking mine is The Farmhouse Kitchen by Mary Norwak also printed in 1975 and the recipe for Somerset Apple Cake is slightly different - must try yours

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  29. EPM - this is definitely not a tricky recipe. Hope you try it and it works!
    Posie - oh I am glad you have found the book. Hope you like it as much as I do. I think personally that the sweet recipes are better than the savoury. Wonder what you will make of it.
    Chris - thank you. Hope things are looking up for you too!
    S&S - hope your OH likes it after all this build up!

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  30. Try making home made vinegar. It is so easy: just rinse the apples, then chop up the apples (stems, seeds, skin,everything) , or just use the peels if you want to use peels up from other baking project. Let the apple bits sit until they brown or oxidize a bit, then put them in a large jar and cover with a good filtered water.

    Cover the jar with gaze. You can continue adding more apple bits until a white foam developes. At that point stop adding apple bits, and store the mix, still covered some place that won't freeze or get really hot. Wait about a month, or longer if you want really strong vinegar.

    Drain off the fluid and just like that, you have made yourself vinegar for cooking, cleaning, medical treatments like wound care as it is anti biotic and anti viral.

    You can flavor the vinegar with berries or herbs too.

    Vats could be made if you really want to use up all your apples!

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  31. I am just off to buy another apple tree. That will make eight. However, they are all at the 'large stick' stage so I will have to put this recipe on the back burner for now.

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  32. I turn ours (which are not very good eating apples) into applesauce -- and I still have one HUGE jar of the stuff taking up vital space in the refrigerator.
    Apple pie, of course. (my favorite recipe for it is on the domestic sensualist blog)
    Which cookbook does the Nigel Slater chocolate apple betty come from?

    I am making orange marmalade right now . . . and I've made too big a batch of it and the darn stuff won't set! Argh.

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  33. I have that very ancient the cookbook and am going to try the cake, thanks for recommendation Elizabeth.

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  34. It seems apples are the subject of the month in both hemispheres. I have just today posted on my blog about my first apple crop.
    http://scribblingsfromjumbunna.blogspot.com/

    I have been wondering what I will do with all the apples we have yet to pick. Reading your post and skimming through the many responses, it looks like there are almost too many solutions to my dilemma. Tomorrow I will be reading all the comments thorougly, and taking notes!

    Your blog is always interesting and entertaining; I have enjoyed following for some time now.

    Susan

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  35. Apple! I think apple is the most important to keep our self healthy...And Your information about the apple is very good for us..so nice of You..keep it up:) thanks

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