Our wonderful, lichen clad old apple trees have worked their two yearly magic again. It must be magic – how can so many apples be borne on such ancient fragile looking frames?
Some are huge ‘cookers’ (though actually, they don’t need sweetening. Perhaps the years have dulled the sharp tang expected of cooking apples in favour of sun ripened, beautifully balanced crisp fruits). Others are small, red and earthy green eaters.
I can’t help wondering what delights the apples would have been put to over the years. One day we will get an apple press and make our own proper juice. We have blitzed and made ‘whole fruit’ juice, but it would be fab to bottle and store clear apple nectar.
Alongside copious amounts of chutney, destined to be Christmas presents for everyone we know, and anyone else who takes an interest, we have bought and filled a new chest freezer. Stewed apple will be on the menu in various forms until at least May, I’m sure. We have worked our way through ‘Normandy Chicken’, apple Charlotte and many others, including a number of different forms of apple cake.
This one was perfect for us both, being wheat, dairy and everything else (virtually, apart from ‘apple’) free. The recipe is from ‘You’ magazine.
Spiced Layered Apple Cake.
Serves 8 (or 2, depending on how many of you there are…)
330 g white sugar (I only used a Tbs)
2Tbs finely grated lemon rind
i tsp ground cinnamon
2 vanilla beans (pods),split and seeds scraped
2 KG Granny Smith, or other eating apples, approx 12(as they hold their shape when cooked)
2 Tbs lemon juice
Double Cream, or Greek yogurt, to serve (that bit’s not dairy free!)
- Preheat oven to 180C / gas 4. Line a non stick 20cm round springform tin with non stick baking paper, using an extra layer for the base. Line a baking tray with non stick baking paper and place the tin on the tray (see note, below)
- Place the sugar, lemon rind, cinnamon and vanilla seeds in a medium bowl and use your fingertips to combine.
- Peel the apples and rub all over with lemon juice (see Tip). Using a Mandolin slicer, finely slice the apples to 2mm thick.
- Line the base of the tin with one layer of apple slices, placing each slice over half the previous slice. Sprinkle evenly with 2 Tbs sugar. Repeat, layering with rest of the apples and the sugar mixture.
- Bake for 50 minutes. Press down gently on the cake, using the back of a large spoon, and cover tightly with foil. Bake for a further 35 – 45 minutes, or until the apple is very soft and the top layer is caramelised. Allow to cool slightly in the tin.
- Put a sheet of nonstick baking paper over the tin and place a slightly smaller plate on top of the cake. Weigh down with a heavy weight and refrigerate for 2 – 3 hours, or until cool and firm.
- Run a small knife around the edge of the cake. Carefully remove from the tin and place on a cake stand or plate.
- Serve chilled with double cream, yogurt or ice cream if you wish.
- NOTE: The apple will release quite a lot of delicious syrup as it’s baking so it’s a good idea to double line the tin and place it on a lined tray, to catch the spills.
- TIP: The lemon juice helps prevent the apples from browning before they are cooked.
“We must cultivate our garden”
Candide, by Vlotaire
Candide starts out as a dreamer, saying, “”This is the best of all possible worlds,” which has no practical application. By the end of the story, he has learned from his experiences that he must do what can, where he is.
Volaire is pointing out that we must put our efforts into improving ourselves and into caring for those immediately around us. That is the purpose of life.
The phrase demonstrates that Candide has grown through his life’s experiences.