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Friday, 30 October 2015

A foodie friday with Falling Cloudberries by Tessa Kiros

Last Friday, there were yet more apples from the allotment. I needed another new apple cake recipe. Looking through the book shelves, I came across one of my cookbooks which I'd bought on a whim years ago, "Falling Cloudberries" by Tessa Kiros.

To be honest it was the title and the cover which seduced me all those years ago. That, and the stunning photographs that lay inside...of food, of different landscapes.

As I've said previously, I love a cook book with a back story and Tessa Kiros certainly gives the reader one of those. She was born in England - her mother was Finnish and her father was a Greek Cypriot,then, as a small child, she went to live in South Africa. Add in years of travelling, and then being married and living in Italy, she's obviously inherited and amassed a lifetime of different recipes.

We're taken back to both her grandfathers' recipes, from the fishy dishes of Finland, to Cyprus, to  sun baked South African cuisine and to her mother in law's Italian food made with love. Each recipe tells a story, gives a glimpse into a time gone by. Foodie memoirs if you like.

I've made a number of these recipes in the past - milk tart, chicken and oregano to name but a few, and I've been meaning to make the Finnish meatballs with lingonberry jam for ages. But as I flicked through the recipes gathered in South Africa, I found my new cake recipe.

Apple cake with toffee filling. That sounded good, something a little different from the other ones I've been making in this extremely productive apple season.

It's a very easy recipe, even though...wait for it....I've not made toffee before. Luckily this was a soft toffee topping, a kind to teeth toffee topping. Which was just as well, as I lost a filling last year to a rather hard sticky toffee.

But you don't want to read about my teeth, oh no, so let me tell you, this cake has a soft sponge and a caramelly, toffee coated top. But where are the apples  I hear you ask? Well, they're secreted at the bottom of the cake..

Doesn't it look pretty?  As I made it late in the afternoon, I resisted the temptation to test and taste the cake, as Mr Thinking of the days and I were off out for supper at Jenny's, our dear sister in law's house. Just as well, as we ate rather a lot. Three courses, all delicious. A lovely meal with prosecco, wine and I believe there may have been whisky later .

We all promised ourselves a bracing walk the following morning, but the sky was dark, the rain was bucketing down. So when Jenny, her partner Roger and our cousins Mike and Jane popped around, we decided to stay in for a while to see if the rain would stop. It didn't, so hot coffee and cake was required. Luckily there was one to hand....

And no, Boo and Eric, my two terriers, did not manage to get their paws on the cake, despite them looking longingly at the cake. The rest of us agreed that we liked the combination of all three layers, and it was one to make again. Oh, and yes, Jenny and Jane wanted the recipe.

So here it is....

Apple Cake with Toffee Topping


3 apples
100g butter
200g caster sugar
1 tspn vanilla extract
3 eggs
200g plain flour
2 tspns baking powder
60ml of milk


20g butter
115g caster sugar
125m ml of single cream ( I used double and it was fine)

How to make

1.Preheat the oven to 190 degs F/gas mark 5, then grease and flour a deep 24cm springform tin.

2.Peel the apples and cut them in lengthways. Cut each half into about 6 slices, removing the core. Arrange the slices in the tin.

3.Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla essence until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, beating after each one. Sift in and beat the flour and baking powder.

4. Beat in the milk until the mixture is soft and fluffy. Put this mixture over the apples and smooth the top. Bake for 35 - 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and make the topping.

5.Put the butter and sugar into a small saucepan and cook over a medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes until the sugar melts and turns light caramel. Add the cream, drop by drop initially, then in a steady stream, taking care that it doesn't splash. Lower the heart a little and simmer for another minute.

6.Loosen the side of the springform tin. Serve warm or a room temperature.

Tessa Kiros suggests serving with vanilla or crème fraiche ice cream, another recipe in the book, but we just ate it as it was.

And so, another apple cake, which I will definitely make again.

"Falling Cloudberries" by Tessa Kiros was published by Murdoch Books in 2004 and is still available.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

A foodie friday reviewing Sarah Raven's recipes on a Saturday

September and October mean apples, and I've been picking them at the allotment for weeks now. I have three apple trees, two are cookers and the other is a variety with the warmest, rosiest glow.

There's been quite a number of them, and I've been using them every which way I can.

So on my day off, it was time to hunt through my recipe books to make something different. I've already stewed pounds of apples ready for crumbles this winter and made a few apple cakes. But I wanted to make something different.

And I struck gold with this book from Sarah Raven, which was published back in 2007 I think....and I'm pretty sure I bought my copy about five years ago.

Now this what I call a generous cook book. And by that I mean, this is one of those labour of love books where the author has given we readers  her life time's experience of growing and cooking fruit and vegetables. This is not one of those  a hundred recipes a book if you're lucky type of thing on a double page spread type of book. Oh no. It's not a fancy pants type of cookery book either, with long, infinitely long winded and show off recipes either.

It literally is full to brim of tasty, workaday recipes to make the most of the produce from your garden and allotment. And as I've begun to grow more vegetables and now have fruit trees, I'm discovering different sections of the book.

The first new recipe to try was celeriac and apple soup...another way to use up  apples. This is a pale, silky textured and comforting soup. The sweetness of the celeriac married with the sharp freshness of the apples worked really well for me. Unfortunately my other half wasn't so keen.

But he did like the next new recipe very much... ...a Kentish apple cake. Now, I've made a Dorset Apple cake before but never one from Kent, and it's quite different in method and texture.

Here's the recipe....

225g unsalted butter plus a little extra for the tin
350g self raising flour
1 tspn ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
110g of sultanas or raisins soaked for an hour in water
175g castor sugar
75g toasted hazelnuts , chopped
450g cooking apples such as Bramleys
grated zest of 1 lemon
3 large eggs
plenty of Demerara sugar for dusting

How to make

1.Preheat  oven at 180 degs /gas mark 4 and grease and line the bottom of a 20cm loose bottomed cake tin

2.Pulse the sifted flour, cinnamon, salt and butter in a food processor until it looks like fine breadcrumbs. Put the mixture in a bowl and stir in the sultanas, sugar and toasted nuts

3.Peel, core and chop the apples and add to the other ingredients with the lemon zest. Lightly beat the eggs and put them in.

4.Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake in the oven for one to one and a quarter hours or until firm to the touch. You may need to cover the cake with foil to prevent it from becoming too brown on top.

5.While it's still hot, sift over plenty of Demerara sugar, and let it cool in the tin or a wire rack.

As Sarah Raven says, it's a good cake for tea or you can serve it warm as a pudding with lots of thick cream. I've now tried both ways of serving...and both are equally as good!

The more I use this book , the greater is my admiration for the sheer breadth of recipes..and there are some lovely photographs by Jonathan Buckley.

Incidentally, you can still obtain personally signed copies of this book - Sarah Raven's Garden Cookbook published by Bloomsbury  from Sarah's own website.