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 ..one 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.