We don’t hear it said much now, but when I was a child, “she’ll be apples!” was a common comment. It means “everything will be fine; it’ll be OK”. My home state, Tasmania, was known as the Apple Isle, as we grew the best apples in Australia, and regularly exported them to Britain, Europe and Japan. No wonder I love apples so much!
Way back in January I promised you more apple recipes, and now the winter solstice is almost upon us, here are some warming apple recipes. For these you’ll need cooking apples – Grannie Smiths or whatever the equivalent is in your neck of the woods. I’ll start with the easiest – basic stewed apple, as stewed apples or applesauce form the basis for many cake recipes, as well as going really well with pork, bacon and vegetables like kale or cabbage.
Basic Stewed Apples
4 large cooking apples, peeled, cored and roughly sliced
Enough water to cover slices in a medium sized pan
2 tablesp sugar, or the equivalent in honey (to taste)
1 inch” piece of ginger, peeled and julienned (thin strips) (optional)
4-6 whole cloves (optional)
1 stick cinnamon broken roughly into pieces (optional)
Peel of half a lemon, cut roughly (optional)
Squeeze of lemon juice (optional)
A lot of these ingredients are optional, depending on what spiciness you want for your stewed apple. At it’s most basic, I put a few bits of lemon rind (pith & all) from a recently squeezed ½ lemon, in with the apple slices.
Pour in just enough water to cover apples, bring to the boil & turn down immediately to a very slow simmer. Don’t go far from the stove, stewed apple cooks very quickly! When the slices are soft enough to mash with a spoon or fork, remove from heat and take out all spices and lemon peel. Allow to cool slightly, then stir in sugar or honey. Adjust sweetness to taste, and add lemon juice for a better flavour.
To make applesauce, simply mash or puree your stewed apple.
A winter treat from my childhood, these are almost as simple to make as stewed apple, and are perfect with cream, icecream, or as my Scottish grandmother used to serve them, with bright yellow custard made with custard powder.
4 large cooking apples (makes 4 serves, or 2 for 2 greedy people)
1/3 cup of chopped dates, sultanas or any dried fruit
2 tablesp brown sugar
½ teasp ground cloves or cinnamon (optional)
A shallow baking dish large enough to hold all four packed close together.
Thoroughly butter the dish for the apples. With an apple corer (a nifty gadget available from most kitchenware stores), carefully remove the core from each apple. Cut off a little from the base of each core to make a plug; fit the plug into the apple it came from for the best fit. Then with the point of a sharp knife, carefully score all round the equator of the apple. This stops the skin bursting as the apple cooks.
Stand the apples in the baking dish. In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, spices, and dried fruit. Spoon carefully into the apple hollows. Top with a small knob of butter. Pour about an inch (2.5cm) of hot water around the apples. Cover dish with a sheet of baking paper or foil
Bake in preheated oven (180C/350F) for 15-20 minutes. Remove cover and bake another 10-15 minutes until the apples are soft. Don’t worry of some of the filling runs out the apples; the hot water makes a light syrup with the sugar, butter etc.
Note: If you have something else cooking in your oven, such as a roast or a casserole, put the apples on a lower shelf and cook for a while longer.
Apple & Sultana Loaf
An old-fashioned ‘teacake’, Apple & Sultana Loaf is perfect for afternoon tea, toasted or warmed and spread with butter and accompanied by a pot of your favourite tea. It’s also a good standby for packed lunches or between meal snacks. This loaf can be made in two ways – with diced raw apple or with stewed apple/applesauce.
1½ cups self-raising flour or plain (all purpose) flour & baking powder to make SR
1 cup sugar
1 teasp ground cinnamon
½ teasp ground cloves
2 eggs, lightly beaten
125 gm (4 ounces) butter, melted
2 large cooking apples, peeled, cored & diced
I cup of sultanas.
About a tablesp of milk or water, if needed
Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl, toss in the apple cubes and sultanas, and stir to coat fruit with flour. Add the cooled melted butter to the beaten eggs, then stir this liquid into the dry ingredients. Add the extra liquid if the mixture is too stiff. Do not overbeat, just mix well.
Spoon into a greased and lined loaf pan (23x13.5x7xcm; 9x5½ x2 3/4 inches) and smooth the top. Bake at 180C (350F) for 40-45 minutes, or until skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool for at least 10 minutes before removing from pan. Leave to cool completely before cutting. Sadly,fluten-free flour will not rise as beautifully as wheat flour!
Note: You could try using eating apples instead of cooking ones for the raw apple version, but they don't always cook as well.
Variation: replace raw apple with 1 cup unsweetened stewed apple (or reduce your sugar) . Mix the melted butter and the beaten eggs into the stewed apple, then proceed as before. This variation may take a little longer to cook.