Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Up the apples


Autumn is for apples!  Our generous neighbours across the road have once again been setting out trays of windfalls for anyone to help themselves.  After I'd stewed and frozen a few bagfuls, I decided it was time to try out some new recipes, which you are welcome to peruse below.

We also went along to Calke Abbey's Apple Day, where we got to wander round the orchard and taste some of the dozen or so traditional varieties that they grow.  We enjoyed the Ribston Pippin enough to buy a bagful.  The bag then broke in the unlit and sloping Gardeners' Tunnel, and we had to chase runaway apples down the hill in the dark! 

Apple tasting.  Yes I know I have grass all down my back.
Toby helped out with some apple pressing.  The machine chewed up and squashed down a mass of apples to produce juice, all run on manpower (or childpower) alone.  The juice tasted mostly of bruised apple though, I thought.  Perhaps it would be better fermented.

He pushed the handle round to compress the apples.

Was it worth the effort?

Theo was just excited about the tractor and trailer in which they were putting all the leftover apple bits.


And so to the recipes...

Apple Meringue Pie

I adapted this from a recipe called "Apple Amber" in the classic 1000 dessert recipes.  It tastes really good, but be warned - the filling is not set when it's hot!  If you leave it to cool it will slice in a proper pie fashion; or you can leave out the pastry, as in the original version, and just scoop it out with a spoon.  Either way this is a great autumn alternative to a lemon meringue pie.

mmm, pie!

Pastry
3 oz butter
6 oz plain flour
iced water

Filling
1lb 8 oz cooking apples, peeled and sliced
3 oz sugar
1.5 oz butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon (or a cinnamon stick)
3 eggs, separated
3 tbsp caster sugar

Make the pastry, either by rubbing the butter into the flour or using a food processor.  Add enough iced water to bring it into clumps, then turn out onto a counter and knead lightly to bring together.  Put in a bag and leave in the fridge for half an hour.

Put the apple slices in a saucepan with the sugar, butter, and cinnamon, and cook gently until the apples have broken down.  Give it a good stir to get rid of any lumps.  At this point I put mine in the fridge overnight, and beat in the egg yolks the next day.  The original recipe suggests that you can beat them straight into the hot mixture, but it's the kind of book that doesn't always go into detail.  You may want to leave it to cool first.  Anyway, let's assume you've got the egg yolks in there at some point.

For the meringue, whisk the egg whites until stiff.  Whisk in half the caster sugar until glossy, then gently stir in the rest.

To put it all together, roll out the pastry to line a 9-inch pie dish.  Line with greaseproof paper and add baking beans, then bake at 200C / 400F for 10 minutes.  Remove the paper and beans and cook for 5-10 minutes more until just done.  Turn the oven down to 150C / 300F.

Pour in the apple filling.  Top with the meringue and bake at the lower temperature for about 35 minutes until the meringue is golden.  If it's getting too dark you can cover it with foil.  Serve warm (with the caveat about the runny filling) or cold.


Chocolate Apple Betty
This was an extremely delicious-sounding recipe from the Autumn 2015 National Trust magazine.  I wouldn't usually put dark chocolate and apples together, but why not?  I reduced the sugar content slightly, as brown sugar and chocolate and golden syrup sounded awfully sweet.  And I only had wholemeal breadcrumbs, so you can use those if it makes you feel virtuous.


Filling
1 lb 8 oz cooking apples, peeled, cored, and cut into chunks
1 oz butter
2 tbsp water

Topping
4 oz fresh white or wholemeal breadcrumbs
3 oz light soft brown sugar
3 oz dark chocolate, roughly chopped
2 oz butter
1 oz golden syrup

Put the apples in a saucepan or ovenproof dish with the butter and water.  Stir over a moderate heat until they start to soften, but aren't completely mushy.  If they're in a saucepan, tip them into a baking dish.

Mix the breadcrumbs, sugar and chocolate and sprinkle over the apples.  Melt the butter and syrup together and drizzle over the top, trying to coat as many of the crumbs as possible.

Bake at 190C / 375F until the apple is soft and the topping is crisp and golden.  Serve with cream or ice cream.

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