Bake me something with Apples


My story starts with apples & some very unexpected pears.

I have in my garden a somewhat misshapen apple tree, variety unknown. Possibly, maybe Pink Sparkle? The apples it produces are very special, they have pink & red speckled flesh & every year, as Autumn approaches I get excessively excited at the prospect of their harvest. I’m not alone in this, it’s a family thing now, when it’s time to harvest, sheds are clambered on, squirrels are dueled with to get every single last one of these beauties. And there’s a waiting list of people wanting them… Hmmm…

This year to add to the excited, the pear tree has put forth some joyous bounty, something so rare, it’s only ever happened once since we became custodians of this miniature orchard. There were 8 at last count. but curiously there seems to be a few missing. More curious still was finding the very top & stem of a pear outside my French doors one day last week. I’ve either got squirrels with a twisted sense of humour (which would not surprise me) or invaders of the more human variety, either way, pear scrumpers! How very dare they!

There’s been a steady stream of windfalls this week, although some are beyond help, given they’ve bounced off the shed, the wall, possibly the back of the Mini, maybe the back of the house & then unceremoniously smashed onto the path, not even the squirrels want them. The rest have used for cake.

The problem I had though was which recipe.

I have I would say, the best part of 50 cook books, this is not a confession by any means, one should never feel the need to confess to owning large numbers of books in my humble opinion, especially in areas of interest. I feel the same about shoes too but that’s a whole different story! Getting back to cook books, I know I had a recipe for apple cake, for an 8″ tin, with sultans & wholemeal flour but could I find it? Well no…

I looked through my favourite – go to books , you know , Mary, the WI, Julia Duff, a few recipes but not the one I was looking for.

I looked through the files of my own recipes … Nothing

I even looked at Delia…. Zilch

We needed Apple Cake so I settled for a Dorset Apple cake recipe, very nice I’m sure but not the one I knew I had. Got distracted, had to make tea, apples were tucked up for the night.

But in the morning, something very odd happened.

I’ve been extensively sorting out cupboards (which boardly speaking covers the entire house). I was looking through a load of paper work, all sorts of stuff, pirate maps, children’s painting, drawings, birthday cards, coloured in table clothes, you know the usual stuff & there right at the back was a recipe I’d written years ago, for Apple cake.in the back of a box I hadn’t looked at in years. It was the one I was looking for… Spooky…

It was a sign, well a recipe, so I made it!

Really need to read through new/old recipes before I make something, although some of my greatest mistakes have some of best discoveries, but perhaps not this time…

Windfall apples for some reason tend to be on the small side at the moment, & complete buggers to peel, de-seed & chop. Note to self, maybe wait for larger apples. No just make the cake, MAKE THE BLINKIN CAKE!!!!

 

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Gathering of ingredients
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Pink Sparkle flesh chopped
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All battered up & ready to pop in the oven
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A very tense & impatient 2 hours later…

And the we wait… for what seems like ages…

So whilst we wait a little natter. Something that has happened a fair bit over all the time I’ve been baking is people asking for my recipes.  I must admit it’s not something I normally do, although I am always surprised & deeply flattered.

There’s lots of reasons why I don’t.  And you can ask any baker who has spent time developing their recipes, sometimes for months, sometimes years, that it’s very precious to them, something they have worked hard to create, to improve upon time & time again, to ultimately to perfect. I feel a little bit like that. I’m extraordinarily proud of the recipes I’ve developed over the years, my lovely lemon drizzle, my delicious chocolate sponge, & particularly my gingerbread recipe. I do get laughed at because they’re top secret & believe me they are! Especially the gingerbread but there is an other reason.

What if I’ve not written it right, what if I do something I’ve not written down, what if it ALL GOES WRONG!!! Now that, that is quite a scary prospect for me.

So for the time being, unless I write a book, of course, it will all remain quite secret! Well the bit I can remember because that’s how secret some of my recipes are, even to me!!!

Anyway, on with the cake. It’s cooled enough to cut, well not quite but I’ve waited long enough! I do my usual ‘hmmm, not quite right, needs more this, less of that, not quite sure it’s perfect’ make notes, eat another slice (bakers privilege) to just be sure.

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Morish, & moist!
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Just one more slice

Make another tomorrow.

And just to clarify & again in no way is this a confession but 50 cook books was a little on the slim side of things… Roughly.. er.. 128…

My name is Nokomis, I am CocoaNoko & I AM addicted to books!

 

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Autumn Light


Autumn

I love Autumn! It’s such an amazing season, so much change, so much colour & so much seasonal yumminess! We’ve got three pears on our tree in the ‘orchard’, 2 fruit trees make an orchard don’t they? They’re hanging on in there, it’ll be our first ‘crop’, too excited for words!  The alleged ‘Pink Sparkle’ apple tree is having an amazing year with a bumper crop, I’m growing inpatient waiting for them to be ready to pick & it seems so are the squirrels! This may be war!!  The brambles have been making a run for it, they are prolific growers are they! I thought I had it all under control, relegating it to a patch under the fruit trees, but no, they are EVERYWHERE!!! Given that my gardening ethos runs along the lines of ‘the natural look’ with the emphasis on ‘slightly wild’ it really should come as no surprise! The benefits are a bountiful crop of rather delicious blackberries!! Once again I’m thinking impossible thought of growing my own, of working the ‘land’ and the book on self-sufficiency is out again… Maybe it will get done… Maybe..

Blackberries!

The season of Autumn brings with it a change in our needs & wants with regards to food.  No more calling for refreshing salads, thoughts turn to hearty soups, veg laden stews & streaming hotpot, of crumbles & pies, syrup pudding & custard, & treacle pie & custard, of wholesome things & filling stodgy – warming, cosy comfort food & custard! And lets face it Autumn has well & truly arrived, like a switch, suddenly it was here! Cold, wet & cloudy, outdoor adventures to be rewarded with cake & hot chocolate & indulgence – it’s chilly, we need the extra calories to keep warm! Yep, of course we do…

The first crumble of the season has been made & it was divine! Apple, pear & blackberry with lashings of fresh homemade vanilla custard! It was the food of kings, with just enough let over for breakfast! The perfect amount made! I did forget the oats, but it just means I needs make it again to aim for perfection, with custard.

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The change in flavours brings about a change of menu too & I’ve been having great fun, looking for old Autumn recipes, mouth drooling as I work and now I have the daunting task of putting it all into the menu.  Simply, there’s just too much loveliness to choose from. Old favourites such as sticky toffee are back with a potentially explosive twist, apples feature hugely starting with apple & cinnamon & ending with Queenies!! And Treacle, Autumn without a mention of Treacle is just wrong! Or pumpkin! Lovely, squishy, squashy pumpkin with hints of spice! Are you drooling, you should be! I haven’t even mentioned gingerbread yet, my utter delight! I LOVE to make gingerbread, & my modest (ahem..) collection of cutters is ready & waiting to tease into fantastical shapes & things, if only for my amusement!Silly Moo

Hugely looking forward to the traditional activities, the Autumn season creates, Harvest, gathering in the fruits of our labours! So pleased to see this becoming something we talk about again.  It seems to have become something taken for granted over the years, but with the resurgence of interest in where our British food comes from, it’s logical Harvest should now get a mention! The glorious taste of carving the pumpkin, although I remember it being a swede when I was youngun! How things change! I can’t wait for Hallowe’en & Bonfire Night!! And all the food & yumminess associated with them! Glorious feast of apples & spice & treacle!! I just can’t wait!

So I will try my best, to create the best Autumn Menu I can, full of warmth & delight, of morish mmm’s, & magical morsels, perfectly resplendent in the lovely Autumn light! Ready & waiting to tempt you at Treacle Market, at this seasonal time of year!

Pumpkins