Apples and Autumn

This time of year is Harvest-festival time; Friday was Michaelmas.

According to British folklore, Michaelmas is the end of the blackberry season. An old story about how, when St Michael threw Satan out of heaven, Satan landed in a blackberry bush. Satan cursed the blackberries; he stamped, spat and urinated on them, thus making them unfit for consumption.

I was going to write about my first chocolate trip since July, which was to Haiti, with an 80% bar from Waitrose, but I can’t now remember how it tasted. Well, certainly. It had the bitterness of cacao; it melted smoothly on the tongue, and snapped cleanly. I don’t recall the underlying flavours. I’ll have to return.

Apples

So, instead, it’s apples. Home-grown, windfallen Bramleys. We went home at the beginning of September, and returned with about 25lbs of apples. They filled two and a half carriers. A few went bad and were thrown, but I stewed the rest. Had a crumble and Belgian hot lightening pie out of the first lot, with two extra servings set aside for freezing; another crumble and three more servings from the second lot.

Last year, we basically lived on apple cake and crumble for a month. This year, I’ve frozen it.

I tried something different for the second stewing. I found a recipe for Swedish apple cake, in the ScandiKitchen recipe book, which calls for apples stewed with butter, sugar and cinnamon. Swedish apple cake is one of the best apple cakes I know, so I thought I’d try stewing the apples in this manner. I already had a couple of servings of normal stewed apples, anyway.

I’m glad I’ve got three lots of spare cinnamon apples. So delicious. I’m saving one lot for my Christmas cake this year.

 

(Almost) According to Someone: Apple Crumble

This time of year is apple-picking, cider-making season, for fruit just off the trees, and apples don’t get tastier than that.

At no other time of the year, do apples taste as good as they do from the end of August to the middle of October.

It’s also the time of year when that wonderful pudding we call a crumble really comes into its own. It seems in recent years to have been supplanted by the pie, which is a shame, if you ask me, because for a proper pudding, with a dollop of cream, a spoon or two of ice cream, or a splurge of custard, you can’t beat the humble crumble. And a pie isn’t really a pudding, which, for me, invokes thoughts of farmhouse baking, and pies should be savoury. Don’t get me wrong, I’m partial to sweet pies too, but crumble beats pastry any day.

And apple crumble is probably the best sort of crumble.

photograph to follow. Technology not working.

This recipe was collected at some point while I was still at school – I have vague recollections of making it in cooking-class. I also have recollections of arguing with my teacher about how to make it. She wanted me to stew the apples first, I wanted to just use slices. I still prefer my crumble to have sliced apple rather than stewed. Partly laziness, partly because that’s how my mother used to make it. Life’s too short for stewing…

Anyway.

You’ll need:

2 Bramley (or other cooking) apples, peeled and sliced (I didn’t peel them)

75g butter

125g sugar

150g self-raising flour

Soak the sliced apples in salty water for a few minutes, then drain and spread in your baking dish and bake them for about 10 minutes. 180C should be about right.

To make the crumble, mix the butter, sugar and flour until it looks like breadcrumbs. Pour over the top of the apples. Maybe sprinkle some extra sugar on top. I was taught to trace a snail-swirl in the top, but that’s optional.

Bake until it smells ready, or about 20 minutes.

Serve with cream, ice cream or custard.

And never mind about granola for breakfast – this cold! So much tastier than granola or cereal.