Less Noise, More Green: Apple picking and Somerset Apple Cake

Friday, September 20, 2013

Apple picking and Somerset Apple Cake

Honey Crisp Apples

Last weekend, Computer Man and I went apple picking. Each year we go to the same farm in North Scituate, RI. Barden Family Orchard  grows twenty varieties of apples, plus peaches and raspberries. They also grow corn, pumpkins and a variety of vegetables.Their farm shop shelves are stocked with their own jellies and jams and local cheeses and honey. We always buy a gallon of their own apple cider, which we drink cold and hot, mulled with fall spices.

This trip, we picked a bushel of apples! Half a bushel of honey crisp, which are great eating apples, and half a bushel of assorted cooking varieties.

Many of the honey crisp will be eaten with lunches and as snacks (Computer Man's new favorite is apple slices smeared with natural peanut butter), while the rest will be turned into apple muffins and cake, among other things.

I use apples in the winter at breakfast to make baked fruit, eaten hot with oatmeal, and for dessert in crumbles with cranberries or blackberries. To make my life easier I peel, core and quarter groups of five apples and freeze them. Used thawed or frozen they are a time saver - then. Now I have to process them, which is time consuming and pretty boring work. Thank goodness for Rhode Island PBS and Masterpiece Theater (I have a little TV in my kitchen) !

The other use for the apples is apple sauce. This year I canned 18 pints of sauce. Last year I canned a dozen and we ran out so I hope I've made enough! My food mill is about to go out on strike or report me for appliance abuse, so I better be done!

I will post my apple sauce recipe in a later post but I want to share with you my recipe for apple cake. This recipe was given to me by my Mum. Somerset, in England, where I grew up, is known for it's apples and it's cider (hard cider, very strong, hard cider. I miss British pubs). This cake is so heavy with apples it is almost a pudding. I love it's denseness and pure apple flavor mixed with all spice, the spice of autumn.

Somerset Apple Cake Recipe
Somerset Apple Cake

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease either a 8x8 square baking pan or a 8" loaf pan.

8oz butter, softened
8oz brown sugar
2 eggs
2 cups of self-raising flour,
or 2 cups of all purpose flour mixed with 2 tsp. of baking powder and a tsp. of salt.
2tsp. baking powder
5 or more cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped (fresh or frozen)
2tsp. all spice
Raw cane sugar

Cook the apples with a little water in a sauce pan until the apples are broken down, but still lumpy. Pour into a bowl and put to one side to cool.
Cream the fat and the sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time and whisk until incorporated. Add the cooled apples to the mixture and fold in.
In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and spice. Add to the wet ingredients and mix to combine. If the mixture is too dry, add a little milk, it should be quite wet.
Pour into the prepared baking pan and sprinkle with raw cane sugar, if desired.
Bake for one hour or until brown on top and a tooth pick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Let cool in the pan before turning out on to a plate.

I enjoy this cake warm with a little vanilla yogurt.

OK, back to peeling apples - "Upstairs, Downstairs" is on PBS. What I'd give for that kitchen and a scullery maid!


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