home baking

Baked apple goodness for a winter night

I love vintage tea towels. Especially when they have old school recipes on them that remind you of foods you used to eat when you were young. This was the case with one of my favourites, a cooking with apples tea towel. Bright friendly colours keep you company as you wipe up your dishes but also gave me inspiration for dessert at my friends this week.

As a child dessert wasn’t a bit thing at the end of a meal. Sure there was coffee and biscuits but actual desserts weren’t a big feature so when my mum made her fabulous baked apples everyone was always around the dinner table, the oft used excuses to disappear into teenage bedrooms forgotten. Well for my siblings anyways. Being eight year younger I was always happy to hang around the dinner table with Mum, not having reached the joy of teens years just yet. But I digress. My Dad wasn’t too much of a sweet tooth preferring a slice of cheese and fresh apples after dinner but loved Mum’s baked apples,  so we knew that Dad was in Mum’s good books when they appeared after dinner.  Such a simple dessert but coupled with ice-cream it was such an easy after dinner treat.

Lo and behold my fabulous vintage tea towel featured a similar recipe transporting me back to my childhood. Their recipe also featured glace cherries and brandy made into a sauce with the buttery goodness left behind, a step which I left out because a) I don’t really like glace cherries and b) I thought the caramelised buttery sauce was nice enough without a splash of brandy which I don’t actually have on hand anyways!

So I know I haven’t really revealed the full temptation of a baked apple as yet. Just the title doesn’t really give away the treat it is, so I will explain the very simple method and try and entice you even more. Quite simply, you just core out the apple’s whole, score the skin so it doesn’t burst open and make a mess and then stuff the cavity of the apple with a combination of softened butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. Imagine then baking these stuffed apples for about half an hour in which time the butter and sugar caramelise to a butterscotch sauce at the bottom of the pan and the apple flesh cooks down to a soft, sweet filling. No we are talking hey? Now put that delicious apple into a bowl, top with vanilla ice-cream and enjoy! You can thank me later, don’t worry.

Ingredients (serves four)

4 granny smith apples (these bake really well but if you have a favourite apple by all means use them!)

3 tbsp softened butter

2 tbsp brown sugar

pinch cinnamon

Method

  1. Core out the apples and score the skin
  2. Mix the butter, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl until combined and softened
  3. Spoon and push the butter mix into the cored cavity of the apples
  4. Either place the apples in individual ramekins and on a tray to bake or onto a paper lined tray with the edges folded up to catch the butter sauce
  5. Bake at 180 degrees for about 30 min or until the apples have softened
  6. Remove from oven and serve with vanilla ice-cream. If you have baked them on a tray, put into serving dishes and carefully pour over the remaining sauce sauce from the oven tray.

Seasonal Fruit – Apple Recipes

Autumns and winter aren’t exactly synonymous with luscious fruits. The cool temperatures aren’t the best of friends with warmth dependent fruits such as peaches, mangoes and berries. Their delicate skins can’t withstand chilly frost. Apples, pears and citrus though are winter’s best friend. Their tougher skins don’t mind a little chill so they happily ripen on the trees without the need for a scarf or beanie unlike their human counterparts! This brings us to the second installment of market fresh, seasonal eating how to.

Nothing is more delightful (to me anyway!) than the crisp crunch of an apple. Luckily in my local market I am able to buy waxed fruits which are another delight unto themselves. The surprisingly rough skin allows for an even more earthy delight when biting in. So what to do with surplus apples in the cooler months?

The obvious choices are apple pies or crumbles. But what if you’re after something different? This week I tried my hand at some baking. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy baking but my oven is a bit temperamental. But this week I had access to a far superior oven at Wandering Cooks so I gave some cupcakes and cookies a whirl.

The cupcakes featured apples peeled and diced small whilst the cookies I adapted myself to include an apple puree in place of some of the sugar. The result? Delightful sweet treats which are a little different to the usual offering.

Another idea is to preserve your apples. How? Either through slicing finely and drying in a food drier (mine is a hand me down from Mum but sunbeam has one on the market), or making your own apple puree and bottling it. Apple puree can be used to replace eggs or sugar in some recipes, as a sauce with pork or stirred through porridge. As you can see, apples are very hard workers in the kitchen!

Speaking of porridge, the cookies feature quick oats, another easy kitchen staple. Have your apples and oats as porridge in the morning or as cookies for afternoon tea. Mix the puree through with some larger cooked diced apples, spoon into a dish and make some crumble from the oats and there is your simple dessert. Using your pantry is easy when you have some ideas up your sleeve.

Moral of the story? Sweet or savoury eating in the seasons doesn’t need to be a chore when you can plan ahead or store your recipes according to ingredient. Please feel free to print these recipes and file them so when you have a market trip you know exactly what to do when you get home. Happy shopping!

Recipe One – Apple cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

The apple cupcakes are from food.com. As I followed the recipe verbatim (always a good idea with pastry in my opinion) I’ll just paste the recipe below but the original link is here: http://www.food.com/recipe/apple-cupcakes-41260

The frosting and garnish is mine though 🙂

Ingredients

2 cups apples, skin on, grated

2 cups sugar

2 cups water

1 cup butter

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

3 1/2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Line muffin tins with cupcake papers.

Put the grated apples, sugar, water, butter, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves into a large saucepan and bring to a boil.

Cool; add flour and soda.

Fill paper lined cupcake tins 2/3 full.

Bake until cupcakes spring back when touched in the center.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

Ingredients:

250g cream cheese

2 tbsp apple puree

¼ cup icing sugar

Pinch of cinnamon

Splash of vanilla essence

Method:

1/ Whip cream cheese and icing sugar together until softened and combined

2/ Add cinnamon and vanilla and mix well

3/ Swirl through apple sauce for streaky effect

4/ Spoon generously over cupcakes and top with dried apple

5/ Dig in

Recipe Two – Apple and oat cookies

Ingredients 

250g butter, softened

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/3 cup apple puree

2 eggs (large)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 ½  cups plain flour

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp baking soda

Pinch of salt

3 cups quick oats

Method:

  1. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Slowly beat in eggs and vanilla.
  2. In a bowl, sift the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt; gradually add flour mix to creamed mixture and combine well.
  3. Stir in the oats and apple puree
  4. Form into small balls about 1 tbsp in size. Place on baking tray lined with baking paper about 3 cm apart.
  5. Bake at 180 degrees for 10-15 minutes until golden. Cool on wire rack and serve for afternoon tea. Or just eat off the tray. That’s what I did 😉

Recipe Three – Preserved apple puree

Ingredients

2 kg apples peeled, cored and diced small

500ml apple juice (preference is to juice your own but otherwise try and source fresh apple juice from the cold section as these shouldn’t have as many preservatives and sugar. Check the different brand for exact quantities)

Method

1/ Bring the apple juice to a simmer, add the apples and reduce heat

2/ Allow to cook over low heat until softened and remove from heat

3/ Allow to cool for ten minutes to blend safely in food processor or with stick blender

4/ Sterilise jars by covering with boiling water for at least ten minutes in a large pot. Remove from pot carefully with tongs and set onto surface to pour apples into.

5/ Return the apple puree to heat and bring to boil, pour carefully into hot jars and seal lids. Place in pot with tea towel on bottom, cover with boiling water and simmer for half an hour. Allow to cool in water. Test seal has vacuumed down. Store in cool dry area for about 2 months.

Not just a pumpkin scone – my mother’s pumpkin scones

pumpkin scone finished v3

 

Well actually, this is a recipe for pumpkin scones, but not just any pumpkin scones, old school recipe from the 60’s pumpkin scones -mmmm. Once again I baked some treats from my mother’s high school recipe book and happened across the pumpkin scones and with a 1/4 pumpkin looking forlorn in the fridge and no immediate use in mind a scone it was destined to become!

A few hints for getting the pumpkin to the mashed stage as per the recipes request

– steam if you can don’t boil: pumpkins already have quite a high moisture content and boiling floods them with even more creating a sloppy mash even if you drain it well – steaming prevents this from happening thus ensuring you won’t need to add a lot of flour to compensate

– if you can, bake the pumpkin at a low heat (150 degrees Celsius) until soft for a lovely texture – the low heat ensures the pumpkin doesn’t over colour

As these are home made pumpkin scones and thus have no preservatives if you’d like to have them for more than a couple of days (if they can stay around that long!) freeze them and defrost and toast for an afternoon tea later in the week. Once again I served mine with apricot jam (its a weakness) and lashings of butter. Delicious!

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups SR flour

1 cup mashed pumpkin

60 g butter

1 egg

60g sugar

1/2 cup milk

Method

– Rub butter into flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs

– Make well in centre of flour, mix milk with egg and sugar, fold into flour with a butter knife

– Add mashed pumpkin and mix to soft dough

– The mix will be sticky, flour your hands and use a piece of baking paper to roll the dough out onto

– Once the dough is rolled to about 3 cm thickness cut into rounds with cutter and place on tray

– Brush with milk for a more golden colour if desired

– Bake in oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 10-15 min until golden

– Allow to cool, crack open, butter up and dig in. Yumm….

pumpkin scone ingredients

pumpkin scone dought rolled

pumkpin scone mixed

pumpkin scone finished v3

Let’s Get Baking – Jam Drops

My oven isn’t the trustiest for baking more delicate foods such as cakes and desserts but biscuits and pies that require heat but aren’t quite so temperamental work wonderfully. I was looking through my bookshelf and found my mothers recipe book from her year 10 home economics classes and was excited to find jam drops and pumpkin scones written in amongst the more old school lambs brains and calves livers. Needless to say I skipped over those options and pulled out the ingredients for the baking.

This recipe is for the Jam Drops. I used apricot jam as it is my favourite jam but feel free to go wild with your choices and mix them up with whatever tickles your fancy. Just a few notes here – makes sure you make a decent dip in the biscuits to hold the jam as when they rise  the jam can spill out over the biscuit.

The biscuits aren’t meant to be super firm so as long as they are golden they will be cooked. Remember though, if you make smaller versions less cooking time, larger versions will take a little more. Aim for about ten minutes and check from there. Nothing spoils baking like having them in the oven too long! Trust me, the first batch had a lovely charcoal base which was not the intention!!

So the recipe – My Mother’s Jam Drops

Ingredients:

60g butter

60g sugar

2 eggs (large)

150g self raising flour

1/2 cup jam

Pinch salt

Method:

Cream the butter and sugar together until creamy. Add eggs one at a time mixing well, Mix in flour and salt to form firm dough. If the dough seems a little sticky still mix in some plain flour to bring together.

Roll mix into small balls and place on tray in lines about 5cm apart. Using a measuring spoon or whatever else is on hand, push small indentations into the balls and fill with jam.

Bake in a moderate oven (175 degrees) for 10-15 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool on pan. Serve with tea, coffee, hot chocolate or just eat them straight off the tray as I am inclined to do 🙂

 Enjoy!

Chocolate Fondant Pudding

It was my turn to do dessert again and chocolate fondant was the dessert of the day at work so I thought, why not make some for home too? Mmmm….What is chocolate fondant you ask? Well it is a hot chocolate pudding that has a sumptuous melting middle of chocolatey gooeyness. Now who wouldn’t want that?! For a little special twist instead of just using cream or ice-cream on the side I used marscapone and raspberries. Delicious!

Some notes:

– Marscapone is an Italian cream cheese found in the cottage/cream cheese section of the dairy aisle

– Fondants are supposed to be quite runny in the middle so ensure you cook for time given as a few minutes more will cook the pudding through – not a big drama but not really the point of the dessert.

– Ensure you grease the moulds well as the puddings need to slip out easily as if they catch and burst the runny middle will spill out spoiling the surprise – gentle hands also help!

– You can add some instant coffee for a mocha twist

– Brushing butter upwards in a mould creates tracks for the mix to cling to when it rises thus the upwards strokes ensure the batter clings up evenly not to the side and over the top!

The Recipe

200 g dark chocolate – the better the quality the better the dessert – i use Lindt cooking chocolate

200 g butter softened and cut into cubes

200 g caster sugar

4 eggs

4 egg yolks

200 g plain flour

Directions:

1 Grease the moulds for the pudding and coat with cocoa powder or flour for easily removal. Ensure your brush with upward strokes to ensure the puddings rise evenly

2 Place a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, add the butter and chocolate and allow to melt, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat when fully melted, stir to combine and allow to cool for five minutes

3 Whisk the eggs and yolks together with the sugar until mixture becomes thick and pale,  sift the flour into the eggs, beat mix together.

4 Pour the melted butter and chocolate into the egg mixture in increments beating well between each addition until the all the mix is in and the mixture is completely combined. It willl be slightly runny

5 Pour the mix into the moulds evenly and allow to chill for at least half an hour up to 24 hours in advance. The chilling process assists with creating the crusty outside and gooey inside by keeping the inside of the mix cool whilst the outside cooks

6 Bake the mix for ten minutes until the top is firm and the mix starts to come away from the sides of the moulds. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for one minute before gently turning it out on the plate.

7 To make raspberry marscapone cream whisk some icing sugar into the cream and then gently fold through the raspberries. If fresh raspberries aren’t available I defrost frozen raspberries on paper towel which works just as well.

8 Serve cream to the side with the puddings and enjoy!

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