21 October 2013

on a great place and apples



"Rafe says 'This house always smells of apples'.

It is true; Great Place is set among orchards, and the summer seems to linger in the garrets, where the fruit is stored. At Austin Friars the gardens are raw, saplings bound to stakes. But this is an old house; it was a cottage once, but it was built up for his own use by Sir Henry Colet, father of the learned Dean of St Paul's. When Sir Henry died Lady Christian lived out her days here, and then by Sir Henry's will the house devolved to the Mercer's Guild. He holds it on a 50-year-sub-lease, which should see him out, and Gregory in. Gregory's children can grow up in the aroma of baking, of honey and sliced apples, raisins and cloves. He says 'Rafe, I must get Gregory married' 'I'll make a memorandum' Rafe says, and laughs."

Bring up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel, 2012, p 137

I loved this book, and imagining Thomas Cromwell in a house in Stepney scented with apples gave me great pleasure.  All that remains of those orchards are maps and place names, so we went to Kentish orchards instead and tasted all sorts. My friend was very impressed at how many apples I could fit into the two-bags-for-a-fiver on offer. The trick was to choose the smaller ones, and then eat them down to the stalk and the pips. It rained most of the day, so we were too damp and lazy to make a note of what we stuffed into our bags, but a vague memory and a quick squint at the national collection website confirmed that my favourite was the Zabergau Renette, the russety apple speckled with red at the centre top of the basket. 


It's not all good news for apples however. I was utterly dismayed to hear on the news that 40% of the apples sold by our largest supermarket chain are wasted. Joanna's thoughtful post on "the power of free" suggests how we might avoid waste and make good.  Clearly more places need to be filled with the aroma of baking, of honey and sliced apples, raisins and cloves. Or parsnip and apple soup, celery and apple salad, apple sauce, chutney. I'm thinking apple crumble tonight to go with supper, just for a start, or maybe an apple cake or two. I need a few more ideas though so...

I'm also thinking maybe it's time to spread a little urban making and baking love. A little while back food writer and allotment holder Jojo Tulloh came to our WI and I bought a copy of her book The Modern Peasant with the specific idea of sharing it.  It's not a glossy modern baking book, but a more reflective exploration of how city dwellers can make the best of what's available locally, including growing our own, preserving and fermenting. You don't have to live in a city to enjoy the book. Some of the text might make you wince a little (did we need to know, Jojo, that you parked your bike in a mews etc?). But its heart is in the right place and the recipes are for everyone who might want a little food adventure.

Here's the deal. If you'd like your name to go into the basket to win a copy of the book, leave me a comment with your favourite apple recipe suggestions, with links if you can because we might want to make it. I'll leave the comments open until 30th October and publish the winner on Halloween.


12 comments:

CamberwellGal said...

Your apple post reminds me very powerfully that I need to have another go at trying to replicate the apple gebak/cake I ate in an Amsterdam cafe when I worked there for a couple of months in 2006 (eek - how time flies!). They seemed to come out of the oven and queues would miraculously appear in seconds, and the cake vanish soon after. With a large dollop of 'slagroom'(whipped cream) on the side of course (mostly to make me and my visiting sister snigger in a suitably teenage manner as we ordered it. Almost as funny as slaapkamer (bedroom)).

This is the closet online version I can find easily to hand: http://foodnouveau.com/2011/10/destinations/europe/netherlands/a-deep-dish-apple-pie-amsterdam-style/

E15 kids said...

I heartily recommend the recipe for apple and blackberry cobbler which features in the Fergus Henderson 'Beyond Nose to Tail' book and is reproduced here:
http://www.parkinsonsappeal.com/pdfs/telegraphmagazine.pdf
Chilling the dough for a few hours means that you have to be organised but it is well worth it. With teenagers in the house it disappears very quickly - no worries about waste here - I guess that will come when they leave home and I struggle to adjust my catering.

Joan

annjennyg said...

Just at the moment, I am enjoying a salad called 'cold weather slaw' which uses apple,red cabbage and beetroot ( which I still have lots of from the allotment). The recipe was from Waitrose and I blogged about it last year.
http://fenlandlottie.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/beta-vulgaris.html

Lizzi said...

I recently found the recipe for Nigel Slater's English Apple Cake which is easy peasy and very, tasty. I, too have had a glut of apples and made lots of apple jelly which I flavoured with various herbs. I got the recipe for that from 'The Quince Tree' blog which has the most amazing recipes.

Dawn said...

I will only buy apples grown in the UK as it seems immoral to buy something we grow beautifully from the other side of the world.
We always eat sliced apple with lasagne, it's gorgeous.

Shandy said...

I always hanker after Brown Betty. This is basically like a crumble but topped with breadcrumbs, butter and sugar. The butter melts and runs down among the apples. Easier than crumble, too.

Stacey @ bakercourt said...

As Autumn draws in and the nights get longer (and colder), I am a firm believer that all cakes should be served with warm custard if possible. My suggestion is a maple toffee apple cake (like this one, from Mrs Mulford's Cakes and questionable taste in tv humour http://mrsmulfordscakes.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/maple-toffee-apple-and-chocolate.html) served with a generous order of custard on a cosy night.

Annie @ knitsofacto said...

It feels a bit naughty to link back to my own blog, but I posted two of my favourite apple recipes there last year, apple curd, and windfall jelly. The apple curd can also be used as the basis for a cake or pudding, just add flour. And if you do click through my readers suggested apple recipes in the comments too. http://knitsofacto.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/apple-curd-and-windfall-jelly.html

monix said...

I'm linking back to my blog, too. This was my mother-in-law's closely guarded recipe for Devonshire apple in-and-out. Traditioanlly made with suet, I prefer to make a slightly less guilt-making sponge mixture.
http://randomdistractions.blogspot.co.uk/2010/11/apple-in-and-out-and-gone.html

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

Apple cake always makes the house smell heavenly . The health shop had a recipe for a very virtuous version with oat flour , coconut oil and goji berries . I wonder ?Perhaps not .
Meanwhile , I do rather fancy a Bishop's Thumb !

Liz said...

I'm going to suggest a personal favourite from my childhood when the choice of apples was whichever box my dad had bought from the warehouse to sell in the shop. (In those days I didn't know apples had names. They were just apples.) So, apple fritters. Easily made but here's Hugh's recipe:

http://www.channel4.com/4food/recipes/chefs/hugh-fearnley-whittingstall/apple_fritters

Joanna said...

Somehow I missed this earlier. You made me realise I rarely do more than two things when cooking with apples: make apple crumble or stew them with blackberries. I am sure you didn't need me to tell you about that! But I am looking forward to trying some of the other suggestions here.