Every day would appear to have an awareness-raising twin and sometimes it can all get a bit wearisome – the awareness thing stretched to the point of wafer thin credibility.
But two of my favourite preordained calendar events are coming up. The first is Movember. I just love Movember. It’s wonderful to watch men living out their alter egos in the pursuit of hirsute. Generally speaking men don’t get much of a chance to live life large in a follicular way. Regular trips to the barber’s – short again! So let men have Movember and raise awareness for….oh yeah, that’s right prostrate cancer.
My other top ‘Day’ other than Christmas Day, is Apple Day, flipping up on your calendar today, Tuesday 21st October.
My main reason for liking Apple Day is that apples are delicious. Other reasons in no particular order are:
- It fits seasonally and therefore makes sense in a way that other ‘Days’ can only aspire to,
- There’s more to apples than the year round yawnsville varieties available in the supermarkets would have you believe,
- I have an abundance of apple trees in my garden and frankly could do with more Apple Days in the year to highlight the cairns of fallen fruit that lie beneath them.
In fact I love apples and Apple Day so much that I’ve made up a ditty. You may recognise the first line:
An apple a day, keeps the doctor away
An apple in your pie, keeps you young and spry
So without further ado here are my favourite things to do with apples on Apple Day, or at any seasonally appropriate time of your choosing.
Apple and Bacon Strudel
First up savoury, even if the savoury is confused by being a strudel, normally a puddingish treat.
This is a Nigel Slater recipe and as with most NS recipes is very comforting and perfectly suited to shortening days and dropping temperatures. It’s also easy to throw together – using filo pastry and a more unusual way to cook up an apple based feast.
800g apples, medium sweet or cooking variety
a little lemon juice
300g smoked back or streaky bacon
100g coarse and fresh breadcrumbs
6 sheets filo pastry
Set the oven at 180C/gas mark 4. Core and chop the apples and put them in a bowl (or slice them into thin segments if you prefer) then squeeze a little lemon juice into the bowl and toss them gently to stop them from browning.
Roughly chop the bacon, then let it cook in a shallow pan over a brisk heat until it is approaching crispness, season with a little pepper then add the apples and continue cooking until they have softened.
Melt the butter in a small pan. Place a sheet of filo pastry on a large metal baking sheet, then butter it generously, brushing right to the edges. Scatter a small handful of the breadcrumbs over the surface then place another sheet of pastry on top. Brush the pastry sheet with butter, freckle the surface again with crumbs, then continue until you have used all six sheets.
With the long side of the pastry sheets towards you, place the pile of apples and bacon on the short, right-hand side of the pastry, leaving a margin of pastry at the edges. Roll the pastry up into a fat sausage then press and fold the edges to seal.
Brush the outside of the pastry with butter and bake for about an hour, covering the strudel with foil towards the end of cooking, to stop it from burning. It should be a deep walnut brown on the outside, and the apples within should be soft.
Serve in thick, crumbly slices.
Mary Berry’s Apple Dessert Cake
After watching the Bake Off final last week I feel disposed towards marvellous Mary Berry but primarily this recipe makes the cut because it knocks the socks off other apple cakes. It’s so delicious, absolutely the bees knees when you’re feeling eleven o’clockish or weak and in need of a sugar kick mid-afternoon, or even as dinner party pud. Your guest will give you mighty praise.
225g self-raising flour
1 level tsp baking powder
225g caster sugar
2 large eggs
½ tsp almond extract
150g butter, melted
250g cooking apples, peeled and cored
25g flaked almonds
Preheat the oven to 160C/fan 140C/gas 3. Lightly grease a deep 20cm loose-bottomed cake tin.
Measure the flour, baking powder, sugar, eggs, almond extract and melted butter into a bowl. Mix well until blended, then beat for a minute.
Spread half this mixture in the prepared tin. Thickly slice the apples and lay on top of the mixture in the tin, piling mostly towards the centre. Using 2 dessert spoons, roughly spoon the remaining mixture over the apples. This is an awkward thing to do, but just make sure that the mixture covers the centre well as it will spread out in the oven.
Sprinkle with the flaked almonds. Bake in the preheated oven for 1¼-1½ hours until golden and coming away from the sides of the tin.
Serve warm or cold, dusted with icing sugar and crème fraiche.
Baked Apples with Ice Cream
If all else fails then the least you can do is core a few apples, stuff them full of spicy fruit, throw them in the oven and serve them with shop bought vanilla ice cream. Unbeatable.
You really don’t need a recipe for this. Just play around with fruit, brown sugar, cinnamon and whatever else takes your fancy….however if you don’t have a lot of confidence Jamie Oliver does quite a sprancy, dancy version with stem ginger and a slug or two of booze.
4 good-sized eating apples
50 g butter
50 g brown sugar
2 handfuls dried fruit (chopped apricots, raisins and cherries)
1 piece stem ginger in syrup, chopped
zest of 1 orange
2 tablespoons runny honey
284 ml double cream
1 tablespoon icing sugar
1 pinch mixed spice
1 splash brandy or whisky, optional
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Carefully remove the core from the apples with a sharp knife or apple corer. Be careful not to split them in half. Place them on a baking tray.
Heat the butter and sugar in a small saucepan with the dried fruit, stem ginger and orange zest. Stir until the butter has melted and all the grains of sugar have disappeared. Pour the caramel mixture into the middle of the apples, drizzling any extra mixture over the top along with the honey. Bake the apples in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, whip the double cream with the icing sugar and mixed spice until you have soft peaks. Fold in the brandy or whisky for a bit of a kick if you like.
Serve each apple with a big spoonful of whipped cream and any leftover caramel juices from the tray.
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