Category Archives: apples

Apple puree muffins

Apple puree muffins

These were inspired by a recipe sent by a friend. The original recipe came from the NY Times cookery app and is for baked Doughnuts. Just a few hours before receiving the email from the friend I had been reading a doughnut recipe and considered making them but the whole faff of deep frying puts me off. This recipe seemed like a gift.

The original recipe though requires cider and I don’t have any of that in the house. This got me thinking about an alternative. These muffins don’t really resemble the original recipe at all but they are good.

For the apple puree:
1 large Bramley apple, peeled cored and cut into chunks

For the muffins:
225g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
Half tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
half teaspoon nutmeg
140g butter, melted
140g light brown sugar
50g granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
120ml plain yoghurt

For the topping:
25g melted butter
40g demerara sugar

Method
Place the apple chunks in a pan with a splash of water and cook over a medium heat until it becomes a puree. Put to one side.

Place cases into a 12 hole muffin pan, or lightly grease the muffin pan. Preheat the oven to 180C, 350F, gas mark 4 or use the baking oven of the 4 one Aga.

Sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl, add the salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.

In a separate bowl whisk the sugars with the eggs until well mixed. Add the vanilla extract, vinegar and yoghurt and mix well. Sieve the flour mixture over the top. (I like to double sieve flour for muffins it makes them lighter). Fold in carefully until just mixed but still has a few floury lumps. This will make the muffins lighter.

Spoon half the mixture into the muffin cases. Drop a scant teaspoon of apple puree on top and then cover with remaining mixture.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 20-25 minutes until it feels springy to the touch. As soon as they come out of the oven brush with the melted butter and sprinkle with Demerara sugar. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Sliced apple puree muffin
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Blackberry and apple muffins

With all my talk of things that have not been good in the garden this year, (and then reeling off a list of the things that have done well and caused envy in several of you – sorry),  I can report that blackberries have done really well this year. We have several blackberry brambles in our hedge – which says a lot for my weeding skills.

It has been lovely to watch the girls crouching by the hedge feasting off the goodies. Although, this has occasioned me to stand over them a few times reminding them that they must only eat the berries that look like purple raspberries and not to eat any that are single purple berries (again my lack of weeding skills and the habit of deadly nightshade liking to grow in hedges). Am I coming across as paranoid? If I am, then it’s because I am.

I formed a bad habit of giving the girls something to eat when I meet them from school. This means a trip to the shop next to their school for a mint choc chip ice cream a couple of times a week, or a chocolate bar fetched out of my bag. But I do try to cook them something once a week. I was inspired by Michele’s recent post about bran muffins. The ones I cooked in the end are roughly based on my mini chocolate muffins  but are probably healthier. I wondered how they would be received by the girls, as they can be fussy little blighters. I am pleased to report that they really enjoyed them and ate several.

This recipe makes 12 mini muffins (fairy cake size) and would make 6 normal sized muffins.

60g wholemeal flour
60g plain flour
30g oatbran
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp ground cinnamon

100ml milk
1 egg
25g melted butter
50g muscovado sugar
1 eating apple, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
50g blackberries (frozen, if that is what you have)

2- 3 tsp of demerara sugar for the topping

Method

Measure the flours, oatbran, baking powder and cinnamon into a bowl and mix well.

Put the milk, egg, melted butter, sugar, apple and blackberries in a large bowl and mix these well. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and mix lightly. Do not overmix. Divide the mixture into 12 fairy cake cases. Sprinkle each one with demerara sugar.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180°c, gas mark 4 for 15 -20 minutes until golden and firm on top.

 

 

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Individual Apple Pies

I was picking up my youngest daughter from school (she started last week and is enjoying it so far, fingers firmly crossed that it stays this way) and there next to the door I fetch her from is a magnificent apple tree with lots lying on the floor.  I couldn’t resist.  I chose the best two I could find and came home and made these.

They don’t look like Mr Kiplings’ but that is part of their appeal.  They are very easy to make and require little dexterity – always a bonus.

200g plain (all purpose) flour
100g cold butter, diced
cold water to mix

about 3oog cooking apple, peeled, cored and sliced thinly (I used 2 medium sized apples)
demerara sugar (or other sugar would work just as well, I just like the crunch of demerara)

Method

Make the pastry by placing the flour and the butter in a food processor and pulsing until it resembles breadcrumbs.  Add enough cold water to mix (I find a small wine glass of water, so about 125ml, is normally about the right amount, but add gradually).  Pulse until the pastry just begins to come together.  If you don’t have a food processor then place the flour into a large bowl, add the butter and using the tips of your fingers rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the water and mix with a palette knife until it begins to come together.

Form the pastry into a ball and flatten slightly.  Wrap in clingfilm  and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

I used a muffin tin for my individual pies.  Roll out the pastry and then cut out circles measuring 11.5cm – this is the size of my espresso saucers and so I used these to cut round with a sharp knife. I managed to get nine circles out of my pastry.  Push the discs into the holes of the muffin tin, using your fingers to carefully push the pastry to the bottom and up the sides.  This leaves some pastry overlapping the top.  Fill the pastry with apple slices and sprinkle a teaspoon of sugar over each.  You could also sprinkle cinnamon if you wanted to. Then wrap the overlapping pastry over the top of the apple.

Sprinkle a little more sugar over the top and place in a preheated oven at 200°c, gas mark 6 or in the Roasting Oven of the Aga for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

This was a very satisfying way of using a couple of apples that would have rotted otherwise and the girls enjoyed them.

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Shropshire Fidget Pie

Shropshire Fidget Pie is, I have to admit, something I became aware of only a few years ago.  It seems it went out of fashion for some time.  The interest in eating local food has revived its fortunes and I finally got to taste a fidget pie a couple of months ago at our local National Trust property.  The National Trust cafes tend to serve superb local food and this one serves food that is harvested on site from the walled garden and the farm.  Fortunately for me one of the cooks at this property is also a family friend so when I saw her just before Christmas I grilled her for the recipe.  She told me what made up the filling.

Anyway,  as a true Salopian I thought it was about time I made a Fidget Pie.  (For those unaware, a Salopian is someone born in Shropshire.  The county was previously known as Salop, goodness knows why they felt the need to change the name).  Some of you might be aware that I am very proud to be a Salopian and a Midlander so to cook something that hails from the county makes me very pleased.

Our friend’s advice and a search around the internet has led to this version.  It is a combination of several recipes.  At the National Trust they make it in a pasty shape but it is also made like a pork pie in some recipes or as a topped pie as I have in this version.

It was a total success.  Mr OC was a bit dubious when he heard what was in a Fidget Pie, but he was certainly won over tonight. The combination of cider and apples really deliver a tasty punch.  This is a pie that comes highly recommended by me and Mr OC.

Serves 4

For the pastry:

8 oz plain white flour
4 oz cold butter
4 tbsp cold water

For the filling:

1 bramley apple, cored, peeled and sliced
2-3 potatoes, peeled and finely sliced
1 onion, peeled and finely sliced
250g (10oz) ham or gammon
1 tsp brown sugar
salt and pepper
1 tsp dried sage or 4-5 fresh leaves finely chopped
2 tsp cornflour
150 ml (¼ pint) double cream
300ml (½ pint) cider

Beaten egg for brushing over the top of the pie.

Method

Start by making the pastry.  Put the flour and cold butter into a food processor and whizz until it is the consistency of breadcrumbs.  Add the water (you may need more or less) and whizz until it forms a ball.  Put the pastry into a plastic food bag or wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

For the filling, boil the potatoes for 3 minutes and then add the onions to the water and boil for another 2- 3 minutes.  Drain well.

Using a dish that measures 23cm x 30cm layer the apples, potato, onion and ham into the dish, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle over the brown sugar and the sage.

In a  jug stir together the cornflour and the cream until combined and then mix in the cider.  Pour this over the filling.

Roll out the pastry to the size of the dish and then cover the dish, pressing down well around the sides. Make a hole in the top of the pie. I used my blackbird as a steam vent. Brush with the beaten egg.

Place in a preheated oven at 180°c, gas mark 4 or the baking oven of the Aga for about 1 hour until the pie is golden brown.

The fidget before pastry

My eldest helping with the pastry and egg wash

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Toffee Apples

They might not look perfect but they got the thumbs up from my two girls and the girl next door.

Toffee apples always remind me of Bonfire Night and as that night is nearly upon us I felt the need to make toffee apples.  Also, we recently took the girls to the annual Apple Day at The GreenWood Centre and there were toffee apples on sale, however by the time we had fought our way through the crowds there weren’t enough toffee apples left.  So I promised to make them some and last week I managed to find the time.

Actually, it takes surprisingly little time to make these, especially if you don’t mind how haphazard they look when they are finished.

PLEASE BE VERY CAREFUL , BOILING SUGAR IS EXTREMELY HOT.  It is best to do this in a quiet kitchen unaided by small children.

3 eating apples
3 lolly sticks
100g (4oz) granulated sugar
50ml (2 fl oz) water
15g (½ oz) butter
1 tbsp golden syrup

Silicone sheet or non-stick baking parchment, a pan of boiling water

Pour the sugar and water into a heavy-based pan and heat over a gentle heat until the sugar is dissolved.  Add the butter and syrup and bring to a fast boil.  Use a sugar thermometer and bring the mixture to the hard crack stage (150°c).  If you don’t have a sugar thermometer then boil for about ten minutes until a deep golden colour and drop a small amount into a cold glass of water.  It should form a hard ball straight away.  If it clouds the water at all it isn’t ready. Boil for a few more minutes and test again.

Whilst the toffee  is boiling, bring a pan of water to the boil and drop the apples in for a few seconds.  This will remove any waxy coating and  help the toffee stick to the apples.  Remove from the water and dry well.  Stick the lolly sticks into the apples.

When the toffee is ready, take it off the heat and working quickly dip each apple into the mixture until well coated and place on the silicone sheet to harden and cool. If the mixture starts to harden before you are finished then place back on the heat for a minute or so.

To clean the pan, fill it with water and place back on the heat until it cleans itself.

DO NOT BE TEMPTED TO LICK THE SPOON.

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Apple pie in the Aga

A lady called Una contacted me to ask how to cook an apple pie in the Aga as she could not find a recipe online. Well I do love apple pie, it definitely ranks up there as yet one more of my favourites ( well I like my food, so there are a lot of favourites).  So as soon as I was given some apples by a friend I made this and have now finally got around to blogging about it so hopefully rectifying Una’s dilemma.

Apple pies, in my opinion, need a shortcrust pastry and a good cooking apple – preferably a Bramley.  Now I like my apple pie to be on the tart side of things so I am more sparing with the sugar, if you prefer yours a little sweeter then add another 25g (1 oz) of sugar.  You can make shortcrust with all butter, but I do like it with half butter/ half shortening or lard.  Make sure both are straight from the fridge and that your hands are cool, as warm pastry is not a good thing.

50g (2oz) vegetable shortening or lard
50g (2oz) butter
225g (8oz) plain flour
203 tbsp of cold water

2-3 cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
50-75g (2-3oz) granulated sugar

Method

If you are using a food processor then tip the flour into the bowl of the processor, add the diced butter and shortening/lard and pulse for a few seconds until the fat is incorporated into the flour and the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Add 2 tbsp of water and pulse again (you may need a little extra water or not quite that much) until the mixture starts to come together.  Try not to over process, you need to stop as soon as it starts to come together. Remove the blade and form the mixture into two flattened discs. Wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.

If you aren’t using a food processor then make sure your hands are cool by running cold water over them.  Then place the flour and the diced fat into a bowl and using the tips of your fingers rub the fat into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Add the water and then mix using a pallet knife at first and then your hands until it is a smooth dough.  Try to handle it as little as possible.  Divide into two flattened discs and cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

You will need a pie dish or plate. Mine is 20cm in diameter and 3cm deep.

Remove the pastry from the clingfilm and lightly flour the worktop and your rolling-pin. Roll the first disc of pastry until it is big enough to cover the bottom and the sides of the dish. Press it carefully into the dish.  Place your chopped apples into the dish and sprinkle with the sugar.  Roll the second disc until it is large enough to cover the dish. Brush a little milk around the edges of the pastry and place the lid of pastry on top and crimp around the edge to form a seal with two fingers.  Cut off any excess pastry. You can brush the top with milk too.

Place the pie on the floor of the roasting oven of the Aga for about 20-25 minutes until the pastry is golden. In a conventional cooker, place in a preheated oven at 220°c for about the same amount of time. Allow to cool slightly before enjoying warm with lashings of cold double cream or custard. My mouth is watering at the very thought.

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Scones by Mangocheeks

Mangocheeks has a wonderful blog where she talks about what she has cooked, where she has travelled and what she is up to in her garden.  It is a very inspirational read with wonderful photos.  Well, this morning I took a quick look and found her latest post was about Apple and Blackberry scones and they looked absolutely delicious.

At the weekend I saved a couple of wasp eaten apples from the tree and was wondering what I could do with them.  I knew that I had to make these scones the minute I saw them.  I didn’t have any blackberries as there has been a bull in the field where I normally gather my blackberries so I substituted frozen blackcurrants.  The scones were deliciously light and very tasty.  I spread mine with butter and damson jam and invited my parents for a spontaneous lunch time treat.  The weather is having its last kick of the summer and so we had a very enjoyable time eating these in the garden with a cup of tea.  Thank you Mangocheeks.  If you would like the recipe pop over to visit Mangocheeks’ wonderful blog.

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Parsnip, apple and chestnut soup

I was inspired to try my hand at this soup by a visit to a local café yesterday.  I was reading the Christmas menu that I had unfortunately missed, but on it was this soup and I knew I had to give it a go.  We have some parsnips left in the garden and my husband has complained that I haven’t been using them enough so I hacked my way through the frosty soil to get at them.

I have no idea whether it tastes like the soup served at the local café but this is delicious and a very comforting dish and you can taste all three of the main elements quite distinctly, although I may use a little less apple next time I make it as my version was a little too apple-y.  I have adjusted the recipe below accordingly so I hope yours won’t be.

1 large parsnip (about 300g), peeled and chopped into chunks
1 small Bramley apple (or half a large apple), peeled, cored and chopped into chunks
1 onion, diced
1 small potato, peeled and cut into chunks
100g roasted chestnuts, plus a few extra for slicing to serve on top of the soup (I use the vacuum packed variety for ease)
20g butter and a drop of olive oil
570 ml (1 pint) chicken or vegetable stock
1 tbsp cumin seed
salt & pepper to taste

Method
Melt the butter with the drop of olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat and add the onion and cook for a few minutes, being careful not to allow the onion to brown.  Add the parsnip, potato and apple and cook for a few minutes more.  Add the cumin seeds and stir to combine and continue to cook for a few minutes. Season with a little salt. Add the chestnuts and the stock and bring to a simmer and cover the pan with a lid or foil.  Cook over a gentle heat for 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender.  If you are using an Aga, place the pan in the simmering oven for this amount of time. Check the seasoning and adjust to taste with salt and pepper.

Blend the soup either with a hand blender or in a blender or processor until smooth.  Serve in warmed bowls, sprinkled with thinly sliced roasted chestnuts.

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Baked apples

This is one of my favourite puddings.  We used to have it when we were kids on a regular basis as we had some lovely Bramley apple trees in the garden of the house I grew up in.  Fluffy apple, syrupy apple juices, plump raisins and lashings of cream make a very satisfying end to a meal.  I haven’t given quantities as it will depend on how many people you are feeding, you will need one apple for each person and for each apple you will need about a tablespoon of syrup, a tablespoon of dried fruit and a little bit of butter.

Bramley apples, cored and the skin split around the middle to prevent apple explosions
Raisins or sultanas or mixed dried fruit ( I used a mixture of chopped glace cherries to the apples in the photo)
Golden syrup
Butter
Splash of water

Method

Place the apples into a baking dish that is big enough to take all of the apples. Fill the centre of the apples with dried fruit.  Spoon over golden syrup (about a tablespoon for each apple) and place a small lump of butter onto each apple. Add a splash of water to the dish, this will help prevent the syrup burning.

Cook in a preheated oven at 180°c (gas mark 4, 350°c) for 20-25 minutes until the apples are fluffy.

Ready for the oven

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