Apples Under My Bed
When I was seven years old, I was an avid reader. I have my gorgeous mum to thank for this, as she always read to my brothers and I when we were young. She showed me how blissful it is to lose yourself in tales of adventure, mystery, magic and mischief. As a result, I would spend many hours at night getting lost in far away worlds with fascinating characters.
Naturally, as I devoured page after page, and the clock ticked on, I became quite hungry. My snack of choice was apples - crisp, sweet local Red Hill apples that were delightfully small. The perfect size for little hungry hands.
I would stay up late, reading and munching on apples, one after the other having a glorious time. What was I to do with the copious amount of apple cores that remained after a night spent with Mary and Colin in the Secret Garden?...pop them under my bed of course!
Im not sure whether I thought that mum and dad would be upset that I went through so many apples, or whether I honestly thought that this was an appropriate way to deal with the remnants - out of sight, out of mind? Either way, mum stumbled across my secret stash one day whilst cleaning under the bed. A lesson on appropriate apple core disposal methods ensued.
My younger brother, Jackson, didn't follow in my footsteps - he likes to eat the entire apple, core and all. As for myself, I am pleased to say that I now dispose of my apple cores in the compost or bin. Come Autumn, I love to stock up on big bags of local apples at the Red Hill market.
As it is currently Winter, I am seasonally a bit off. Nevertheless, my first post must involve apples. Not only because I love to eat them, but to also explain my curious blog title.
I want to share with you a cake that my mum often bakes and that I adore. It reminds me of being at home in Red Hill, sitting by the fire reading, the smell of sweet apples and heavenly cinnamon wafting through the house. Incredibly delightful, warm and sweet, with a touch of spice - this is how I would describe both the cake and my mum. I hope you like the cake as much as I do.
Mum and I follow Carolynne Collier's Beechworth/Stanley Spicy Apple Cake recipe. However we make a few alterations based on personal taste preferences. Our version has more apple, more spice and no nuts. I do enjoy nuts in muffins and biscuits, however I do not often add them to cakes when the recipe calls for them. I find they can get in the way of the fruit flavour. Perhaps my tastes will change, and soon I will crave the textural presence and taste of nuts in my cakes. But for now, I opt to omit them. I add in more apple as I often find that when baking cakes such as this one (and banana bread too) I crave a stronger fruit flavour. The extra apple no doubt makes up for the lack of nuts in terms of bulking out the cake. Adding in some poached rhubarb works wonderfully, and you can play around with the dried fruit (i.e. raisins or cranberries).
Spicy Apple Cake
6 medium Granny Smith apples
125g melted butter
1 & 1/2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon spice (I use a French 4 spice blend containing allspice, nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon)
1 cup sugar (I often use half caster sugar, half brown sugar for a more caramel flavoured cake)
1 egg beaten
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup sultanas
1. Peel and dice the apples (apple skin contains lots of nutrients, so don't throw it away. It can be used to make jelly (apples contain pectin), and I would one day like to try something like this . What I usually do is put the peeled skin in a bowl and much on it as I work/read).
2. Put the diced apples into a bowl and sprinkle with the sugar. Stir to coat and leave for 2-3 minutes.
3. Melt the butter on the stove or in a microwave. Pour the melted butter over the apples and sugar, stir to coat. Add the beaten egg into the apple mixture.
4. Sift the dry ingredients together and add to the apple mixture, stirring until just mixed. Add the sultanas.
5. Pour the cake mixture into a greased circle baking dish. Make sure the flour part of the mixture is spread evenly amongst the apple chunks. Smooth the top with a spoon.
6. Bake at 180 degrees celsius for 50-60 minutes (mine cooked in 50 minutes, however I often check at the 45 minute mark, as my parent's oven is gloriously strong - I save all my special baking for their oven).
7. Cool for 10 mins before turning out.
I serve mine as is, however if having it for dessert, some vanilla ice-cream or cream would be a nice accompaniment. I find that this cake is even better the day after. Just be sure to store it in an airtight container or use plastic wrap.
This cake gives me a warm fuzzy feeling, making me want to put on some gumboots and prance around apple orchids. It is the perfect afternoon treat in the cooler months.
Thank you, mum, for introducing me to this cake, for our fun times reading together when I was a child, and for not getting mad when you found apples under my bed...