An apple a day


VERSATILE Apples can be used to flavour all sorts of recipes.

The Cabots

‘Tis the season for some lovely local produce from nature. Produce picked here and there can become the makings of a crumble, which we made with young Louis, trying to avoid flour and brown sugar going everywhere as we stand over the bowl and rub the butter around the flour and sugar mix, attempting to create a fine, crumbly mix.
Just a single apple quartered, peeled with a knife with centre removed, can stew for as little as five minutes with a touch of sugar, lid on, to accompany and lift the morning porridge. If ever a reminder was needed of seasonal produce and freshness of local produce, one can always come across local apples.
Varying on sweetness and acidity my approach is to use what’s in front of you, hope for the best, and normally it turns out ok! You always have sugar to play with. Blackberry and frozen blackberries from a previous month’s picking makes a riotous colour combination in a pie, sometimes pre-cooking the cut apple with butter adds an alluring sheen. The flavour of blackberry and apple can take you back.
If you are making a jelly from apples, the silver lining is there is no peeling or quartering: just quarter the apples, with skin, centre and pips all there, boil to simmer with water and some lemon skins or zest, until a pulp. Place this in a hanging pillow case and collect the juice. Allow 450g for each 600ml of liquid, squeeze some lemon juice over and bring to a boil, add sugar that you have warmed. And stir till dissolved. Boil hard for another 5 mins or so, skim, test, and pot out when you are satisfied. One can add clover, mint, sage etc at this stage for extra flavouring.

Something baked and simple
If you like a simple ‘warmer-upper’, try baking some apples. Sometimes simple is most impressive. You’ll need some fairly large eating apples, some butter, brown sugar, orange zest and juice, dried fruit, ground ginger, maybe allspice, and some cream fraiche to serve. Heat the butter in pan, add dried fruit, spices, orange juice, some sugar, remove and set aside. Core all your apples, place on a baking tray and fill the cavities with fruit and spice mix. Bake in a pre-heated oven of 220 celsius for about twenty minutes until all the apple is soft. Serve with spoonful’s of the roasting juices and crème fraiche.

Lovely Irish Apple Cake
As an alternative to Apple Pies that peek at you from everywhere, being served a homemade apple cake in a neighbour’s or friend’s house can take you back the ages. Served with pouring cream or custard, the crumble top caps a warm scent of apples and cinnamon. Once cooked one can even partake through the entire day, from breakfast, brunch, to tea!

What you need

  • 3 x Apples (Granny Smith), peeled and thinly sliced
  • 60g x soft butter
  • 60g x sugar
  • 120g plain flour
  • 2 x free range eggs
  • A dash of milk or cream
  • 1 tsp baking powder and cinnamon each
  • A good pinch salt
  • Icing sugar for dusting.

What you do
Streusel mix for topping: blend together, by machine or hand, 40g butter with 60g sugar, 90g plain flour, 30g rolled oats into a crumble topping. People say this should be chilled prior to cooking; do as you please.

What you do next
In a bowl cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in eggs, one at a time. Separately whisk the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Fold this dry mixture into the creamed butter and sugar, adding dash of milk or cream at this stage. Spoon this batter into a 9 inch springform pan, top with layer of apple slices, and add streusel mix on top and cook in 185 celsius oven for about 50-60 minutes, until browned on top, and sharp knife comes out of cooked cake with nothing sticky on it. Remove and let cool. Dust with icing sugar, serve with custard or pouring cream. Tip top tea or coffee required too!

— Redmond

The Cabot family live and work in Lanmore, outside Westport. Fresh, seasonal foods are their passion, from country markets to growing, making and selling. They love cooking and eating at the kitchen table, while Redmond and Sandra are kept on their toes with children Penny and Louis. Here they share their favourite recipes.