The apple is the king of fruits and plays an important part in our culture. Turning it into craft cider is a venerable tradition, complete with a whole slew of rituals, including wassailing. Virtually every farm had an orchard and labourers of yore were often paid in cider. Crafty Nectar are offering my readers the chance to win a discovery box of six craft ciders. No need to scythe a meadow first. Read on to find out more.
I’m not quite sure why mulled wine has become such a classic British drink at Christmas. Apple cider is a more traditional beverage after all. I’m as partial to a glass or two of mulled wine as anyone else, but given the choice I’d go for mulled cider every time. It has a lighter, fruitier and more refreshing taste. You don’t need to add as much sugar either. Mulled apple juice can be served alongside or even instead of, allowing drinkers and non-drinkers alike to join in the festive cheer.
This time last week, I was enjoying wonderful views of Falmouth harbour from my bedroom window. The skies were blue, I was with good friends and the kitchen table sported an almond apple cider cake.
The weekend before last, I spent 3 1/2 hours stirring apple puree to make apple butter – a labour of love I’m not sure I will repeat, although the result was rather a good one. Now I have a few more jars sitting in my kitchen with nowhere to go – my store cupboard is already overly full. I’ve given one away and we’ve been eating apple butter on toast, but how about using some in a cake? It was Wendy from the Omnivorous Bear who got me in to the whole apple butter thing in the first place and I had a vague recollection that she had made a cake with hers. Indeed she had and a very nice cake it sounded. One of the points of using apple butter in a cake is that you can substitute it for fat – that’s the theory anyway. Wendy had reduced the oil in her recipe rather than eliminating it all together, which sounded very sensible to me. So without looking further I adapted her recipe in a number of ways, but mostly to include chocolate and flavouring it with orange rather than vanilla as follows:
- Peeled, cored and chopped 2 large cooking apples (unnamed Cornish variety) mixed in 1 tbsp lemon juice to stop the apple going brown.
- Beat 200g castor sugar, 60ml rapeseed oil and 2 duck eggs together until thick and creamy.
- Beat in 2 large tbsp of apple butter followed by 200ml Greek yogurt.
- Sieved in 300g flour (150g wholemeal spelt, 120g white spelt, 30g quinoa flour), 1.5 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp bicarb of soda, a pinch of salt and a dsp of dried powdered orange zest (could use grated zest of 1 orange).
- Mixed in 50ml cider
- Stirred in 100g finely chopped orange milk chocolate (Divine) and the apples.
- Spooned into a 23cm round cake thingie.
- Scattered 1 tbsp demerara sugar over the top.
- Baked for 40 mins at 180C.
The cake rose beautifully. It was light, moist, not too sweet and had a lovely crunchy top. It tasted really good with the apples predominating as you might expect with this much apple, but the orange flavour kicked in soon after. The chocolate chunks were oases of sweetness in the surrounding fruitiness. One week on it tasted just as good. It went very nicely with clotted cream – but what doesn’t?
Having adapted one apple and cider cake last week, I was keen to make the most of the apple glut and have a go at another this week. This time I thought I’d adapt my own version of apple and cider cake – substituting chocolate & cinnamon for the walnuts, mixed spice and orange zest.
- Melted 4oz butter with 100g 70% dark chocolate and 1 tbsp honey.
- Sifted together 6oz flour (5oz wholemeal spelt & 1oz buckwheat), 1 tsp baking powder and 1 tsp cinnamon.
- Stirred in 4oz demerara sugar.
- Peeled, cored and chopped 1 large cooking apple (unnamed Cornish variety) into smallish pieces and stirred this into the flour.
- Made a well in the centre and poured in chocolate mixture.
- Mixed this in together with 2 duck eggs.
- Poured in 2 fl oz cider and mixed well.
- Poured this into a 20cm silicone cake thingy and baked at 180C (gas 4) for 40 mins ( which was a few minutes too long as the top got a little bit burnt).
With the Somerset Cider Apple Cake very much in mind from last week (see previous post), I did some cider shopping this morning! Nothing lacking this time, I set to and started baking. I adapted the recipe to include chocolate – in fact I substituted chocolate for the sultanas as I thought having both might be rather overwhelming.
- Creamed 6oz unsalted butter with 8oz light brown cane sugar until light and fluffy.
- Beat in 2 duck eggs – one by one.
- Sieved 10oz flour (5oz wholemeal spelt & 5oz white spelt), 1.5 tsp baking powder and 1 tsp mixed spice and mixed this in alternately with 1/4 pint cider.
- Peeled, cored and chopped 2 cooking apples (3/4 lb of Cornish unnamed variety) into smallish pieces.
- Finally mixed these in together with 100g of good quality milk chocolate (34% green & black’s) chopped into chunks.
- Spooned this into a 22cm cake thingie and baked at 180C for 35 mins.