Tuesday, 1 September 2009

The apple of my eye

As befits my name, I absolutely adore apples, and Bramleys are a particular favourite. Nothing else can beat a Bramley for cooking, and don't take any notice of those recipes which specify Golden Delicious, or vaguely suggest 'green apples' for cooking. They only betray their ignorance. So here are three recipes for you; why not go out and buy some Bramleys and help an English fruit farmer - they are a struggling, diminishing breed. And you can taste for yourself the wonder that is a Bramley apple.



The Bramley is a peculiarly English variety of apple, and the only possible choice for the most spectacular English apple pie. Ordinary shortcrust pastry is really not difficult to make - just rub room-temperature soft unsalted butter into plain flour plus a pinch of salt, until it has the texture of fine breadcrumbs. The ratio is 2 parts flour to 1 part butter. Then add cold water a little bit at a time to make a dough - not too wet, not too dry, and roll out flat to the shape of your dish (plus a little extra for trimming) on a lightly floured surface.





I don't bother with resting pastry in the fridge because I am usually in a hurry, and if you are new to pastry don't roll it out too thin because it makes the pastry difficult to handle. And if you are worried about quantities of water, at school I was taught that 4oz flour and 2oz butter needed 1tbs and 1 tsp of water. And twice those quantities make enough pastry for a family-sized pie dish about 25cm across, with a bit left over to make jam tarts (re-roll and cut out little circles with pastry cutters, put in a patty tin with a teaspoon of jam in each, and bake for 10-15 mins in a medium oven). Before you bake your pie, brush the pastry with milk and sprinkle with caster sugar. Bake in a medium oven for 20-30 mins until the pastry is golden, and the apple is just bubbling at the edge.




The nicest pies have a based of lightly stewed Bramley apples. And this is what I was doing yesterday - trying to fill my freezer with stewed Bramley apple to last through until next summer - for my greedy, Bramley-adoring children I should really freeze fifty bags of stewed apple, but at this time of year I can never keep up, and we always run out sometime in the spring! To freeze Bramleys, peel, quarter, remove the core and cut the quarters into quarters (or sixths if it is a very big apple). As you chop them put them straight into a lidded saucepan (to minimize oxidation which turns them brown, but makes no difference to the taste). When the saucepan is nearly full, add a slosh of water to prevent the apples from sticking, and golden granulated sugar to taste. I have a sweet tooth, so I put in a lot - at least a cupful. Stew very gently for quarter of an hour or so, until the biggest pieces beginning to soften. The apple will cook more in a pie or crumble, so you don't have to cook it down to a pulp: this is what makes Bramleys special - they will keep their shape when cooked. Cool and put into bags or tubs to freeze.




Apple crumble is even easier than apple pie - again the ratio is 2 parts flour (wholemeal is nicest) to 1 parts soft unsalted butter. Rub the butter into the flour, add 1 parts light muscovado or demerara sugar, mix together and spread over stewed Bramley apples. Bake for about half an hour in a medium oven until the apple is bubbling slightly at the edges, but before the top gets burnt! Once you are braver about not weighing the ingredients, which I never do now for crumble, you can add in porridge oats and/or medium oatmeal to the flour. Oatmeal for some reason needs much less butter than flour, so if you want to cut down the fat content, just measure enough oatmeal to cover the dish to the thickness required, and rub in butter a little at a time until you have a crumbly texture. You could cut down the sugar, too (if you can bear to, which I can't!).

Instead of a good old English pudding, the last recipe is for Bramley apple muffins, American-style, I suppose. These are most delicious warm, and can be breakfast, pudding or tea, or anything in between.





You need 2 large Bramley apples, 6oz/170g self-raising wholemeal flour, 4oz/110g fine oatmeal, 2 tsp baking powder, 3oz/75g golden granulated sugar, 3oz/75g melted unsalted butter, 2 eggs (beaten), 7floz/200ml milk. Mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Peel, core and chop the apples and mix into the dry ingredients. Mix together the wet ingredients (milk, beaten eggs and melted butter) in a small bowl. Tip the wet into the dry ingredients and mix roughly together. Spoon into 12 muffin cases in a muffin pan. Bake for 15-20 mins at 200C.





If you want these for breakfast, and I promise you that if you do bake apple muffins for breakfast, then your domestic ratings will zoom sky-high, mix together the dry ingredients in a bowl before you go to bed, cover and leave ready for morning; also put the cases in the muffin pan. Measure out the milk into a jug in the fridge. Leave the eggs out ready next to the small bowl, and the butter measured out into a pan for melting. Also leave the apples out with a knife and chopping board ready. When you get up, before you do anything, finish off the preparation (it'll only take 10 mins) and put the muffins in the oven. Go and have a shower while the muffins are baking. And hey presto - muffins for breakfast with very little effort, but maximum effect!

A few thank yous are due today - thank you to Jennyflower for organizing a lovely bloggy picnic. It was great to meet Sequin Girlie and see her beautiful work with textiles and camera, and also to watch the Nifty Knitter creating one of her wonderful meerkats before our very eyes. Nifty indeed!

Thank you also to Suzie at Itch2stitch for her sweet fairy award - one of her own creations.




Now go and get baking! And tell me how you get on.

31 comments:

Cottage Garden said...

I'm definitely going to try your recipe for English Apple Muffins! I agree you can't beat Bramleys for cooking. Delicious in pies and crumbles.
Jeanne
x

Elizabethd said...

I wish I could...but we dont have Bramleys in France oddly enough. The nearest I can get is a Granny smith. We even planted a tree , but it didnt like France and died, sadly.

Tabiboo said...

All that appley goodness - delicious and I couldn't agree more 'Buy English' they are the best!!

Nina x

Rubys mamma x said...

Lovely recipes Pamona. thanks! I always used to eat the leftover bowl of applesauce from when my granny did pork for our sunday roast-that was my pudding-noone else wanted it so i took full advantage! So if it were me id be stewing the apples just to eat hot bowlsful in front of the fire in the winter...the farm tree is heavy with fruit-id better dash over there tomorrow and do just that! K xxxxx

Isobel said...

Hi Pomona,
What wonderful recipes! I love the muffin one. They look absolutely yummy.
x

Michela said...

As ElizabethD in France, we do not have that apple breed in Italy.
Thank you for sharing your special recipes, I think I could have a go with another variety of apple!

Floss said...

Oh, misery; as elizabethd has already told you, we can neither buy nor grow Bramleys in France! Granny Smiths make a vaguely acceptable alternative, and my friend's windfalls of some kind of non-keeping apple also turned out well last year.

Thanks for all your appreciative comments - I'm glad you've enjoyed my Brittany pictures!

Itch2stitch.com said...

Oooh apples, yum , yum and more yum! thanks for your thanks too! got to go and pick more apples! Suzie. XXx :)

The Garden Bell said...

Yummie. Can't wait to try all of these. For sure the muffins and crisp. Probably going to switch to Door County HoneyCrisps or maybe Jazz apples.

Oh, no my mouth is watering already. Lovely pictures

beck said...

We don't have Bramley's here in Australia either, well not that I know of anyway. We do have Granny Smith's though so maybe they would work. Thanks for the recipe idea's, today we are making lamingtons! Yum!! xo

Chrissie said...

what a great song of praise to the bramley! the only thing which can improve an apple crumble is some blackberries, which we picked at the weekend to put in ours!

Pipany said...

It's been such a good year for apples so far hasn't it? Loved this post Pomona and will try out your ideas x

sarah-jane down the lane said...

Gosh what lovely Bramleys and all that baking I can smell from here!

I am glad you went to the picnic, we were away, but I would love to come another time ;D.

I will get baking just as soon as I get some work done! Naughty S-J DTL, x

Katie said...

Hello! Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and leaving such a lovely comment. Your thesis sounds really interesting. All your words about apples and baking are making me hungry! Love your blog. Katie x

quiltcat said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog! i'll definitely enter your kitty in the competition for the cat mat (or is it someone else's kitty? i only see pupdogs as family members on the side of your blog). I love everything apples...i don't think i've seen Bramleys here in the US but we do get some lovely crisp green apples called Rambo that are perfect for early season pies.

niftyknits said...

I'm a big fan of bramley apple crumble, like you I add porridge oats which somehow make it seem healthier! Great to meet you on Sunday. Hoodeners Meerkat (which I was knitting on the picnic) can be seen here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/niftyknits/3880633127/

MelMel said...

Thank you for your kind comment....
My blog is somwhere nice to retreat too, when life is tricky...

I love this time of year, apples on the trees and crisp mornings!xx

silverpebble said...

What a delicious post Pomona - it's made me hungry and tomorrow I'm off to the shops to buy bramleys I think!

andamento said...

Sorry, I'm not a bramley fan - I like other apples but just not those!

We've been having rather a lot of stawberry crumble here recently, it's rather tasty. Plum crumble is another favourite. Often I just chuck in whatever fruit is lying around (within reason - I've yet to try a banana crumble, sounds yucky!), can't really go wrong (so long as you avoid the bananas!)

Florence and Mary said...

My mum went apple picking recently and they're all over the house with her making apple themed dishes!

Victoria xx

Felicity said...

i've been thinking about baking with apples this weekend, i made an apple and pear crumble last week end but wanted something a bit different this time, thanks for the inspiration! fliss xx

Melanie said...

Hi Pomona, I have added your blog to my blog roll so I can keep in touch. Thank you for your lovely comment. xxx

susan said...

Hi Pomona,
Thanks for visiting my blog ,I find yours as interesting, I have 3 brambly trees in the orchard and have taken a note to revisit your wonderful sounding recipes how generous of you to share them with us.I need to investigate your B&B link, looks inviting and not to far from me.
Susan

Karen L R said...

I am a Granny Smith fan from way back. And here in New England we have a very short seasoned McCoun apple for snack-eating. It's a little early for apples yet...I am in the midst of peaches right now. With some late season blueberries. Ooooohhhh, fleeting and exquisite! Enjoy the day, Pomona!

Lola Nova said...

I just came over from A bun can dance. Ooh what lovely treats! We are getting quite close to apple season here in Oregon. We have a lovely farmers market that does a giant apple tasting every year. I wonder if anyone grows Bramleys. I particularly like Gravensteins but they are hard to come by these days.
I will have to try those muffins.

Wonderful blog!

Suzy's Vintage Attic said...

What lovely recipes, thank you. I really like Apple crumble with a scoop of clotted cream ice cream and Tarte Tatin. They are my 2 favourite apple based recipes. I look forward to trying out your recipe as we have more apples than we know what to do with at the moment!
Isabelle x

Greedy Nan said...

Slow as ever, have only read the bit about pastry so far. We obviously never went to the same school. We were told desertspoons of water and that's always been ok for me although with the brown flour you might need to use more. Also, on brown flour, it's much easier to do a 'patchwork' jobby on it because it looks even more rustic! I'll be back later ...

mummybear said...

Those muffins look yummy

marigold jam said...

I can almost taste the sharp tanginess of the apples while I read you blog! One of the things I reaqlly missed when we lived in France was a good Bramley apple - Granny Smith's had to do but there is really no comparison! I have another topping for you to try with your apples - mix some melted butter with some fresh breadcrumbs (a good way to use up those bits and bobs in the bottom of the bread bin) and add some demerara sugar. Sprinkle over the top of the apples and bake at 400 till golden and crisp. Delicious with cream or custard.

Jane

Greedy Nan said...

Only me again. Might try the muffin recipe - you make it sound so easy [and organised]. Won't be doing it just this minute though because I've done rock cakes. Forgot to put in the sugar but it doesn't seem to make them taste any the less good [not that I had one of course - they're all for the lovely man].

Amy said...

Now I HAVE to go apple picking asap!

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