Monday, 24 September 2012
Hooray for autumn and all those lovely apples that are now being offered at road stands and in the produce departments of the local shops. Not French Apples either, but beautiful, sweet delicious fresh British Apples. Perfect for eating out of hand, cooking into sauces and chutnies . . . and for baking into lovely pies, tarts, muffins and cakes. Cakes like this beautiful one I am showcasing here today.
This is a deliciously different cake, baked from an old traditional recipe which is Irish in origin. What makes it different you ask??? Well . . . this is a cake that is a cross between a cake and a scone . . .
The method used to make the cake batter is very similar to the same method you would use when making traditional scones . . . rubbing the butter into the flour with your fingertips until crumbly. Stirring in the wet ingredients with a round bladed knife to make a soft dough . . . but that is where the similarity ends. It bakes up into a deliciously moist cake . . . not a sturdy scone.
I guess you could say that is is also similar to a pie, because you have both a top and a bottom crust, with a delicious apple filling sandwiched in the middle . . . the top and bottom crusts melting together at the edges, and then baking in and around the apples, to form one of the tastiest cakes ever!!
At one time this cake would have been placed into an iron pot oven, with burning coals topping the pot . . . the pot situated close to the open fire on a rustic Irish cottage hearth . . .
Oh what a romantic image that inspires . . . I can almost see it now . . . the flames from the open fire licking up and down the walls . . . the light flickering on the dark cottage walls . . . the smell of smoke mingled with that beautiful smell of baking cakes . . . apples . . . and spice . . .
Alas, we have no open hearth . . . simply an electric oven and a deep flan tin but nevermind . . . it still tastes pretty darn good!!!
Served warm with lashings of warm custard . . . this was the perfect rainy day teatime treat.
*Irish Apple Cake*
Serves 6 to 8
A delicous version of an apple cake, baked with tasty apple slices sandwiched in the centre. Serve warm with or without custard.
225g self raising flour (generous 2 cups)
(You may need extra
so don't put the flour away just yet)
115g butter (1/2 cup)
1 large free range egg, lightly beaten
115g caster sugar (9 1/2 TBS)
3 fluid ounces milk
2 cooking apples, peeled and sliced
1/2 tsp cinnamon
57g soft light brown sugar (4 1/2 TBS)
a little beaten egg
1 level TBS of caster sugar
Pre-heat the oven to 180*C/350*F. Butter a deep flan tin, with a loose bottom, roughly 9 inches in diameter. set aside.
Place the flour and butter into a large bowl. Rub the butter in with your fingertips to form a breadcrumb texture. Stir in the sugar. Add the beaten egg and milk and mix together with a round bladed knife. If the dough seems a bit too sticky add a bit more flour. You want a soft dough, but not a sticky one. Turn out onto a floured board and cut the dough in half. Place half of the dough into the flan tin, pressing it in with floured fingers to evenly cover the bottom of the dish. Spread the apple slices evenly over the base, leaving a bit of an edge all the way around. Sprinkle with the soft light brown sugar and the cinnamon. Carefully roll out the remaining half of the dough into a circle roughly the same size as the dish. Place on top of the apples, pressing the edges together with the bottom crust. Cut several slits in the top of the cake for ventilation.
Brush with a little beaten egg and sprinkle the TBS of caster sugar evenly over top. Bake for 35 minutes, until well risen and golden brown.
Place the tin on top of a jar and push the sides of the pan down and remove. Place the cake on a wire rack to cool to warm before cutting into wedges to serve.
If there's anything else that goes very well on a rainy day with a cake such as this, it is a nice hot cup of herbal tea. Today we were supping on beautiful cups of Fruit Medley Tea which was sent to us from Adagio Teas. A delicious herbal blend of rose hips, hibiscus, apple pieces, natural strawberry flavour and strawberries, orange peel and natural wild cherry . . . soooo good, almost addictive and soooo good for you! A wonderfully aromatic and flavourful blend which contains nothing artificial, no sweeteners, and totally caffeine free.
Adagio Teas recently sent me a lovely assortment of their herbal tea range . . . all lovely. We've really been enjoying these lovely blends . . .
Lemon Grass . . . with a delicate Meyer lemon taste, as well as a slight hint of sweet ginger, and very aromatic floral fragrance. Smooth and fragrant. It felt very soft in the mouth, not astringent at all with a lovely clean finish. Very Thai . . . an uplifting, yet naturally caffeine free tea.
Blood Orange . . . another favourite with a deep vibrant colour and sweet tangy flavour . . . and yet without sugar. It's a combination of orange peels, hibiscus flowers, rose hips and natural orange flavour. Very, very rich and tangy . . . just lovely. (I used to love Constant Comment tea when I drank black teas . . . and this really reminded me of that.)
Rooibos Vanilla . . . this lovely rooibos tea combines that beautiful and rich sugary scent of vanilla, combined with the fruity juiciness from the rooibos, altogether almost dessert-like . . . but without the calories. A cookie you can drink, and not gain an ounce on your hips.
White Blueberry . . . you know how much I love Blueberries . . . a premium white tea, combined with the taste of juicy blueberries. The Canuck in me loved this both warm as a hot drink . . . but also cold as an iced tea. It had a clean refreshing taste . . . most delectable.
You would think that all those lovely herbal blends would be enough . . . but no, they also sent me a beautiful little gift set of "Love Petals." This is a sweetly presented set of three delicious sounding teas in gorgeously romantic looking rose printed tins . . . Ripe for Romance (a mix of black tea, cocoa nibs, raspberry leaves, raspberry pieces, and natural chocolate and raspberry flavours. Sounds nummy.) Sweet Nothings (a mix of white tea, sunflower petals, lavender buds, apricot bits, and natural peach flavour) Hugs and Kisses (A mix or rooibos, rose petals, cornflowers, and natural vanilla, almond, cream and caramel flavours.) I have not tried these yet, but they do sound delicious and those tins are just beautiful. I think these would be a lovely gift for someone special.
Wow, nice . . . I can hear you thinking that. But that is not all . . .
They also sent me this really neat little tea steeper! The ingenuiTEA is a really nice looking piece of kit which promises to be the most convenient tea pot you will ever find anywhere.
From their page: The most convenient teapot you will find anywhere - we guarantee it. When tea is ready, simply place it atop your cup. This will cause a valve at the bottom to release: crystal-clear tea flows down, while the mesh filter retains all the leaves with one of the best infusers on the market. Super easy to clean and dishwasher safe - perfect for the office or the road. You will wonder how you got along without one.
Can it live up to it's promise??
Very simple, easy to read and great instructions on it's use clearly printed on the side
of the box.
Boiled water added to the tea.
Steep for the required time.
Placed over the cup, it empties itself into the cup. Just make sure your cup is large enough to take the amount of liquid in the teapot . . . or else it will over flow! (That happened to me the first time I used it! DUH!)
A beautiful, well steeped, delicious flavoured cup, of hot, warming, comforting tea.
What more could you want??
Many thanks to Stepas and Adagio Teas for affording me this lovely chance.
What can I say . . . I'm hooked. These herbal blends are quite, quite fabulous!