The leaves are starting to turn here although despite my previous post about how cool it had become, we are in fact having yet another Indian Summer with temperatures in the high teens, lots of sunshine and that ‘I really don’t know what to wear because it might get colder’ feeling. I did wear a pair of tights the other day and suffered because of them. New York City has some of the bluest skies I have ever seen, and they have been stunning this week. I have done a lot of walking about, because a friend was visiting and really the best way to get a feel for this city is on foot. The autumnal leaves with the blue skies with this ever present orange for Halloween is really very very lovely. On a walk around Chelsea Market, we saw the following carved pumpkins. I am posting them all because I think they’re absolutely wonderful.
Aren’t they fabulous? My particular favourites are the raven and Hitchcock.
New York State is famous for its apples and they are everywhere. All shades of reds, oranges and green, and cider is on sale throughout the city, hot or cold. Cider here is non-alcoholic – hard cider has alcohol – but whilst cider here obviously is just apple juice, it’s very thick and very lovely particularly with a sprinkling of cinnamon.
Grandma and Papa had apple trees in the garden in Northallerton which produced Cox’s Orange Pippins (still my favourite apple variety) and Bramley cooking apples. Papa spent some time as a student working on a fruit farm in the Scottish Borders, and he often said how there was nothing to compare with the taste of fruit fresh from the tree. He was right. It didn’t matter whether their apples were beautiful or not, the taste was exquisite. When Grandma and Papa were coming to see us in Hong Kong, I was asked what I really missed. My answer? Cox’s Orange Pippins and Wensleydale cheese. The apples we got in Hong Kong looked beautiful but were Washington Reds and they were waxed and tasted of nothing. Jet Fresh from the USA they may have been but en route the flavour was lost. Grandma made apple pies, crumbles, sauces, jellies and other goodies, much frozen. I do enjoy apple pie, but sadly the one I remember as the best apple pie ever was not Grandma’s but was eaten in Germany, at the top of the Lorelei. It had an almond pastry and blanched almonds mixed in with the apples – superb! The Yorkshire way of eating apple pie is with a slice of cheese (preferably Wensleydale) and my mouth is watering at the thought!
Anyway, today’s recipe is a cake I have made several times – it looks pretty and tastes scrumptious. It is Spiced Apple and Ginger Wine Loaf – I don’t think I’ve mentioned that I love ginger in all its forms, so this for me is a wonderful combination. I think the recipe originally came from Good Housekeeping magazine and I haven’t changed it at all.
Spiced Apple and Ginger Wine Loaf
- 400 g / 14 oz Bramley apples
- 85 ml / 3 fl oz ginger wine, plus 2 tbsp extra
- 150 g / 5 oz butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
- 250 g / 9 oz plain flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 nutmeg, grated
- pinch of salt
- 150 g / 5 oz soft light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 75 g / 3 oz icing sugar
- 1 Cox’s apple
Peel, core, quarter and slice the Bramleys and then put in a pan with 85 m / 3 fl oz of ginger wine. Cover and cook over a low heat for ten mins until the apples are very soft. Beat with a wooden spoon and leave to cool.
Pre-heat oven to 180 C / 350 F / Gas Mark 4. Butter a 1.5 l / 2.5 pint loaf tin and line the base with parchment.
Sift the flour, baking powder and spices. Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat the cool apple into the eggs with a pinch of salt if the butter was unsalted. Add half the apple mixture to the butter and sugar together with two tbsp of the sifted flour mixture. Beat. Add remainder of apple mixture and tbsp of the sifted flour mixture. Beat.
Fold in remainder of the flour mixture. Spread into prepared tin. Bake for 1-1.5 hours, until a skewer poked into the centre comes out clean. Cool for ten mins and then turn out, right side up, onto a baking rack.
Mix the icing sugar with the remaining ginger wine, making a thin paste. Spread over the top of the cake, letting it drip down the sides. Decorate with thin, blanched slices of the Cox’s apple.