On Apple Tea Cake, art making and embodiment

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I made this pretty cake a week or so ago for the lovely couple who couriered my electric scales from Sydney to Vancouver. It is an old recipe from a church community cookbook that my mum has had in our family collection since I was tiny. Simple but pretty with the cinnamon crusted apple slice topping, it has graced many an Election Day school cake stall. I doubled it – the original recipe fits one of those tiny 50s style cake tins you may recall from older Home Economics classrooms – and added the alternative apple stripe pattern. I also swapped milk for milk powder – otherwise it remains true to the version Margaret Lack shared with the St Mattew’s Anglican church community in my childhood. I was glad mum could find the recipe for me and imagine that it will be making a few more appearances in the next little while.

One of my classes at the moment is called ‘Christian Imagination’ – it is the first of the Arts courses at Regent. We have been reflecting on the Ash Wednesday call to ‘Remember that you are dust’ – considering the nature of our dusty-‘flesh’-clothed humanity. We are makers of art, collectors of ideas, broadcasters of beauty, fixers and joiners of ‘stuff’ – because first and foremost we ourselves are ‘stuff’. Embodied, we ‘do life’ in this world, interacting and engaging with other bodies, other things, other stuff. Food is just one aspect of our everyday-walking-around-lives, and this recipe is just one example of gratuitous* human creation … but I hope that you’ll try it and that it will bring you (and those you share it with!) nourishment and delight in all senses of the words! .

Ingredients:
2 cups plain or all-purpose flour (300g)
4 tsp baking powder
1 cup castor or fine granulated sugar (240g)
4 tablespoons of milk (80ml)
50g butter
2/3 cup water (170ml)
2 eggs
1 green apple (granny smith)
1 red apple (try and choose a variety similar in size to the green)

For Finishing:
20g butter
1 1/2 tbs castor or fine granulated sugar
1 1/2 tbs cinnamon

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 180oC (350F).
2. Combine the flour, baking powder and sugar.
3. Melt the butter, and once cooled slightly, combine with milk, water and egg. Whisk to combine.
4. Gently mix the wet ingredients though the dry.
5. Grease (and line if that is your preference) a 23cm (9 inch) round cake tin. Pour the batter in.
6. Slice the apple very thinly (I quartered mine then sliced the quarters so they were still fine wedges but each slice was of a similar width). Arrange the slices on top of the cake alternating red and green slices.
7. Bake for 50-60 minutes or till golden and ‘done’ when tested.
8. Melt extra butter and paint over the surface of the cooked cake while it is still warm.
9. Combine the cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle over the cake.

*things that are non-necessary, we do them ‘just because’

 

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Baking with Apples

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These second two pictures are of an apple crumble recipe I made the same day … they were just so pretty I decided to share them too!

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I’ve recently discovered baked apples. It has taken a very long time for me to come to enjoying cooked fruit but I think that between apple crumble and these baked apples I may have finally been won over.  Searching for a healthy dessert to make one night I came across a simple recipe that I’ve adapted slightly. Hope you enjoy it as much as we have since then …

Ingredients:
apples
filling ingredients
a little water

First filling –
Currants
Oats
Cinnamon

Second filling –
Chopped dates
Oat bran
Cinnamon
A little brown sugar

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 190°C.
2. Prepare the filling, the oats are quite dry so ensure that there is more fruit than oats in the filling. I would only use about one tsp of spice to four apples (other spices can be incorporated … I’ve just not tried them yet!).
3. The apples need to be cored and then the hole stuffed tightly with the filling.
4. Place apples in a baking paper lined baking dish. A little water added to the dish at this stage will help to cook them (using steam) and will keep them moist. They can also be sprayed lightly with oil to give the topping a nice golden crunch but this isn’t necessary.
5. The apples are then baked for at least 40 minutes, preferably longer till they are exploding out of their skins and falling apart so they are soft and easy to eat with a spoon.
6. Enjoy with custard, caramel sauce and ice-cream if you are feeling decadent, or with yoghurt and honey if you just want a light snack or dessert! Most of all, share them with a few other someones and enjoy the chorus of “mmms”.

Feeding the family (with Apple Crumble and Custard)

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This is getting close to being the way I will keep making Apple crumble. The filling comes from Orangette’s blog, and is her interpretation of Nigel Slater’s apple crumble recipe. It is very yummy and smells very good as the apple pieces goldenise. The topping is slightly adapted from Shauna Niequist’s version of her mother’s Blueberry Crisp Recipe … but just the ‘crisp’ part. I own her book Bread & Wine, and that is where it came from. I have recently decided that desserts can be deeply nourishing, especially when they involve fruit. If you ask my mum, this realisation been a very long time coming because I spent most of my childhood happily eating ice cream on special occasions but consistently refusing cooked fruit desserts in pretty much every form. But now I would like to think that I am somewhat older and wiser. I am really enjoying cooking heart warming things like apple crumble and custard for friends and family and watching faces light up when you announce what it is you have cooked. It makes me feel happy inside. And so, here it is. A little bit of happiness in a bowl for you and your family.

Ingredients:
For the filling
6-8 medium green apples (and pears if you like, approximately 1.4-5 kg)
Juice of a lemon
1/3 + an extra half 1/3 cup measure (100 grams) sugar
3-4 Tbsp. (45-50 grams) unsalted butter

For the topping
1 ½ cups rolled Oats
¾ cup raw unsalted almonds (roughly chopped, other nuts work well too)
¾ cup almond meal
1/3 cup coarsely ground linseed meal
1/3 cup brown sugar (or maple syrup)
1/3 cup olive oil
¾ teaspoon salt

For the Custard
1.2 lts milk
4 eggs
50g cornflour
120g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 175°C.
2. Peel and core the apples, cut them into rough 1-inch chunks, and toss them in a large mixing bowl with the juice of the lemon and the sugar.
3. Warm a frying pan over a highish heat. Add the butter, melt it and when it stops foaming, add the apples and their juices. Gently stir the apples so they are in a single layer if possible and let them simmer away for a little while. The apple juices combined with the butter, sugar and lemon will make a syrup that coats the apple pieces. Keep cooking them till they turn golden in patches.
4. Pour the apples and any of the syrupy caramel juices out of the frying pan into the baking dish. The left over syrup in the pan can be deglazed with some lemon juice or water and the pan juices poured over the apple pieces. Yum!
5. To make the topping, mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Distribute the topping evenly over the apples.
6. Bake for approximately 35-40 minutes, or until crisp and golden. Serve warm or at room temperature.
7. Make custard while the apples cook; heat the milk a saucepan – it shouldn’t boil, the surface should just tremor gently.
8. All the other ingredients (except vanilla) need to be whisked together in a small bowl. Pour into the milk and stir with a wooden spoon till custard has thickened and coats the back of the spoon. Add vanilla and serve with apple crumble.
9. Enjoy the warm happy glow of family combined with hot apple crumble and custard in a bowl!

Green Apple Salad

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We eat lots of salad in my family. My younger brother used to refuse cooked vegetables (in his defence, he’s come a long way!) and the practice kind of stuck. Sometimes though, its nice to have a change. Friday night a few weeks ago I sort of dreamed up a new salad for fun (and for dinner). Its sort of inspired by some of the ingredient mixtures in Mollie Katzen‘s Moosewood Cookbook but also by what we had in the cupboard.

Ingredients:
2-3 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
2 handfuls of baby spinach leaves
1 green apple chopped up
handful of almonds roughly chopped
1/2 handful of pinenuts
1/2 handful of currents
1 head of broccoli (small florets removed and blanched or steamed)
1/2 lemon (squeezed over the apple so it didn’t go brown)

Optional*:
1/2 bunch of shallots sliced finely
handful of chopped parsley (even basil … maybe?!)
avocado
peas/beans

*(I didn’t add these things but I think they would make nice additions if you like them!)

Dressing:
2 tablespoons of low fat, plain yoghurt
2 tablespoons of white vinegar
Juice of one orange
1 tsp caster sugar

Method:
1. Prepare the salad ingredients as per directions. With the broccoli, we blanch this regularly for salad, it only needs a quick cook, so its just tender, not soft. Pop the hot vegetables in cold water to refresh and then pat dry on a clean tea towel.
2. Toss the ingredients together in a bowl.
3. Mix the dressing ingredients together in a container with tightly fitting lid. Shake to combine.
4. Dress salad to taste.
5. Enjoy!