Local fellow beekeeper, Peter, turned up with a bucket of his grapes. Each one had been individually hand-picked and, although some were instantly consumed, the rest wasn’t going to last long. They went into the Scandinavian steamer which is, bottom to top: hot water tank to produce the steam; juice reservoir with natty tube for decanting into bottles; large container for raw fruit; lid. The steam comes up through the middle, heats the fruit cells until they burst whereupon the juice drips down into the reservoir where it is heated by the water. The result: virtually pasteurised fruit juice that will last a year.
His bucket made 15 bottles of precious homemade grape juice and then we topped up the fruit with windfall apples. It’s steaming away to make apple and grape juice for homemade granola, and we can hardly keep up with the apples dropping from the trees!
The blustery winds and sharp showers brought down even more apples from the exceedingly venerable fruit trees. They are probably at least 130 years old and a good mix of eating and cooking varieties. This very moist apple cake is ideal for using any of the windfalls.
340g self-raising flour.
1 rounded teaspoon baking powder.
1 teaspoon salt.
340g soft brown sugar.
170g butter, cubed.
100g dates, chopped.
30g walnuts, shelled and chopped.
650g prepared mixed apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped.
4 eggs, beaten.
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste.
Spray a silicon ring mould with oil and dust with flour.
Rub the butter into the dry ingredients.
Add the dates, walnut pieces and chopped apples and mix so that the apple is well covered with flour.
Beat the vanilla with the eggs and gradually stir into the mix.
Stir thoroughly then place in cake mould.
Bake in pre-heated oven at 165C, Gas 3 for 90 -120 minutes, covering with a double layer of foil with a steam hole after 60 minutes.
Allow to cool before turning out.
I like my cakes to reach an internal temperature of at least 95C. The quantity of cold, wet apple means that this cake takes a longer time than expected to bake.
Mixing by hand is a good way to feel how well everything is combined before placing handfuls in the mould. Messy but I’m easy to clean afterwards.
A ring mould allows the heat to reach the middle of the cake but you could halve the ingredients and cook in a loaf tin lined with parchment paper.
My next experiment is to replace the sugar with honey – not sure what proportions will work.