One of the nicest surprises about moving to the small market town where my family and I live was the fruit, there’s tonnes of the stuff. From the apples, strawberries, raspberries and gooseberries we have growing in our garden to the big fig tree on the way to the pub, (I’m not sure why that description leapt to mind). Charlbury is the man from Del Monte’s dream, although he’d be wise to wear more than a white linen suit and a Panama hat if he’s going to visit at this time of year.
One thing we have discovered is that November in Charlbury means free apples. People leave boxes and wheelbarrows full of the things at the end of their driveways with signs telling you to ‘help yourself’. Some kind souls even provide bags to take them away in. Normally we wouldn’t need any apples. The tree in our own garden last year had such a plentiful harvest that we too were doling out the freebies. However, for reasons best known to people with more of a green finger than me it’s been a terrible year for anything other than gooseberries in our garden. As a result we have been grabbing the excess apples of others and making all sorts of things. From apple and blackberry pies, (made with berries we’d foraged for locally too) to apple bread and crumbles, it’s all been there. The only problem is that we’ve still got loads of Bramley apples to get through and this is how we’re dealing with it. Apple sauce.
Apple sauces and chutney are a great way of preserving the fruit that is on the edge of going bad. Whilst not being a huge fan of chutney the apple sauce has been a great addition to meal times but is also used in a number of delicious cakes and bars. I’m going to take this opportunity to share one of my favourites. It would help first though if you knew how easy it was to make apple sauce.
Bramley Apple Sauce
450g or 1lb of Bramley cooking apples
2 teaspoons of water
50g or 2oz of sugar, (you may need more depending on the tartness of the apples). Note: If you are making apple sauce for the bars recipe below, unsweetened sauce is best.
Peel, quarter and core the apples then cut the quarters in two and put in a small stainless steel or cast iron pan. Add the sugar and water, cover and cook over a low heat.
As soon as the apple has broken down, stir so it’s a uniform texture and taste for sweetness.
That couldn’t be easier and you now have a key ingredient for any number of delicious treats!
This next recipe is a now a family favourite. Our daughter claimed not to like these bars only discover that perhaps they were rather nice. Sadly for her my wife and I had scoffed most of them. You snooze, you lose.
(For the Bars)
250g of plain flour
2 tsps of baking powder
2 tsps of ground cinnamon
1 tsp of baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
4 eggs, beaten
200ml vegetable oil
400g Apple Sauce
Preheat oven to 180 degrees. In a bowl the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Stir in the eggs, apple sauce and oil until combined. Spread the batter into an ungreased 40 cm x 25cm x 2.5com, (15 x 10 x 1 inch, in old money) baking pan.
Bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted near the centre comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for two hours, spread with cream cheese frosting, (recipe below) and cut into bars.
(For the frosting)
115g of cream cheese
50g of softened butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
350g of icing sugar
In a large mixing bowl beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in icing sugar to reach spreading consistency.