After a rather dull and soggy end to the summer, it’s turning out to be a gorgeous start to autumn.
With the leaves just beginning to turn, I’m looking forward to a stunning colourful autumn display.
Despite the cooler summer, fruit has been in abundance this year. As well as a great first year crop of raspberries and gooseberries, my apple and pear tree have been laden with gorgeously tasty fruit.Globalisation means that apples are now available all year round, shipped from the other side of the world to meet our all year round demand. But nothing beats the flavour, or density of nutrients, as a locally grown, freshly picked apple. There are so many varieties of home grown apples – 2,200 according to this article http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/mar/14/apple-britain-gala-traditional – but only a few available in our supermarkets, which is a real shame. I was most annoyed the other day to find only one type of British apples available for sale, despite the fact it’s the UK apple season. There were many other bags of apples, but none were even from Europe.
Because of it’s popularity, it’s easy to see apples as a mundane, non-impressive fruit. In fact, apples are a powerhouse of nutrients that help us to stay healthy, but it’s the type of fibre that’s particularly interesting. Research shows that the insoluble fibre in apples, particularly the pectin, feeds the friendly bacteria that live inside our guts. These helpful chaps not only help digest and absorb food, but keep our gut linings healthy and provide protection from the harmful bad bacteria.
It appears that cooked apple is even more effective than raw, although eating raw is also good. And when paired with cinnamon, cooked apple is even more beneficial. This is great news, as suddenly puddings are a health food! Well, as long as they’re not packed full of sugar and fat!
Traditionally, cooking apples like Bramleys, are used for crumbles and pureés, but I tend to use eating apples instead, as you don’t have to add sugar to make them more palatable. So you could add apple and cinnamon pureé to some dairy free yoghurt for a simple dessert, or dollop a spoonful in your porridge in the morning.
This cake is also another way of getting the goodness of apple, whilst enjoying the comfort of a mighty fine cake. As I’m using eating apples, the skins can be kept on as they become soft when cooked. This not only makes it quicker to prepare, but retains many of the super-healthy phytonutrients that live just under the skin. The apples are naturally sweet, which means you don’t need to add as much sugar to the mix. I’m using coconut sugar as much as possible now, as it’s a less refined and provides a deep, luxurious flavour. As it’s so dark brown, it doesn’t really work in a light sponge cake, but is perfect for this kind of gooey deliciousness.
So why not give this a go at the weekend? Your tummy and your tastebuds will love you for it!
Autumn apple cake
1 1/2 cup self raising flour (gluten free if needed)
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup organic rapeseed oil/olive oil
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup dairy free milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
3 eating apples – 1finely chopped, 2 sliced ***
extra coconut sugar
dairy free spread
Pre-heat the oven to 180ºc. Grease a loose-bottomed cake tin with the dairy free spread, then line the base with greaseproof paper. Grease the paper again, and sprinkle the extra coconut sugar over the base to cover lightly. Arrange the sliced apples on top in a circle, covering the whole base. Grab two bowls. In one, add the oil, water, dairy free milk, lemon juice and vanilla essence, and whisk together to mix. In the other, sift the flour, baking powder and cinnamon, then stir in the salt and coconut sugar. When you are ready, pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir quickly to combine, but don’t over mix. Add the chopped apple and mix gently. Your batter will be quite thick. Spoon into the cake tin, taking care not to disturb the arranged apple slices on the bottom. Tap the tin on the work top before placing in the oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the top is firm and a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then remove onto a cooling tray, carefully peeling off the baking paper so your apple arrangement remains intact on top.
Eat warm, or cool completely; it’s great both ways. Enjoy!
*** Update 7th August – add 120g blackberries to get a super seasonal flavour plus added vitamin C and awesome phytonutrients. And if you’re out and about and see some blackberry bushes, forage them and you have free food too! Sprinkle 80g on top of the apples in the base of the cake tin and gently stir in the remainder into the cake batter. Enjoy!