Cinnamon Apple Cake with Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Buttercream

Cinnamon Apple Cake with Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Buttercream

In the run-up to re-launching my cake stall again next month I am currently embarking on the phase of what I like to call ‘recipe testing’ and what others might like to say is just baking and eating a ridiculous amount of cake.

I feel I owe it to my new pitch at Tottenham Green Market to burst forth from my maternity leave with a pantheon of new creations. I only really like to sell cakes whose recipes I have carefully honed to my idea of perfection; not too sweet, interesting flavour combinations and generally that are worth breaking your diet for. There is nothing worse than being seduced by a particularly ravishing looking lemon drizzle when you are supposedly disavowing sugar, carbs and joy, only to be disappointed by a bland, dry and tooth curlingly sugary affair. I aim for my cakes to not be like that. Cake should always be a celebration, whether it’s your birthday, Wednesday morning coffee with your fellow new mums or because you deserve it after a particularly trying day with an eight-month old gentleman, frustrated, as he can’t quite master crawling.

Spiced Apple Cake with Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Buttercream

This weekend’s recipe testing for my new Cinnamon Apple Cake with Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Buttercream coincided with our February Women’s Institute meeting which was perfect as I love it when my cakes have a purpose rather than just for baking’s sake. Plus my fellow WI members quite rightly know their cake and are not afraid to hold back with honest feedback. I was rather chuffed then when the whole cake was devoured in record time and the appropriate yummy noises were made. This time I promise it wasn’t just me doing that.

apple puree

Apples and salted caramel are absolutely BFFs, as evidenced by yesteryear’s Salted Caramel Apple Pie. Throw cream cheese into the mix and you have a particularly splendid party right there. Also there is a lot of apple puree involved here which delights me no end – I am an apple puree fanatic. Is puree the right word – or does that just refer to baby food? Hmmm, you decide, I have complete baby-weaning brain. Oh, did I mention I have a baby? Sorry, checking that now at the door.

Spiced Apple Cake with Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Buttercream

This is not just any run of the mill apple cake though, in case you were wondering. I have been experimenting with different flours recently and I added a few tablespoons of buckwheat flour to lend an earthy nutty chew to the sponge. This apple cake is wonderfully flavourful and the depth of the buckwheat rounds out the warmth of the cinnamon, allspice, cloves and nutmeg. I wonder even if next time I might like to be a little more daring with the buckwheat – if that happens I will be sure to add an update here. For now though, the amount here worked like gangbusters.

Spiced Apple Cake with Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Buttercream

I got the idea of the Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Buttercream from Ovenly, my new favourite baking book. Before Cole was born I was banned from buying any more recipe books; apparently we didn’t have the space and I couldn’t possibly have cooked all the recipes in the ones I already had. However, since ruining my body to give birth then henceforth devoting every waking and non-waking second to my precious firstborn, I now think that I deserve at least one new cookbook a week, nay, a day! Anyway, I have been buying them on the sly.

Spiced Apple Cake with Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Buttercream

I digress, the recipe in Ovenly pairs the buttercream with a Chocolate Stout sponge which sounds an absolutely sublime combination and something I must try. I can’t help but do something different though as I have always been contrary (actually that’s not true I’m very conformist, I just like pretend I invented the whole thing – look at me, aren’t I clever) and I have been craving apple cake for a few weeks now. Never being one to abstain from cravings the idea of combining the apple cake with the inspiration for the buttercream seemed like kismet. Plus the good thing with the salted caramel recipe I have included below is that it makes slightly more than you need for the buttercream which means finger dipping fun for all the family. Weeelllll… just me as I don’t think Luke’s yet clocked it’s there, probably because I have it hidden behind the broccoli and Cole has yet to be introduced to the wonder of sugar – so young, so innocent.

So after a tweak and a poke here and there this recipe has now been deemed fit for public consumption and lo I share it with you and in a few weeks I will also share it with Tottenham Green Market. Boom, here I come!

Spiced Apple Cake with Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Buttercream

(next post I promise there won’t be so much baby chat. Or maybe there will. See? Contrary.)

Cinnamon Apple Cake with Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Buttercream

225g plain flour
50g buckwheat flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
pinch of nutmeg
170g unsalted butter
280g soft light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
300g apple puree (about 4-5 apples – I used cox’s)

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170°C and line and grease 2 x 20cm round baking tins.
  2. Sift together the flours, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, salt and spices in a large bowl and set aside.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar for 5-10 minutes until light and fluffy.
  4. Drop the eggs, one at a time, into the creamed butter and sugar and mix in well. Then add the vanilla extract.
  5. Add the flour mixture alternately with the apple puree, adding the flour in three additions and the apple puree in two (begin and end with the flour), scrape down the sides of the bowls as needed and mix until just combined.
  6. Divide between the two cake tins.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes, then remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack completely before covering with the buttercream.

Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Buttercream

To make the salted caramel:
125g caster sugar
150ml double cream
20g unsalted butter
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon bourbon vanilla extract

  1. Tip the sugar into a small saucepan and heat on a medium temperature until the sugar melts. Do not touch with a spoon but you can encourage the melting by swirling the actual saucepan around occasionally if you like.
  2. Once melted, carefully stir in the double cream and butter which will bubble up furiously, the caramel may harden slightly but just keep on stirring the bubbly mixture until the cream, butter and sugar are smooth.
  3. Add the vanilla extract and salt, stir in quickly and remove from the heat.
  4. Pour directly into a glass jar, seal and place in the fridge to chill thoroughly.

To make the buttercream:
500g unsalted butter
600g icing sugar
120ml salted caramel
380g cream cheese

  1. Cream the butter until soft then add the icing sugar and mix for about 10 minutes until very light and fluffy.
  2. Scoop in the cream cheese and chilled salted caramel mixing in thoroughly.
  3. Generously sandwich the buttercream between the two apple sponges and cover the sides and top, piping decoration if you wish.

Apple, Cinnamon and Ricotta Gluten-Free Friands

Apple Cinnamon and Ricotta Friands
If you have met a financier (the cake kind not the money kind) then you have met a friand, albeit in a different shape and from another country. Financiers hail from France and are so-called due to their rectangular shape which was thought to resemble gold ingots. They are made with sugar, ground almonds, a kiss of flour and foamy egg whites, giving a lovely light and moist sponge. The friand is made in exactly the same way, except in an Australian kitchen and baked in oval shaped tins rather than rectangles. So that’s basically why I chose to made friands instead of financiers – that’s the tin I have.

Because the recipe uses so little flour it is no effort to turn these babies gluten-free without losing anything from the original recipe. The flour is just there to bulk out the ground almonds rather than any grand alchemy taking place. I think that’s the easiest way of creating gluten-free bakes, by adapting recipes which don’t rely on flour.

Apple Cinnamon and Ricotta Friands

I have tried mixing my own gluten-free flours and experimented with different blends of sorghum flour, potato starch, rice flour and millet flour among others. However, sometimes it’s just easier to reach for the bag of ready-made stuff. When you’re using so little flour anyway like in this recipe the difference is negligible. For this purpose I am more than happy to use Dove’s gluten-free flour blend, it’s reliable and the benefit is that you don’t need to order any out of the way ingredients from Amazon as it’s more than likely that your local supermarket stocks it.

These friands are amped up from the usual recipe by dropping in a teaspoonful of lemony sweetened ricotta into the finished batter then garnishing the top with cinnamon spiked buttery apple pieces just before they go into the oven. I think I got the idea of including the ricotta in a food magazine years ago and haven’t been able to resist adding a dollop to my recipe every time since. The creamy ricotta pairs perfectly with the buttery apple topping, making this a very simple bake but one that feels luxurious, delicate and of course good for your gluten-free friends.

Apple Cinnamon and Ricotta Friands

Apple, Cinnamon and Ricotta Gluten-Free Friands
Makes 12

3 Apples, diced
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon icing sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
squeeze of lemon juice
160g ricotta
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of 1 lemon
250g icing sugar
160g ground almonds
100g gluten free flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
¼ teaspoon of nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
200g butter, melted
180g egg whites (about 6)

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C and butter a 12 hole friand tin.
  2. Melt the 2 tablespoons butter then add the icing sugar, cinnamon, salt and lemon juice and then tip in the apple pieces.
  3. Fry for about 5 minutes, then remove from heat just before the apples turn soft and leave to cool.
  4. In a small bowl mix the ricotta with the vanilla, lemon zest and 1 tablespoon icing sugar until smooth and set aside.
  5. In a separate bowl mix the almonds with the flour, the rest of the icing sugar, ½ teaspoon cinnamon and salt together
  6. Then in another bowl the whisk egg whites a little until light and foamy.
  7. Fold the egg whites into the almonds along with the melted butter.
  8. Divide the batter between the friand moulds, then top with a spoonful of ricotta mixture. Finally add a few apples to the top of each one.
  9. Bake for 15 minutes then remove from the oven. Leave to cool in the tins for 10 minutes then turn out and finish cooling on a wire rack.
  10. Dust with icing sugar.

Apple and Sour Cherry Strudel

Apple and Sour Cherry Strudel

Making this apple strudel has been a bit of a labour of love this week. I adore a good apple strudel, ever since a weekend trip to Saltzburg many years ago where we seemed to eat nothing else but carb rich meat and dumplings, always followed by a bounteous portion of apple strudel. I remember stopping by a bakery on the way to airport to buy one last slice which we ate in the taxi, pastry flaking from our lips and the sweetly spiced apple sending us home with happy smiles and full bellies.

Apple and Sour Cherry Strudel

For the past couple of months I have been craving an apple strudel. We ate out at Fischers in Marylebone and although I gazed longingly at the strudel on the menu it was during a bout of horrible morning sickness when my appetite had completely gone off anything with sugar. A few weeks later I was excited to spot a huge wodge of strudel nestled on one of the cake stalls so I treated myself. But oh, it was a mistake, as the strudel was not good. The pastry was tasteless and flabby and the apple filling required a good more kick of spice and sugar. To make matters worse the apple inside had been sliced without peeling. There is nothing worse than having to pick bits of stray peel out of your teeth when you are supposed to be enjoying dessert. However this experience made me decide one thing. I had to make myself some apple strudel at the nearest opportunity.

Apple and Sour Cherry Strudel

Apple and Sour Cherry Strudel

The thing is I have never made filo pastry before and yes I know you can buy it and usually I would be happy to succumb to such shortcuts but after reading Felicity Cloake’s How to Make the Perfect Apple Strudel she insisted that making your own was not only easier than you would imagine but definitely worth the effort. I took her word for it and with memories of the contestants from the Great British Bake Off slamming their pastry around the tent to much drama I cleared a good space in the kitchen for the task.

Apple and Sour Cherry Strudel

It certainly wasn’t as easy as I had hoped. The ingredients aren’t too difficult, just a bit of flour, melted butter, warm water and a pinch of salt and sugar. However, I must have added far too much liquid to my first batch as it was rendered completely unmanageable for anything other that gluing my fingers together and sealing my work top with an unyielding paste which took about half an hour to clean away. I tried a second batch, not including all the liquid, so it was lovely and smooth and after flinging it around the kitchen for 15 minutes I left it to rest. However, when it came to rolling it out it refused to stretch out to the requisite size, either meaning the pastry was too dry or I hadn’t worked it enough. After the third try, by which time Billy Buddy was completely covered in errant pastry and Wesley had sloped away appalled by my uncharacteristic violence, I had been kneading and slamming for most of the afternoon. I think third time was the charm though as it did stretch out considerably better, and it was just about transparent enough to see newspaper print through which is the ultimate test.

Apple and Sour Cherry Strudel

After it had been filled, rolled and baked the finished result hit every spot. I don’t think my pastry would quite hold its own against the traditional delights of Austria without more practice but it was crisp and flaky on top without being too soggy in the middle, although a little give couldn’t be helped due to the moisture in my filling. And the filling was indeed delicious, I ate a fair amount of it raw whilst going through my various batches of pastry and it was even pretty good then. I made sure it had plenty of sugar but also to counteract it a tang of tartness from the sour cherries. I used granny smith and russet apples, both of which keep their form well during cooking and go together beautifully. Almonds toasted in butter and honey then ground to a crumb were used to sprinkle over the pastry before the filling is added to soak up some of the moisture and help to avoid sogginess.

I ate my strudel with a large helping of vanilla ice cream, craving satiated and put to bed for now.

Apple and Sour Cherry Strudel

Apple and Sour Cherry Strudel
Makes 2 strudels, each serving about 6 each

For the pastry:
300g plain flour
125 ml warm water
1 egg
2 teaspoons melted butter, plus more for brushing
A pinch of salt
1 teaspoon caster sugar

For the filling:
800g apples (about 3 granny smiths and 3 russets)
Zest of 1 lemon
75g sour cherries, soaked overnight in juice of 1 orange
75g soft light brown sugar
1 teaspoon mixed spice
70g flaked almonds
1 teaspoon honey
40g butter
Icing sugar for dusting

  1. Place the flour in a bowl and make a well in the centre.
  2. In a jug mix together the water, egg, melted butter, salt, and sugar then pour enough of these liquid ingredients into the centre of the flour until you achieve a soft and pliable dough. You don’t need to add all the liquid ingredients and the dough should not be too sticky that it sticks horribly to your hand.
  3. From here, knead the dough until soft, elastic, and well-combined then when the dough starts to get more elastic you can hold the pastry at shoulder height and slam down onto the work surface repeatedly until the dough loses all its stickiness and becomes extremely elastic. It should take between 20-30 minutes.
  4. Let the dough rest covered in cling film for 30 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile toast the almonds in 20g of the butter and the honey and then grind them in a food processor until they resemble fine breadcrumbs and set aside.
  6. In a large bowl, combine the sour cherries, sugar, mixed spice and lemon zest. Peel and core the apples, and chop them into thin slices, then place immediately in the bowl as well. Set aside whilst you roll out the pastry.
  7. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C and line a large baking tray with baking parchment.
  8. Divide the pastry into two. Roll the first ball of pastry to a rectangle of roughly 30 x 40cm where it should be pretty transparent. Do use your fingers to stretch out the pastry as well as your rolling pin, being careful not to rip the pastry.
  9. Brush melted butter all over the surface of the pastry.
  10. Scatter half of the ground almonds evenly over the pastry, leaving a border of about 1½ inches.
  11. Place half of the apple mixture over the ground almonds and gently fold the pastry from one of the short sides and continue to roll the pastry up tightly but carefully so the pastry doesn’t break. Fold the ends underneath and place the strudel on the baking tray.
  12. Melt the remaining 20g of butter and brush all over the strudel.
  13. Repeat the process with the second roll of pastry and filling to create another strudel.
  14. Bake the strudels for 25-30 minutes when the top should be golden brown.
  15. Let cool slightly, then transfer to a baking rack and serve with icing sugar liberally sieved over the top.

Pork Belly, Apple and Caramelised Walnut Salad

Pork Belly, Apple and Caramelised Walnut Salad
My second favourite food is salad. My first is cake (obv). I eat at least a salad a day, most of the time two and it’s usually salad for breakfast round my way.

I have been writing a lot on this blog and in my newsletter about how much street food I have been enjoying recently, at Dalston Street Feast, Broadway Market, Kerb at Kings Cross and even our very own Ally Pally farmers’ market but one of my main gripes is the lack of vegetables on offer to accompany these amazing foods. Duck confit, Korean barbecue, haggis and soft shell crab. Love ‘em. But why must they all be stuffed into buns? All they need to do is chop up a bit of cucumber, iceberg and tomato, if nothing else, and offer that as an alternative accompaniment, I’m sure they would double their appeal. I have spoken to a few people recently who simply can’t get invested in the street food scene due to the dearth of healthy options. Not all of us can eat burgers and melted cheese all weekend and get away with it. Especially if we are scarfing down cakes for the rest of the week (ahem).

Pork Belly, Apple and Caramelised Walnut Salad  |  Stroud Green Larder

I have been thinking about starting a market stall for a while and I have to say it was a big toss up between cakes and doing street food type grilled meat and salads. I love cake, it is my soul mate, I think about it night and day; during my crossfit workouts, when I’m having a lie-in on Sunday mornings and whilst I’m walking the puppy (whom now he is 1 years old should probably start to be referred to as a dog). However, as a consumer there is such a lack of freshly prepared salads, and I don’t mean the salad stalls that only serve vegan, carb enriched foods. I mean healthy, robust protein driven salads that can actually serve as your main meal. This time round I’m going with my heart and am so excited to be launching my own cake stall at a new farmers’ market in Harringay next month but at some point I would definitely like to be able to follow my other dream of opening an amazing place where salads reign supreme. The burger backlash has got to come at sometime, no?

5Pork Belly, Apple and Caramelised Walnut Salad  |  Stroud Green Larder

I love a salad with a big hearty flavour. The smack-you-round-your-chops heavy protein hitters like roast lamb shoulder, steak and here, pork belly, fit in with a light bright salad so much more comfortably then heavy carbs. You get all the joy of your favourite roast without being weighed down and you leave your meal feeling sated instead of stuffed. Plus, there’s more room for cake.

I had fallen out of love with pork belly for a while. When it first arrived on the scene it was everywhere, and actually if you go to any local drinking hole that likes itself as a bit of a gastropub then it probably still serves it, maybe with a bit of red cabbage if you’re lucky but definitely with mashed potato. For such an amazing cut of meat it got boring. Too many of these pubs serve it badly, floppy fat, dried out meat and in the worst offence that I have encountered recently, it was sliced in half and served without the signature crackling so the meat was paper thin and flabby.

Pork Belly, Apple and Caramelised Walnut Salad  |  Stroud Green Larder

However, pork belly is enjoying a bit of a renaissance in my kitchen, mainly because I came up with this salad which just seems to be the perfect balance of apple crisp, crackling crunch, melting meat, sweet walnuts, peppery dressing and a touch of sour from the green pepper, another misunderstood vegetable. I ate this salad three days running and didn’t get bored. I’m thinking of making it again this week and I can think of no greater example of how glorious, satiating and life affirming a proper salad can be.

Pork Belly, Apple and Caramelised Walnut Salad
Serves 4

1.5kg pork belly
1 tbsp finely chopped rosemary
½ tsp fennel seeds, crushed
½ tsp garlic powder
zest ½ lemon
¾ tsp salt
black pepper
1 apple
2 little gems
1 green pepper
6 spring onions
2 celery sticks

Caramelised walnuts:
60g walnut pieces
30g caster sugar
2 tsp salted butter

Dressing:
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
2 tsp white wine vinegar
plenty of salt and pepper
¼ tsp honey
30ml extra virgin olive oil

  1. Remove the pork belly from any packaging then place it on a plate unwrapped in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.
  3. Slash the fat on the top of the pork belly, making sure not to penetrate the flesh then place it on a rack in the sink and pour a kettle full of boiling water over to open up the slashes which will help to create a crunchy crackling. Pat the pork dry with kitchen paper.
  4. Next mix together the rosemary, fennel seeds, garlic powder, lemon zest, salt and pepper then rub all over the pork belly skin.
  5. Place the pork belly on a rack on a deep roasting tray and roast in the oven for 15 minutes.
  6. Turn the heat down to 170°C and continue roasting for about 3½ hours or until the crackling on the pork belly is golden and crisp.
  7. Remove from the oven and leave to rest whilst you make the rest of the salad.
  8. For the caramelised walnuts, place the walnuts, sugar and butter in a small saucepan and stir so the walnuts are thoroughly coated. Let the sugar dissolve into the butter then cook for about 3 minutes until the caramel turns a dark brown. Remove from the heat then quickly transfer the walnuts to baking parchment, separating them out from each other so they do not dry in a solid lump. Work with haste as the caramel will harden as soon as it starts to cool.
  9. Prepare the rest of the salad by slicing the apple, shredding the little gems, slicing the green pepper very thinly and dicing the spring onions and celery sticks. Mix together in a large salad bowl.
  10. To make the dressing, pour the mustard and vinegar in a small dish with plenty of salt and pepper and whisk together until the salt dissolves, then whisk in the honey. Drizzle the olive oil into the dish, whisking hard to emulsify the dressing, once it’s all mixed in, taste for seasoning.
  11. Assemble the final salad by shredding the pork, then toss together with the rest of the ingredients, drizzling with the dressing at the last minute.

Pork Belly, Apple and Caramelised Walnut Salad  |  Stroud Green Larder

Grilled Pork Chop with Apple and Blackberry Spiced Relish

Blackberry and Apple Spiced Relish
Just because blackberry week is coming to an end, don’t think this is the last you will see of this debonair fruit. I still have mountains of them to work through in my freezer. However, the urgency is gone, I no longer feel the burning need to add blackberries to everything and from now on I will only endeavor to use them if absolutely essential, or only once a day, instead of several times.

I just want to get one final recipe in the bag though this week and this one is ideal for dipping your hand into the freezer and pulling out a fistful to drop into your sauce to keep your apples company. It’s a quick and easy relish to eat with your Sunday roast or as part of a mid-week supper. I have served it with pork chops this week but it goes equally well with game birds although it’s a bit early in the season for that.

Blackberry and Apple Spiced Relish  |  Stroud Green Larder

Blackberry and Apple Spiced Relish  |  Stroud Green Larder

Now I always feel a bit Homer Simpson for saying this but pork chop really is my favourite thing to eat for dinner. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep on saying it until you want to throw a gnawed pork chop bone at me, but it’s the perfect cut of meat. It’s robust and juicy if you cook it right which means taking it out from under the grill juuuusst when the pink juices have disappeared. The thick sweet crackling should frame the chop and be as much a priority of the cut as the meat itself. The rind needs to be magnificently firm, which should always be the case if you source your meat from a good butcher. If you slice into the fat before putting it under the grill, which you definitely need to do, then when cooked they will pull gently off like crunchy golden jewels.

Blackberry and Apple Spiced Relish  |  Stroud Green Larder

I keep the seasoning of the pork chop extremely simple, just salt and pepper, when served with this relish as it does all the work for you. Do taste before serving as each apple and blackberry differs in sweetness so you might want to adjust your maple syrup accordingly. However, I was aiming for something a little sweet, a little tart and boisterous with flavour. Now, I have had this twice this week, the first time I didn’t crush the fruit after cooking and the second time (when I took the photos) I did crush the fruit. It’s up to you how you serve it but I think next time I would revert to the non-crushed relish, it was a little prettier. Ho hum, we live and learn.

The most frustrating part about being a food blogger is the necessity to hold yourself together and take the photos when you are ravenous, your belated lunch calling out to you from in front of the camera. Many a photo shoot for me has been cut short due to my terrible greed and lack of self-control. I can’t lie, this was one of those times. But I don’t regret a thing.

Blackberry and Apple Spiced Relish  |  Stroud Green Larder

Grilled Pork Chop with Blackberry and Apple Spiced Relish
Serves 2

2 Pork Chops
25g salted butter
1 apple, about 175g, diced
100g blackberries
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tbsp maple syrup

  1. Take the pork chops out of the fridge 30 minutes before you are due to start cooking them. Remove them from whatever packaging they are in, wash them then pat with kitchen towels so they are bone dry. Cut into the fat rind several times, about 1.5cm apart, making sure not to pierce the meat, and then set aside whilst you begin the relish.
  2. Melt the butter on a low heat, then add the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Bring it to a lovely bubble then turn the heat right down for about 30 minutes to let the apples soften and the blackberries pool around them.
  4. Meanwhile you can grill your pork chops. I seasoned them both sides with salt and pepper and then placed them under a moderate heat on the grill. Cook them for about 10-15 minutes until the crackling turns golden on one side, then turn them over. The second side will be quicker so keep an eye on them. Every size and thickness of pork chop cook at a different temperature so be careful. Remove from the grill when the crackling is golden and the meat juices run clear.
  5. Remove the relish from the heat and either crush or don’t crush before serving with the pork chop and some greens.

Salted Caramel Apple Pie

Salted Caramel and Apple Pie

This week my sister and I donned our Pink Lady jackets grabbed us each a T-Bird and headed back to school for a class on reproduction.  It was very informative, we even found out what pistils are.

Salted Caramel and Apple Pie2

For one night only the Lyric theatre was home to Cool Rider, a concert of songs from Grease 2, complete with a full cast, fantastic dancing and a re-telling of the scant plot.  The audience lapped up every dodgy innuendo, sang every lyric with the cast full throttle and cheered when Stephanie Zinone straddled that step ladder, her heart pouring out as she told us what she really wanted in a guy.  A devil in skin tight leather, if you’re interested.

Salted Caramel and Apple Pie3

The concert sold out so quickly that they added another performance squeezed in at 11pm.  I’m not surprised, how often do you get to indulge in a cheese fest of this scale.  It was so successful that they might be putting on more performances.  If that’s the case and you want to do it for your country that I seriously recommend you grab yourself a ticket.  Your mother will definitely approve.

Salted Caramel and Apple Pie4

I heard that Michelle Pfeiffer had disassociated herself with the film but after a brief scour on the internet I only found an interview with Jonathan Ross where she is game enough to talk about it but claims she hasn’t seen it for years so doesn’t know if it’s any good or not. The true professional. I did find an interview with Maxwell Caulfield though who claimed he was about to be the next Richard Gere and then Grease 2 destroyed his career. Poor love. If Grease 2 were released now I believe it would have a completely different reception, it’s unabashedly feminist replete with those fearless song lyrics.  Who these days would have such gumption to rhyme ‘cycle’ with ‘Michael’?  Give that lyricist a belated Oscar, there’s still time.  I for one would be giving it full marks if I was still a film critic.  On reflection maybe it’s this kind of praise for films of this quality which led to me being fired.

Salted Caramel and Apple Pie5

So, did you wanna talk about Grease 2 some more or do you want to have a butchers at this apple pie you’re getting so worked up about.  I nearly made you a cheeseburger with double double ketchup in honour of Grease 2 but honestly I have been wanting to give this apple pie a go for ages.  It’s been sitting in my food folders for years and it’s as American as they come so fits in nicely with today’s theme.

Salted Caramel and Apple Pie6

I adapted this apple pie from a recipe by Four and Twenty Blackbirds, a pie shop in the heart of Brooklyn which is getting a lot of attention at the moment.  I haven’t been, as even for me it’s a bit of a distance just for some pie, but who needs to when you’ve snagged their own recipe.  I have Britished it up though by including Bramleys, my favourite apple.  Using Bramleys helps cut down on the sweetness of the caramel and the salty twang on the tip of your fork is what completes this and I think has made it the best apple pie I have every had.  Sorry Nan.

Salted Caramel and Apple Pie7

Salted Caramel Apple Pie

Adapted from a recipe by Four and Twenty Blackbirds

1 quantity of your favourite sweet shortcrust pastry

Salted Caramel:
135g caster white sugar
40ml water
70g unsalted butter
75ml double cream
¾ tsp sea salt flakes

Apple Filling:
2 lemons
2 bramley apples
2 granny smith apples

Apple Filling Seasoning:
45g caster sugar
20g flour
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp ground ginger
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
3-4 dashes Angostura bitters
1 tbsp breadcrumbs

Assembly:
1 egg beaten
caster sugar for sprinkling on top

  1. Prepare your sweet shortcrust pastry. Roll the bottom crust to fit 18 x 3.5cm pie tin, and cut the top crust as a lattice. Chill the rolled crust and the lattice top while you prepare the salted caramel and apple filling.
  2. To make the salted caramel cook the sugar and water together over low heat until just dissolved.
  3. Add the butter and bring to a slow boil. Continue cooking at a low boil until the mixture turns a deep, golden brown colour, almost copper. This process can take awhile depending on the heat source. Keep an eye on it, if the caramel begins to smoke, you’ve burned it and you’ll have to start again.
  4. Once the mixture has turned a copper colour, remove it from the heat and immediately add the heavy cream – the mixture will bubble rapidly and steam – be cautious as the sugar will be very hot.
  5. Whisk the final mixture together well and sprinkle in the sea salt. Set the caramel aside while you prepare the apple filling.
  6. To make the apple filling juice the lemons into a large mixing bowl. Core, peel, and thinly slice the whole apples, popping them into the lemon juice as you go to prevent browning. Set aside.
  7. To make the apple filling seasoning combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg, and Angostura bitters. Sprinkle this mixture over the apples in the mixing bowl. Use your hands to gently mix and coat the apple slices.
  8. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
  9. To assemble the pie begin by sprinkling the breadcrumbs on the pastry base to help absorb some of the juices and avoid a soggy bottom.
  10. Then layer ⅓ of the apples in the bottom of the crust so that there are minimal gaps. Pour ⅓ of the caramel over the apples. Add ⅓ of the apples and caramel for a second layer, and then add a third layer of apples, and then the caramel again. Save a small portion of the caramel to pour on top once the lattice is assembled.
  11. Assemble the lattice crust and flute the edges of the crust. Pour the last bit of caramel on top. Brush the crust with the beaten egg and lightly sprinkle with caster sugar and sea salt.
  12. Place the pie in the oven on the middle shelf with a baking tray positioned on the shelf underneath to catch any caramel spillages. Bake the pie for around 40 mins when the pastry is golden and the caramel is bubbling up. The apples should be just soft.
  13. Let the pie cool before carefully removing from the tin, then serve.

No-Oat Apple and Almond Butter Porridge

No Oat Apple and Almond Butter Porridge

I am not a fussy eater. I will pretty much eat anything. However, all the things I don’t eat; eggs, mushrooms, baked beans, bread all seem to end up on breakfast menus, meaning it’s a real pain to eat breakfast out. Teamed with the fact that I’m slightly intolerant to milk and I have never really liked cereal it’s also a real pain to eat breakfast at home. So maybe I’m a little fussy, but only at breakfast time. Lunch, dinner, desserts, afternoon tea I’m a dream. I promise.

So I have a few breakfast recipes that are invaluable to me and also have the added bonus of being gluten free and dairy free which is perfect since this month I am celebrating gluten free cooking and baking. This porridge recipe is a little bit of a liar since it’s not technically porridge as it contains no oats but it has the same consistency, it’s just as filling and if you have your apple butter and almond butter to hand it’s actually quicker to make as it requires no cooking.

apple and almond butterIt’s easy to make your own fruit and nut butters and oh so much cheaper than the supermarket. The following recipes for apple and almond butter make enough to last all week and have reinvigorated breakfasts for me as they are so versatile. They can be mixed up together or added to recipes separately. And please don’t limit these butters to breakfast. The spiced apple butter works an absolute treat with grilled pork chops or added to cake batter to create a really moist sponge cake. The almond butter can be spread on pretty much anything, and used on toast, for baking or in sauces but I love to poke sticks of celery at it for a really tasty and healthy mid-afternoon snack.
almond butter step1
almond butter step 2
almond butter step 3
almond butter step 4
almond butter step 5These two recipes can form a bit of a gluten free toolbox which if you are trying to complete the Whole 30 or a paleo plan can be essential additions to your storecupboard.

Does it also go without saying that this is really scrummy. Well it is and of course is, that’s why I’m giving the recipe to you. You deserve only the best after all.

No-Oat Apple and Almond Butter Porridge

1 serving

4 tbsp unsweetened apple butter
4 tbsp coconut milk
2 tbsp almond butter

Mix all 3 ingredients up and top with blueberries or raspberries or more nuts if you like.
See – it’s very easy.

Unsweetened Apple Butter
Makes about 600ml

1 kilo bramley apples, peeled, cored and cubed
50g unsalted butter
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground allspice
⅛ tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla extract
a pinch of salt

In a large saucepan melt the butter.
Meanwhile sprinkle all the spices and the vanilla over the apple pieces, making sure they are well coated.
Once the butter is melted then add all the apple and spices. Cook on a low heat for about 30 mins until the apples have softened. Stir every so often so the apples don’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
Cool then jar.

Almond Butter
Makes about 250ml

300g almonds, with their skin on

Pour the almonds into a baking tray and bake for 10 mins in an oven set at 180°C.
Remove from the oven and place in a food processor.
Mix for 10 mins until the almonds have been blitzed into crumbs, come back together then create a butter.