Apples for Africa

PATRICIA SOPER
Last updated 10:30 22/07/2014
Southland Times photo
MOIST AND HEALTHY-ISH: New season apples are a popular winter fruit. Combined with fresh walnuts in a zingy batter, this easily made cake is a perfect dessert for a cold night.

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In the 1960s I worked on a back-country sheep station where apples were stored in a way that kept them fresh but, more importantly, protected from savage frosts.

Wire racks, lined with hay, provided insulation for the "cookers" picked from the station's orchard in autumn. This method worked so well that fruit was usable well into spring, which was just as well as the kitchen produced meals for all and sundry.

Apple puddings of all sorts made a regular appearance, yet despite the repetition no-one grumbled. That's the wonderful thing about apples. They lend themselves to re-invention.

I still store apples but now simply wrap them in newspaper.

Sadly, the fruit from the most prolific of our trees does not keep well. Their skins are thin and they spoil, not from external blemishes but rot from the inside. The best keepers, in my experience, are those with thick, oily skins.

Today's recipe is one I adapted from Bake, by Allyson Gofton. I have never had a failure with this recipe and heartily recommend it. Serve with icecream or cream or eat as cake.

APPLE AND WALNUT CAKE (serves 6-8)

100g melted butter

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 Tbsp golden syrup, slightly warmed

 3-4 medium apples, peeled and chopped
 1 cup self-raising flour
 2 tsp baking soda
 2 tsp ground ginger
 1 tsp cinnamon
 1 cup wholemeal flour
 grated zest of 2 lemons

1 cup chopped walnuts

1. Heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

2. Line a 20cm loose-based tin with baking paper.

3. Stir together butter, sugar, eggs and syrup in a big bowl.

4. Add apple chunks and stir until fully combined.

5. Put a sieve over the bowl and sift the self-raising flour, baking soda and spices over the mixture.

6. Stir well.

7. Add the wholemeal flour and zest. Stir again.

8. Scrape mixture into the prepared tin.

9. Sprinkle walnuts on top.

10. Bake centre oven for about 40 minutes.

11. Allow cake to cool in tin until just warm. Turn out and allow to finish cooling on a wire rack.

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12. Store in a container in a cool place.

Cook's notes: Ring the changes by using crisp pears and hazel nuts.

Apples are great in a pork and apple-cider casserole, with kumara cooked on top.

- The Southland Times

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