There’s a lot to love about apples. Whether you prefer crisp and crunchy, tart or sweet, for eating or cooking, there’s an apple to suit every taste. Even though I eat apples all year, I always look out for new season’s apples in autumn, which I enjoy the most. Farmer’s markets are a great place to find some of the less known varieties. Not as uniformly perfect or polished as their commercial counterparts, these apples, with their quirky names of yesteryear are full of character and have a beauty and charm of their own.
When buying apples, choose those with skin that is firm and smooth to touch. They should be stored in the refrigerator to stay crisp for up to 2 weeks, although some apples, like Granny Smith’s, can be stored longer.
Apples are perfectly suited to cooking, and the cool autumn weather provides the perfect excuse for whipping up one of these warm treats.
7 – 8 Golden Delicious apples
half cup caster sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 star anise
400g puff pastry (I like Careme brand)
1 egg, beaten
Heat oven to 200C.
Peel apples and cut into quarters, removing the cores.
Melt butter in an ovenproof 22 – 25cm frypan and sprinkle half the sugar over the base. Place vanilla and star anise in bottom of pan, then pack in the apples tightly. Note that they will soften and sink a little as they cook.
Sprinkle over remaining sugar and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes until the bottom looks golden. Remove from heat.
Roll out the pastry and place over the apples. Trim around the edges with a small sharp knife, using the outside of the frypan as a guide and discard the excess pastry. Tuck the pastry inside the rim of the frypan, so the pastry surrounds the apples. Prick lightly with a fork, brush with beaten egg and bake in oven until golden, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven.
Place a large serving plate over the pan and carefully turn upside down. The tart will release from the pan and any extra juices will drizzle over the apples. If a piece of apple becomes stuck in the pan, gently remove it and press it into the tart.
Serve hot with cream or ice cream.
Mum’s apple pie
8 red apples (Fuji, Pink lady or Jazz)
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
1 stick cinnamon
1 star anise
zest 1 lemon
½ cup caster sugar + 2 tbsp extra
1cup self raising flour
1cup plain flour
125g unsalted butter at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
1 egg yolk
golden caster sugar to sprinkle over the top
Peel and core apples. Cut into thick slices. Place in a medium pan with vanilla, star anise, cinnamon, lemon zest and ½ cup sugar. Add ¼ cup water, cover with a lid and cook over low heat for 20 minutes until soft (add a little extra water if the apples look too dry). Set aside to cool. Remove vanilla pod, cinnamon and star anise and discard.
Sift flours together with 2 tbsp extra caster sugar and a pinch of salt. Rub butter into flour until it forms crumbs. Beat egg yolk with 2 tbsp cold water and add to the mixture. Knead gently until it forms a dough. Wrap in cling wrap and place in fridge for 20 minutes to rest.
Preheat oven to 200C.
Grease the base and sides of a 23cm deep pie dish with softened butter.
Cut pastry into 2 pieces, one slightly larger than the other (for the base and top). Roll out the larger piece to approx. 26cm and line the bottom and sides of the dish.
Place cooled apple filling in the pie.
Roll out the remaining pastry and place over the top of the filling. Press the edges together with your fingers to seal. Trim around the edge with the back of a small sharp knife to neaten. Use a fork to press indentations into the pastry edge. Make a vent in the middle of the pie with a sharp knife or kitchen scissors. Sprinkle over golden caster sugar.
Bake in oven for 35 minutes.
Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or cream.
4 red apples
½ cup pure maple syrup
1 large egg
½ cup milk
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
200ml sour cream
1 cup self raising flour
vegetable oil for frying
icing sugar for dusting
Peel and core apples*. Slice horizontally into 1 cm thick rounds.
Place in a shallow dish and pour over maple syrup. Set aside to allow the flavour to infuse into the apples.
In a medium bowl, mix egg, milk, sugar, spices and sour cream. Add flour and mix until smooth.
Heat oil in a deep fryer or heavy bottomed deep pan to 190C.
Remove apple slices from maple syrup, drain any excess syrup off and lightly pat dry.
Dip apple slices into the batter to coat completely, then deep fry in hot oil for 2 minutes each side. Remove and drain on paper towel. Repeat with remaining fritters. Dust heavily with icing sugar and serve warm.
*you will need an apple corer that can be pushed through the centre of the apple, to remove the core. If you don’t have a corer, you can still make the fritters by cutting the apples into thick wedges.