Tag Archives: apples

Pear Loaf Cake

When it’s apple season it also happens to be pear season.  My Grandmother always grew pears aswell as apples and always kept a fruit paring knife in her apron to dole out fruit to the hungry grandchildren.  She always kept the pears on the windowsil to ripen. And for me, often, pears are like avocados.  A 10 second window of ripeness that often happens, apparently, in the middle of the night, so that they go from rock- diamond hard to mush in 12 hours. This cake uses pears, but they are nearly better when not quite ripe.

Pear Loaf Cake

Pear Cake
200g Plain Flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
200g sugar, plus more for sprinkling
100g butter, melted and cooled, plus more for brushing
80ml plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 large pear, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon minced crystallized ginger

Preheat the oven to 180°C and butter and line a loaf tin. In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar with the melted butter, buttermilk, eggs and vanilla. Using a wooden spoon, mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, then fold in the pears and ginger.

Pear Cake

Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake in the centre of the oven for about 45 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean; loosely cover the top with foil during the last 15 minutes to prevent over-browning.

Pear Loaf Cake

Pear Loaf Cake

Transfer the cake to a wire rack and let cool completely in the pan. Invert the cake onto a plate and invert again.  I like to “paint” the cake top with sugar syrup and I scatter some sugar crystals. Slice the cake and serve with some softly whipped cream.
Pear Cake

Apple Streusel Muffins

Apple season is upon us again, and I’ve a couple of delicious new recipes to share.  The first being this SUPER easy apple streusel muffin recipe.  I don’t do lunchbox idea blogs, but if I did- this would be on the list. AND they freeze.  If they stay around that long.

Apple Streusel Muffins

Yields 12 muffins
For the muffins:
240g plain flour
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 large Eggs
240g brown sugar
225ml natural yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
110g butter, melted and still warm
2 medium-sized cooking apples, peeled, cored and diced into irregular pieces (this bit is important!)
For the streusel:
100g plain flour
50g packed dark brown sugar
50g granulated sugar
50g butter, melted
Preheat oven to 180°C. Put cupcake wrappers in the muffin tin. If you don’t want to use these then grease the tins really well.
Whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, ginger, and nutmeg. In another bowl, combine eggs, brown sugar, yogurt, and vanilla. Add the melted butter, pouring in a slow and steady stream, while whisking vigorously to emulsify the mixture.

Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients and gently fold until the liquid is just barely combined, being careful not to over-mix. (A few lumps are okay.) Stir in the chopped apples. Fill each muffin well all the way to the top with batter; set aside while preparing the streusel.

For the streusel:

add the flour, brown sugar, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Pour in the melted butter and gently stir with a fork until well combined and small pebble-sized pieces remain throughout.
Top each filled well with a heaping tablespoon of streusel, lightly pressing it into the batter. (A round cookie cutter placed over the cup helps keep the mess to a minimum.) Bake muffins for 18 to 22 minutes, until tops are golden and a toothpick comes out clean. Leave the muffins in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to continue cooling.
Recipe Notes
To get the most “apple” out of your apples, vary the size of the pieces — the finer chopped apples melt into the batter while the larger diced apples keep their shape, revealing sweet morsels in every bite.

Apple Streusel Muffins

Apple Streusel Muffins


Delicious Brown Butter Apple Financier Recipe

As you know at this stage, I’m more than a little obsessed with financiers, or friands. For a number of reasons;

1.They use up egg whites if you don’t want to make macaron or meringues

2. You don’t need any fancy mixing equipment, the tin is a plus, but not entirely necessary, you could make them in muffin tins

3. You can add all kind of flavourings to them

These are perfect for using up those apples.  I prefer to use eating apples, but cooking apples would work just aswell, just adjust the sugar until they are palatable.
The “brown butter” element is a valuable technique, but used in this recipe to give that extra layer of flavour, so hold your nerve and don’t be tempted to skip this stage.

Brown Butter Apple Financiers


150g Butter, soft

3 medium egg whites

125g Caster Sugar

55g Plain Flour

55g Finely Ground Almonds

½ teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon Vanilla paste

2 Eating Apples, peeled and chopped into smallish pieces.

40g butter, melted- fro greasing and apples.



Preheat the oven to 170oC.  Brush the financier tray extremely well with half approx.. of the melted butter

Heat the remaining butter and brown the chopped apples in this.  Leave to cool.

Melt the 150g of butter until the solids have separated and they are starting to turn brown.  Remove from the heat and cool.
Mix all the remaining cake ingredients, apart from the apples, in your mixer until light in colour and a little fluffy.  Add in the melted 150g of butter, mix well again and leave for 30 minutes in the fridge to rest.  This helps remove unnecessary bubbles.  Rebrush the tin, and fill the sections ¾ full.  Spoon the apples pieces on top.

Bake for 15- 20 minutes.  Cool in the tray for 5 minutes.

Dust with icing sugar , and a little cinnamon.

Apple Crumble

Apple crumble is one of life’s best comfort foods. It ticks all the boxes, especially when served with custard, ice cream, or on special occasions, both.

Originally designed to cope with the rationing of ingredients during World War II.  This dish can contain a myriad of ingredients, both sweet and savoury. And also a kaleidoscope of toppings. But for me, especially at this time of the year, it has to be homegrown apples, with a simple butter, sugar and flour crumble mix.

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The only addition to luxury I include is the sautéeing of the apples in a golden caramel. I feel this gives an extra layer of flavour to the apples.  But they can be simply peeled, sliced and added to the dish, without the pre cooking.

Traditional Apple Crumble


575g Apples, peeled, cored and sliced to 1 cm thick

2 tablespoons caster sugar

25g butter

For the crumble

175g plain flour

110g golden caster sugar

110g cold butter


Preheat the oven to 1900C. Melt the butter with the sugar and put in a frying pan and heat until the butter melts. Stir the sugar and butter together and add the sliced apples. Once starting to soften, and the apples are turning golden then put in the baking dish.
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Put the flour and *crumble* sugar in a bowl with a good pinch of salt, slice in the butter and rub it in with your fingertips until the mixture looks like moist breadcrumbs.  Shake the bowl and any big bits will come to the surface – rub them in.  Alternatively, pulse in a processor until like breadcrumbs (don’t over-process).

Pour the crumb mix over the apples to form a pile in the centre.  Gently press the surface with the back of the fork so the crumble holds together and goes crisp, then lightly drag the fork over the top for a decorative finish.

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Set on a baking tray and put in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, until the top is golden and the apples feel very soft when you insert a small, sharp knife. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

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Apple and Cinnamon Pancakes

Moving away from the chocolate oreo fest, I’m turning to a more fruity version.  A little like the oatmeal pancakes, these are a little bit healthier.  The addition of wholemeal flour, and brown sugar leaves the total ingredient list a little less processed. And of course the apple.


Saturday 06 Feb 022

Apples & Cider 🙂

Our apples are a little past their best for this use, so I bought some nice Irish Galas. But all is not lost.  This recipe uses apple cider in it 🙂 So I get the opportunity to use our own cider, which is made from our own apples.  So it’s a win win really. And to tell you truth, these are my favourites so far!   Saturday 06 Feb 026

Apple Cinnamon Pancakes


100g flour

90g whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg ( or a small shake!)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 large egg

240 ml apple cider

2 tablespoons butter, melted


In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Make a well in the centre and add the egg, apple cider, and melted butter. Stir together until combined (a few lumps are okay).

Pour 1/4 cup of batter onto a heated heavy pan and cook each side until lightly browned. Serve hot with apple cinnamon topping (below).

Apple Cinnamon Topping

4 large apples (or 6-8 small apples), peeled and cored

1 teaspoon lemon juice

180 ml apple cider

50 grams brown sugar, packed

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Cut the apples into 1/8-inch slices and cut those slices in half. Put the apples in a saucepan and add the lemon juice and apple cider. Stir apples to coat thoroughly with the mixture. Cover the apples and cook over medium heat for 7 minutes.

Add brown sugar. Turn heat down to medium-low and cook uncovered until the juice thickens and the apples are tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in cinnamon.

To serve, spoon apple cinnamon on top of pancakes. Drizzle with warm maple syrup.



An Apple a Day

We have just harvested the last of the apples.  Phew.  Well when I say we, I mean, of course the royal “we”. And most of them are going to cider making and apple juice.  But it would be just unfair not to make some apple desserts.  There are probably more variations on apple pies then there are apples.  But I have a number of favourites, one of which involves making THE easiest crust ever, and doesn’t take cold hands, or indeed, any resting.  This means it can be made at the last minute, if you feel like a little something sweet.


Elstar Apple

Elstar Apples

Apple Varieties:

We use alot of Elstar apples. It’s an offspring of Golden Delicious, and was introduced in 1972 from the Netherlands. It produces great crops, year after year, the apples last for some months when they are harvested.  We use it alot, and although it doesn’t have the sharp green skin that many want their apples to have, the taste is fantastic.  There are 144 apples native to Ireland, the Armagh Bramley Apple was awarded a protected status from the EU last year (A little like protecting champagne, and the Waterford Blaa).  I think my favourite is the Blenheim Orange for a cooking apple variety.

The recipe I use is great with lots of fruits, but with something like an apple, I tend to sauté them first to start the cooking process.


Caramelising Apples in Butter and Sugar

The crust is a simple crumble crust, that is simply mixed and pressed into the serving dish.  This tart doesn’t like being removed from it’s cooking dish, so is best served straight from it. But it also doesn’t need resting or chilling.

Crumb Pastry

Crumb pastry

Then simply add the semi cooked apples, cover with some cinnamon infused sugar, and bake until the sugar covering melts.

Apple Custard Tart

Crust with the caramelised apples

Then the cream/ egg yolks mix is poured gently over the apples, if possible while the tart stays on the oven shelf.  this cooks until golden and set.

Apple Tart

Apple Tart, with a custard filling

It only needs to cool for about 20 minutes before ready to slice carefully, and of course it can be served with more cream!


Cider Making- our journey.

Apple Trees were once one of the seven “nobles” of the woods, as taught through Brehon law.  Apple pips, most probably from crab apples (wild Irish crab apple Malus Sylvestris), having been excavated in Co Meath and carbon dated as 5000 years old. There seems to have been approx 70 varieties of Irish Apple, including, Maidens Blush, Buttermilk Russet, Bloody Butcher, Greasy Pippin, Lady’s Finger of Offaly.  For most users, apples are divided into three main categories, dessert (eating), cooking and cider making.  We are using eating and cooking apples to make our cider.  There are some old and some “newer” varieties.  As for cider making itself? Old Irish texts are so far somewhat silent on the matter of cider-making, although the first definite mention appears in the 12th century when a tribal leader from Ulster is praised for the cider he made from the produce of his orchards. As with many other traditions, the famine wiped out alot of the then cider makers.  After a while such few presses made it un-economical to make, as farmers had to travel with their apple crops.  Only more recently has the art of cider-making again become popular. ( Cider Ireland)

We have to wait until the early modern period and the 17th,18th, and 19th centuries before the discussion of cider-making in Ireland becomes commonplace among writers of the time.

Cider Making in this house has started in earnest.  “We” have been dabbling in it the last number of years.  It’s really Nigel’s baby.  But we all chip in with the apple picking, and of course advice! The apple press FINALLY arrived, so we are READY.  The cider-making really came about

Cider Making

The Cider Press

Course, the next most important thing is APPLES!

Cider Making


Once the press is assembled, the apples are crushed to make them easier to press for juice.

Then this is pressed through a fine mesh.  And then its onto the next stage…

but in the meantime we just make some apple juice for breakfast, we do pasteurise it and also sterilise the bottles, to be sure, to be sure!
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It’s not then a million steps into this stage, I love the sound of the gentle blurping that accompanies the faint angels share of cider in my utility room.  Just a little addition of yeast and sugar, with some gentle warming.

Cider Fermentation

Cider making

After about three weeks, once the liquor starts to clear, we then bottle it.  This bit is still a work in progress.  Trying to find the best way to filter it is not the easiest.  We’ve tried “jelly bags” and coffee filters.  Ultimately we want a really clear cider.

Cider Making Stage 3

Cider Making Stage 3

And now it sits again, and we wait to taste.