English Heritage// Cooking with Apples!

Apples, they're part of our history, as a country, & something we enjoy on a daily basis!, we're big apple lovers in our house & are always buying more because A loves to help himself!.

But did you know? that you can cook & use apples in a wide variety of your cooking habits.

Some brief history of Apples.

Lots of thousands of years ago: Prehistoric crab apples grew across Europe, including in Britain.

AD 43-410: The Romans bring eating apples into style! They ate them raw, as well as cooked, sometimes with pork and savoury condiments, much as we would eat apple sauce with pork today

1200-1500: Medieval apples are cooked in pies and potages, often spiced for the rich, with old world spices such as aniseed, pepper and liquorice, although the poor still eat apples, drizzled with honey.

1500-1660: The Tudors now have a wide variety of apples, with many we know today arriving in the country, including the Reinette, the Pippin and the Nonpareil. We also ate Russets, which became a very British apple, neglected elsewhere due to its dull brown skin, despite its lovely flavour

1660-1840: The Georgian era gives us the Bramley, and also the Orange Pippin, and more creative ways of cooking with apples, A dish called black-caps was popular, and involved sprinkling lemon zest and juice and sugar on peeled, cored apples, and putting them under a grill or in an oven to caramelise. Apple fritters, pies, puddings, tarts and preserves were also widely eaten!

1840-1914: The Victorians give us the modern apple, with the average Victorian able to access more than 1500 apples for their culinary pleasure. Charles Dickens recorded a winter treat in the form of the Norfolk Biffin (the apple variety is the Norfolk Beefing), which were apples, slowly dried out in the oven until brown, shrivelled, sweet and lovely, and eaten as a street food snack. And apple pies and tarts, stuffed apples, apple ice cream, apple jelly, apple cheese and apple soup were just some of the ways Victorians tucked into the nations favourite fruit.

1914-present day: WW1 and WWll led to a dramatic decrease in UK apple growth, around 65% of Britain’s orchards were lost between 1950 and 2000. In most modern supermarkets, you would struggle to find more than 6 varieties of apple, most of these will come from Australia and New Zealand. The most popular apple snack is now the apple pie, with a sharp decrease in all over areas of apple based baking.

English Heritage have challenged us to come up with a recipe as part of the apple festival at Audley End, from Sat 26th Sep to Sun 27th Sep.

English Heritage host the apple festival annually, it’s a real family festival at its core, and as well as over 100 types of apples, it offers games, the chance for children to try their hand at being William Tell (and shoot an apple with a bow and arrow!), gardening tips, cookery displays, country crafting demonstrations, and lots of food and drink to try out, as well as a live band, and extensive grounds for children to burn off steam in! The festival is also a great chance to celebrate one of the nation’s oldest fruits (it’s actually incredibly hard to date apples-they first appear thousands and thousands of years ago, remember before we were talking prehistoric apples?)

In keeping with the history of Apples & all the kinds we have today, I came up with two recipes, one savoury & the other sweet, giving you an idea of the variety & ways you can use & enjoy Apples!.

Sweet Potato Hash with Granny Smith Apples.

1Tbsp Olive oil
2 Granny Smith Apples
1 sweet Potato
1 small onion
salt (optional.).

Chop sweet potato, Onion & Apples.
Heat oil in a pan on medium/low heat.
Add the sweet Potato & cover,stir occasionally.
Once sweet Potato is almost fork tender add the apples & onion, when all are soft remove heat & enjoy.
sprinkle with salt.

Using the Granny Smith Apples in the Hash, gave it some body, It held its exact shape & added some slight sweetness against the sweet potato & the slight creamy taste of the onion, when gently cooked it took a slight yellow colour from it's usual white colour.

Cinnamon Apple Bread with Gala Apples.

1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Gala apples
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup softened butter
2 eggs
2tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup milk.

Mix brown sugar & cinnamon and leave aside.
Combine white sugar & butter until smooth
Add eggs & vanilla & beat on medium speed until combined
Add flour,Baking powder then milk.
Pour half unto loaf tin
cover with 1/2 the chopped apples
patting the apples into the mixture with back of a spoon.
Sprinkle with half the sugar & cinnamon mixture.
pour remaining mixture & repeat previous 2 steps.
Bake for 50 mins  or until toothpick comes out clean.

Using the Gala Apples in the bread recipe added some moisture to the bread, it added gentle sweetness, it was moist,springy & the taste of the apple pokes through the taste of the cinnamon, enhancing the other ingredients.

The Gala apples were softer to work with, had a slight yellow colour & look visually appealing in the bread too with it's slightly darker yellow colour once baked.

We cannot wait to go to the Apple festival! we hope to see you there!