It's Bramley Apple Week. At Great British Chefs it was great to see our bloggers getting so enthusiastic about the prospects of cooking with apples. Our guest blogger Urvashi Roe aka @BotanicalBaker, volunteered to do some apple picking a few weeks back and got some Bramley Apples for her efforts. She wanted to then try use them in a recipe from our site. See how her work turned into the dish below:
All photos by Urvashi Roe (except where stated)
I recently volunteered at Forty Hall Farm on a new venture they have embarked on. The Forty Hall Community Orchard. The project is completely run and managed by volunteers and kicked off a couple of weeks ago with preparing the land ready for planting. There was a lot of digging by volunteers young and old. Trees were arriving in a matter of weeks and would need to get into the ground right away.
At the end of a hard morning, a wassail was held to bless the orchard and wish for a bountiful crop. We drank cider and as is customary laid toast soaked in apple juice upon the trees. A poem was read by the Wassail King and we marched around the orchard after him shouting Wassail!, Wassail!, Wassail!
A variety of trees will be planted in the orchard to yield crop that can be used for eating, cooking, preserve making and cider. Bramley Apple Trees may well be some of the trees arriving as this is one of the oldest varieties in the UK dating back to 1806. It’s also the apple most used in baking because it has a higher acid content than most other apples and lower sugar levels. This means the strong, tangy flavour is retained during the cooking process.
In preparation for launch celebrations of the orchard, I have been practising apple recipes. I have mastered many types of cakes and bakes and wanted to challenge myself to something more daring and creative with more textures than sponge or crumble. So I decided to have a go at William Drabble’s Assiette of Apple. Could I make my version look as pretty as his?
Assiette of Apple from William Drabble - on Great British Chefs
I was rather daunted by the different elements. There’s a tarte tatin, a jelly, a mousse, a sorbet, caramel syrup and an apple crisp! I started with the Apple Jelly. I have a juicer so I was able to extract the juice directly from the apples but I tried a batch with an ordinary carton of apple juice and it worked just fine. I decided to use mini loaf tins as moulds.
Next on to the mousse which was quite a complex process but one I think I could now use with the apricots or berries which will also be grown in the orchard. The base is a fruit puree. You add egg yolks and gelatine to this and finally fold in Italian meringue. It was the lightest softest mousse I’ve ever made! It set beautifully in little ramekin moulds which I’d lined with cling film to turn out easily.
Onwards to the tart tatin which I had made many times before. I didn’t have any moulds as William suggests you use so I opted for 8cm tart tins. Next time I think I will line them with greaseproof paper as it was a sticky mess to try and flop the tatin out but nonetheless it was a pretty little circle upon which to stand my mousse.
I ran out of time at this point. My critics (Amber aged 9 and Amy aged 7) were licking their lips in anticipation so I decided to plate up with what I had. They concluded it was pretty and my husband concurred so I’m pretty chuffed with my cheffy masterpiece!
Blog post for Great British Chefs by Urvashi Roe.
How often do you cook with apples? What are your favourite dishes to make using them? If you've been apple picking or picked any other fruit from a farm or orchard, let us know about your experience there. Join our discussions on Great British Chefs Facebook Page