AW16 Apples

Autumn has arrived, and with it a ramped up yearning for comfort, soft spices and simple style.

This time of year either fills people with dread or delight. I'm firmly in the latter camp, and once there's a nip in the air, I get full on kitchen fever. Top of my list:

  • buttery girolles on toast (my favourite seasonal starter at the restaurant. A pain to prep, but worth very bite).
  • all things squash related (can't resist their bright, burnished colours)
  • jerusalem artichokes (roasted and caramelised, they make the best base for hearty salads) 

But if there's one flavour that encapsulates autumn, for me it's apples: understated, classic and hugely versatile. Baked, roasted or stewed -  they achieve timeless appeal by cleverly performing stylistic doublespeak. What else tastes of childhood nostalgia while simultaneously evoking an unassumingly grown-up elegance?

Feeding my autumn fetish this week, I couldn't resist this apple cake (delicious warm, but possibly even better the next day with a coffee). Based on a Genius recipe from the Food52 cookbook, I made a few tweaks: brown sugar for caramel tones, a touch of cinnamon and copious flaked almonds to adorn the top. But when I'm feeling even lazier than this, my go-to autumn fix is this pared-down dessert: maple baked apples. Autumn style at its best.

Effortless comfort. Utterly gezellig.

Maple Baked Apples {serves 4}

25g butter

4 small bramley apples

1 small handful pecan nuts, lightly broken

2-3tbsp chopped dates

4-6 tbsp maple syrup

75ml apple juice, masala or water (at a push)

  1. Preheat the oven to 170C.
  2. Grease a small ovenproof dish with a little of the butter.
  3. Core the apples, then score a line round the middle of each apple with a sharp knife. This will help the apples hold their shape, rather than bursting out of their skins while cooking.
  4. Place the apples in the oven proof dish and stuff the empty holes left by the cores with a mixture of pecan bits and dates. Drizzle the maple syrup over each apple, then pour the juice/masala/water into the bottom of the dish.
  5. Scatter each apple with a few bits of butter, then place the dish in the oven for about 45 minutes, or until soft through. After 20 minutes of cooking, check the apples every so often and top up with a little liquid if necessary (you should be left with a reduced syrup by the end of cooking).

serve with double cream