Picking Season…Endlessly so…

The end of summer holidays is rounded with what’s now become a tradition (well, for the last two years) of a visit to the local pick-your-own farm.  This time the nephew and niece had friends along, peanut-sized friends but a great help with the low hanging fruits.

We hauled back home the first of the Discovery apples, the plums, the very last raspberries and of course the inevitable stuff from the farm shop.  Needless to say the raspberries were eaten before we got to the till, despite the clear sign which said ‘all produce must be paid for before being eaten’!!  We felt so naughty for doing it but thrilled at the same time!! I joined in, but blame it on their influence.

Discovery apples are sweet, juicy and firm, all the things you need for this cake.  To moderate the sweetness, I have added Bramley apples from a friend’s garden.

Apple, Honey and Tea Cake

This cake is delicately spiced, moist, has a toffee-like sweetness that contrasts perfectly with the occasional tartness of the cooking apples.  The original recipe uses coffee; I have used Ceylon Black tea instead.  The tea is strong enough to be noticed and allows the flavours of the apple and honey to come though.  I made 12 muffins of which I froze half.  I have found them ideal for breakfasts-on-the-go or for elevenses (with a cup of tea, obviously!)

Makes 12 muffins and 2 small loaf cakes, 23cm by 11cm or 2 large loaf cakes 32cm by 14cm

Ingredients

240ml/8.5fl oz/1 cup of mild oil, such as grapeseed or safflower and a little more for the pans.

500g/18oz/4 cups plain flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

¾ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

340g/12oz/1 cup of caramelised or dark honey, such as chestnut (I use Larkswood Honey; https://www.facebook.com/larkswoodhoney/) or sourwood.

200g/7oz/1 cup sugar

4 medium eggs

340g/ ¾ pounds tart or a combination of sweet and tart apples (about 2 large apples).  Good varieties to start with are Discovery, Granny Smith and Bramley but you could experiment with whatever you have available. The apples need to be cored and grated on the large holes of a box grater.  I keep the skin on as there is so much flavour in this.

240ml/8.5fl oz/1 cup hot Ceylon black tea. 3 teabags (brew for 7/8 minutes)

 

Method

Preheat the oven to 170°C (conventional oven)/325°F/gas mark 3. Place muffin cases into muffin pans and oil the loaf pans (whichever ones you are using)

In a large bowl, mix the plain flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cloves together.  I rarely sift dry ingredients, as long as they are not stale and stored to retain their freshness.  Using a bowl large enough means that you will have lots of room to thoroughly fork the ingredients together. This will help mix all the ingredients well and incorporate some air.

In a larger bowl, whisk together the oil, honey, sugar, eggs and grated apples.  The oil makes the job of whisking a really easy one, ensuring the eggs and honey are well mixed.

Fold in a quarter of the flour mix to the egg mix, followed by a quarter of the tea. Repeat folding alternating between the flour and tea, until all the flour mix and tea are incorporated into the mixture. Keep the mixture smooth, as this will give best results.

Spoon the batter equally between either your 12 muffin cases and or your 2 loaf tins.

Bake the muffins and smaller loaf tins for 15 minutes, turn the trays round and bake for a further 10 mins.

If baking in larger loaf tins, bake for 35 minutes, turn and switch the trays round and bake for a further 15 minutes.

The cakes are baked when an inserted wooden toothpick comes out almost clean (although the cake is moist so a few crumbs may stick to the toothpick). Another sign of a properly baked cake is when its edges come away from the muffin cases and/or trays.

Let the muffins and/or loaves cool completely in the pans on a wire rack.  If you are freezing them, slice the loaves and wrap the muffins and/or slices with grease-proof paper and cling film. They can be kept in the freezer for a month.

Cracks in all the right places!!

Muffins were enjoyed a day later as part of a picnic

If you freeze the Apple, Honey and Tea Cake,  slide a few slices out of the freezer and pop into the toaster for breakfast or elevenses