Tuesday, 17 July 2012

thoughts on the great british washout and a recipe for english apple cake

the summer of twenty-twelve will be preserved in my memory as ‘the great british wash-out’. the only constant thus far has been a weepy sky whose sobs vary to the tune of a sub-continental monsoon and the more traditional sheath of moisture that is british rain. my appetite vacillates between foods that comfort and salads that are a riot of bright colours. it is therefore not surprising that last night’s supper was a salad of feta, arugula and baby spinach brightened by the sunny disposition of strawberries, their sweetness pronounced by cubes of salty feta. i scattered over some roughly chopped toasted hazelnuts to add a little bite.

the very summery salad was finished with an obviously autumnal ‘english apple cake’. the great british washout made it appropriate for me to make nigel slater’s english apple cake. never mind that it appears in the kitchen diaries in october, a time when autumn is on the cusp of winter and the sun has started losing its warmth. i had to re-work the recipe a bit as i didn’t have all the ingredients. the final result was a moist shallow cake. the sprinkle of soft brown sugar tasted like a faint caramel. the zest of a lemon gave each mouthful a clean sharpness, much like the hard silver edges that surround objects in the same direction as a bright summer sun. my yoga teachers often talk about being light and sunny on the inside even if it is grey and rainy on the outside.

i wonder if recreating summer in my food is a manifestation of that.

{english apple cake}
adapted from nigel slater’s recipe in the kitchen diaries

one hundred and thirty grams butter
one hundred and thirty grams soft brown sugar
four ‘eating’ apples
the juice of half a lemon
half a teaspoon ground cinnamon
two tablespoons soft brown sugar
two eggs
one hundred and thirty grams plain flour
a teaspoon baking powder
zest of a lemon
extra soft brown sugar

pre-heat the oven to one hundred and eight degrees celsius. butter a square baking tin.

cream together the butter and brown sugar till light and fluffy.

peel and cut the apples into small chunks, removing the cores as you go along. toss the apples with the lemon juice, ground cinnamon and two tablespoons of sugar.

beat the eggs into the creamed butter and sugar. then sift in the flour and baking powder incorporating them into the wet mixture. fold the zest and the spiced apples into the batter. scrape the batter into the buttered baking tin and sprinkle the surface with the extra brown sugar.

bake for thirty-five to forty minutes until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean. leave it to cool for ten minutes or so before turning it out.

eat warm.   

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