Does anyone else feel like they're done with summer? As soon as we got back from our holiday and hit back-to-school mode my thoughts turned to Autumn and beyond and I've spent much of the last week or two looking at winter clothes, planning a trip in December and even, I confess, thinking about Christmas. The arrival of a big pile of logs for the fire and the increasingly dark evenings aren't helping either.
I'm thinking more and more about autumn food aswell. After taking an unexplained sabbatical last year our two apple trees are now producing a bumper crop. I love cooking with apples (although peeling and coring them is one of my least favourite kitchen tasks) and I'm looking forward to plenty of apple cakes, crumbles and pies.
This recipe is one I've been meaning to make for years but never quite got around to, partly because the recipe includes a few tablespoons of cake crumbs and I rarely have these to hand. This time, however, an unsuccessful batch of cupcakes that got consigned to the freezer provided the missing ingredient and I had everything I needed.
The recipe is very simple, but delicious, and fills the kitchen with that lovely apple/cinnamon smell that will have you thinking about scuffing through autumn leaves and turning the clocks back before you can say "Bonfire Night".
(adapted from The Dairy Book of Home Cookery)
450g/1 lb cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 tbsp water (I found I needed a couple more tablespoons to stop the apple getting too dry)
25g/1 oz butter
50g/2 oz caster sugar
3 tbsp stale cake crumbs (plain cake is best)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 egg yolks
For the meringue topping
2 egg whites
100g/4oz caster sugar
1) Put the apples, water and butter into a saucepan and cook until soft and pulpy, then beat until smooth.
2) Add the sugar, cake crumbs, cinnamon and egg yolks and beat well. Transfer to a 900ml/1 1/2 pint ovenproof dish.
3) To make the meringue, beat the egg whites in a large bowl until stiff and peaky. Add half the caster sugar and beat until the meringue is shiny and stands in firm peaks. Add the remaining caster sugar and beat until the meringue is very stiff and silky-looking and the texture is fairly close. Cover the apple mixture with the meringue.
4) Bake at 150c/300f/gas mark 2 for 30 minutes or until the meringue is light gold. Serve with fresh double cream.