Taste the Season with British Apples and Pears:
Apple, Bramble & Pear Tray Bake Recipe
I LOVE autumn, it’s my favourite season by far, and one of the reasons I am so in tune with the season, apart from the glorious foliage, is the abundance of produce that is available now…….pumpkins, walnuts, cobnuts, squash, quince, blackberries, elderberries, cabbages of all shapes and sizes, onions, shallots, sprouts, carrots, leeks as well as two of my favourite fruits, apples and pears. Without getting into a deep debate, for me, the best apples and pears are British – we are a nation of orchard fruit growers and our climate is prefect for producing these two delicious fruits. Not only do we have the perfect climate, but we also have a multitude of different varieties, in fact over 17,000 apple varieties have been catalogued throughout history…….old fashioned names from my childhood spring to mind, and I remember eating apples such as Worcester Pearmain, Beauty of Bath, Egremont Russet, Crispin, Laxton’s Superb, Blenheim Orange and Catshead Cookers, which are brilliant cooking apples that my grandmother used to have in her garden. Some of these apples are very hard to source now, although there is a resurgence in resurrecting old orchards; but, I am pleased to say that all is not lost, as I have recently discovered that not only can I find some of these lesser known and old British varieties at my local farmer’s Markets, but I have also found them in Sainsbury’s supermarket too. In fact, Sainsbury’s has just been officially listed as the no.1 supermarket for British apples and pears, which is GREAT news……..
……..plus, they are Bramley Retailer of the Year – being the only supermarket to stock apples descended from the original Bramley apple. So, amongst the trays of Cox’s Orange Pippins, which incidentally are my favourite apple, you will also find Egremont Russet, Worcester, Charles Ross as well as Bramleys and Cox’s. I was also pleased to see British pears too, and I was able to buy some Conference and Comice pears in my local branch.
Apples and pears are the mainstay of the lunch box, and with good reason; they are the perfect snack and well as being healthy, who doesn’t love that first bite into a crisp, juicy apple or tender, scented pear……..one of my earliest memories is sitting in my grandparents garden, on an old wooden bench that was built AROUND the apple tree, and biting into a succulent, juicy apple…….sweets and chocolate were a weekly treat on Saturdays in those days; so, apples, as well as pears, were our daily desserts or snacks, and we were also allowed to pick them ourselves – how very grown-up! I also remember that alongside a tangerine, a new shilling and a bag of chocolate money at the bottom of my Christmas stocking, I would always have an apple, a Cox’s Orange Pippin, my favourite apple – sweetly scented, crunchy and tangy, and often eaten in the dark on Christmas morning with the weight of my “yet to be explored” stocking on my feet.……that simple pleasure still resonates with me today, when I enjoy an apple or pear as a mid-afternoon snack. And, one of my favourite meals is a Ploughman’s Lunch – served with a Cox’s Orange Pippin and all the other “trimmings” such as chutney or pickle, cheese, tomato and crusty bread of course…..
But back to my recent apple and pear tasting session! I managed to pick up several types of British apples and pears at my local Sainsbury’s recently, and my orchard booty comprised: Cox’s Orange Pippins, Royal Gala, Gala, Bramley apples, Conference and Comice pears. It was my plan to eat most of the fruit as a healthy snack, as well as with a ploughman’s lunch as you can see above, but I also wanted to create a seasonal recipe to showcase these British orchard fruits, and what better than an Apple, Bramble & Pear Tray Bake. Not only did I make this delectable tray bake with both apples and pears, for a combination of textures and flavours, but I threw in another seasonal fruit, the humble hedgerow blackberry – a natural partner for my apples and pears. This recipe is half cake and half pudding, and it was devoured with gusto when I placed in on the table the other day! I initially served it as a hot pudding, with a goodly dollop of cream, but I imagine that a creamy custard or rich vanilla ice cream would also be a perfect pairing. It’s easy to make and as I discovered, it freezes well too, making it a handy supper pudding to whip out when time is at a premium.
If you don’t have any fresh blackberries, then frozen berries, or even tinned will do, and with the British apple and pear season in full swing now, there will be no problem sourcing good home-grown fruits. Don’t forget Apple Day on the 21st October; this annual celebration of apple, orchards and local distinctiveness is a great excuse to buy, eat and cook with local apples, as well as pears. Initiated by Common Ground in 1990 it has since been celebrated each year by people organising hundreds of local events, including Apple Tree Dressing! I wonder if any of Sainsbury’s Concept Orchards will be dressed this year, with Britain’s traditional apple and pear orchards dwindling in recent years, they launched a pioneering idea called Concept Orchards in 2006. They now have four orchards in Kent, where new growing methods and varieties are trialled, giving British apple and pear production a much-needed boost. I may dress my apple and pears trees, as well as my quince tree too……I’ll let you know if I do and post photos with a new apple recipe!
Talking of fruit trees, I will have to run along now, as I still have a mountain of fruit to pick and preserve; and I also want to preserve some of the pears I bought recently, and this is the recipe I will be using as my thoughts turn towards Christmas and the festive season: Spiced Mulled Pears in a Jar…………..
………the recipe for my Apple, Bramble & Pear Tray Bake Recipe is below; and please do check out my other apple and pear recipes – I have several on the blog, including my Old Fashioned Scottish Apple and Ginger Chutney, Apple Scones and Harvest Apple Cake, Pear, Goat’s Cheese and Walnut Muffins.……..more recipes can be found here: Apple Recipes. That’s all for now, do call back later, as I have a new giveaway, some more travellers notes and some new recipes! Karen