Sunday, 30 November 2008

Making & Baking

Today was designated 'Homecraft Sunday', a day for baking our new-season Christmas cakes, and a chance to make a small impression on the troublesome 'Welland Valley Bramley Apple Mountain' (visible from space apparently!). Bramley Apples have very high levels of Malic Acid, and are therefore very difficult to make really good cider from, so we prefer to use them in pies, crumbles and cakes. Unfortunately, this year's poor weather has resulted in apples which are a little too scabby to keep well through the Winter, and it's therefore a race against time before they succumb to rot, fit only for the compost heap.

Karen and I both loves mince pies, who doesn't! For me, it's Karen's mammoth mince pie baking sessions, filling the house with their sweet and spicy aroma, which kick-starts the whole festive season. I do my bit by making the mincemeat... and eating the pies obviously!

This year I've used a recipe from The Big Apple's 3rd collection of Apple & Cider, Pear & Perry Recipes, a terrific little booklet produced by the Big Apple Association, 'a Herefordshire based group dedicated to promoting English orchards, apples and cider'. I've tweaked the recipe slightly, we like our mincemeat slightly sweeter than they do in Herefordshire.

900g Bramley Apples
Juice and grated peel of an orange and a lemon
500g mixed dried fruit
175g muscovado sugar
100g butter
1tsp cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
1tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
300ml cider
5tbsp cider brandy

Grate the apples and add everything else to a pan except the brandy. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for an hour. When thick and pulpy add the brandy, stir well and spoon into sterilised jars.

In the absence of any of our own I used a bottle of Henny's Vintage Still Cider, and topped it off with a drop of Zapiain Sagardoz, a rare cider brandy from Spain's Basque region. Is it too early for a batch of mince pies I wonder...

No comments: