Monday, 13 August 2007
Seasons Through the Eye of an Orchard
Where we live, we are surrounded by orchards. We walk through them pretty much on a daily basis with our border collie Jess. It is really the ideal place to live and the perfect place to walk a rambunctious collie.
I get to observe the seasons passing on our daily walks, and it's amazing to watch it all changing every time we walk though ... right from the glorious sea of pink blossoms in the early spring to the heavily laden branches in the autumn. Right now they are somewhere in between, but that doesn't stop me from dreaming of all that is to come.
My husband assures me that there is a rule over here which means that drops are ours for the picking and pick we do. They are lovely ... big tart Bramley cooking apples that are fantastic in apple pies, Cox's Pippins, just great for eating, Granny Smith's which are good for both! There are also beautiful conference pears that look like they are ready to pick right about now. Things seem earlier this year for some reason.
When I lived in Canada, throughout the years my children were growing up, I used to make several batches of delicious spicyApple Butter every year, along with countless jars of crabapple jelly, and plastic margarine tubs full of applesauce to put into the freezer. In the long cold winter months they were a delicious taste of autumn, which my sight and senses tell me is just around the corner.
*Applesauce Spice Cake*
Serves 10 to 12
This is a lovely cake that the whole family will enjoy. Deliciously moist and full of the wonderful flavour of spice, studded with soft raisins and crunchy walnuts, this truly is a joy to bake and to eat. The smell of this when it is baking is truly heavenly!
2 ½ cups plain flour
1 cups caster sugar
2 cups unsweetened applesauce
½ cup vegetable shortening such as Trex, White Flora or Crisco
½ cup water
2 large eggs, beaten
1 ½ tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup chopped toasted walnuts
1 cup sultantas
FOR THE ICING:
¾ cup of softened butter
5 cups icing sugar, sifted
¼ cup milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp lemon essence
Pre-heat the oven to 180*C/350*F. Lightly grease and flour a 9 by 15 inch baking pan and set aside.
Sift together the flour, soda, baking powder, salt, spices and sugar into a large bowl. Drop in the shortening, applesauce, water and eggs. Beat it all together with an electric mixer until it is all smooth, beating well. Fold in the sultanas and walnuts. Spread evenly in the prepared pan.
Bake for approximately 34 to 40 minutes or until lightly browned and the top springs back when lightly touched. Alternately you may use a toothpick to see if it is done, which when inserted will come out clean.
Remove from the oven and place in the pan on a wire rack to cool completely.
Once completely cool make the frosting. Beat the butter until light and fluffy and then beat in the remaining ingredients, beating until smooth and fluffy. Spread evenly across the top of the cake. (leave the cake in the pan and serve from there) If you want you can sprinkle more toasted walnuts over the top of the finished cake.