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Apple Time Is Here Again! Part 3

Contributor:
Sabine Schneider
Sabine Schneider

Continuing the series of apple cake recipes I've hopped over the border of my native Germany to neighbouring Belgium. They do wicked cakes, those Flemings! And don't miss my little rant about vanilla at the end of the recipe.

 

Apples are not just good for baking. Did you know that apples have been used for healing and beautifying purposes since ancient times? Like some other medicines, apples can have opposite effects depending on their preparation. For example, if you want to stop diarrhoea, eat finely grated apples; if you want to stop constipation, eat the apple whole. (I better cover my backside by saying that in cases of severe diarrhoea or constipation you should consult a health professional straight away.)

But shooh - unpleasantness away...

Before I present you with another of my favourite apple cake recipes, here's a little gem my grandmother knew: This is sensational if you're tired and stressed, but you have to be at a do in half an hour where you're supposed to look glowing and fresh. Grate half a cored and peeled apple finely. Mix one tablespoon of grated apple with two tablespoons of rosewater (Mediterranean food shop). Gently rub into your face and neck. Relax for 15 minutes, then wash off.

 

Apple cake from Belgium (Flanderen)

1 3/4 cups (220g) flour

120g butter

4 tbsp (60g) sugar

1 egg yolk

1kg apples

juice of 1 lemon

Cream:

1 cup milk

1 cup cream

100g butter

3 1/2 tbsp vanilla sugar*

2 eggs

2 egg yolks

7 tbsp cornflour

Grease and crumb (or line, if you can be bothered) a springform.

Place the first 4 ingredients on a chopping board and chop with a knife until it resembles breadcrumbs or place in food processor and blitz to a firm dough.

Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 190deg.

Peel and core apples, cut them into slices. Sprinkle with lemon juice to prevent discoloration.

Roll out dough and line the springform. Pull the dough up at the edges (just a little).

Fan the apple slices out on top of the dough.

For the topping take ½ cup of the cold milk and mix it with the cornflour, sugar, eggs and egg yolk. Set aside. In a saucepan bring milk, cream and butter to a boil. Pull from the element. Whisk in the cornflour mix. Stir until thick and creamy. Cool slightly, pour over dough and apples. Sprinkle lightly with sugar. Bake for 45 minutes or until done.

 

* Pleeeeeeze don't use that horrid stuff called vanilla essence. We've been trained to associate "yummy sweet" with it, but it's actually a synthetic 4-hydroxy-3-methoxybenzaldehyde and that doesn't sound so yummy, does it?

I can smell it from miles away and it makes me want to run away screaming. It kills not only our tastebuds, it also taints any decent bikkie, cake or icecream. We can't help if food factories put that crap into everything sweet, but we can ban it from our kitchen.

If you must use liquid vanilla, then at least buy natural vanilla extract. It's expensive if you don't make it yourself (if you do want to make it yourself, read here). However, vanilla sugar is easy to do and much cheaper.

Don't know about vanilla sugar? Try this: Buy yourself a glass of vanilla beans. They're available in the spice section of just about every supermarket and cost anything from $7-$16.

Take them out of their little phiole and put them into an empty clean jam jar. Fill with ordinary or caster sugar. From now on until all eternity this is where your vanilla pods will live.

Every time you use up some of the sugar you should refill and shake the jar. If a recipe calls for the scraped-out seeds of a vanilla bean, cut your bean open, scrape out the seeds and use, but DON'T throw away the pod.

Even if you have cooked the pod in milk or custard, wash it, dry it and put it back in its jar. The beans - and even the "empty" pods - will flavour your sugar until your grandchildren have grown up. So it's not as expensive as you thought, ey?

 

My fellow blogger Dallas Boyd has commented further down and added a wonderful website with lots of information about vanilla. Go here and read about it. Thanks, Dallas!

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