With the apple season well under way, my two recipes for you this month make use of one of our most well known and loved apples - The Bramley Seedling.
This world famous English apple, came in to being seemingly quite by accident. The story goes that around 1809 a family called Braisford lived in a cottage in Southwell, Nottinghamshire. The family had two daughters and their eldest daughter Mary Ann was playing in the kitchen,whilst her Mother was preparing some apples. Mary Ann took some of the seeds from these apples and planted the pips in a pot to see what would grow. One of the seeds germinated and when it got too big for the pot, they planted it in the cottage garden and the tree grew and produced this unique fruit. The fluke result was The Bramley Seedling.
Mathew Bramley , a Southwell Butcher bought the cottage including the tree in 1846. A local nurseryman named Henry Merryweather asked Mr Bramley if he could sell the apples from the famous tree, to which Mathew Bramley agreed, on the condition that the fruit should be named after him. The original tree is now over 200 years old and back in the 1990’s the University of Nottingham were carrying out research to produce cloned trees, identical replicas of the original tree.
To celebrate the 200th anniversary of the tree, a specially commissioned window was installed at Southwell Minster. In October there are many celebrations, not just in Southwell, but all over England to honour all things apple.
If you would like to find out more about apples, their heritage and events in Lincolnshire and beyond, there is a wonderful website called http://www.applesandorchards.org.uk/ there’s also information regarding East of England Apples and Orchards project.
My first recipe for you is for my Lincolnshire Sausage, Bramley, Onion and Potato Plait. This is a very hearty autumnal dish, which you could serve cold sliced up or portion it up to eat hot as part of a main meal. I first did a version of this dish well over thirty years ago at Gartree School, now Barnes Wallis Academy in Tattershall. Mrs Langley was our home economics teacher and her recipe was for a sausage and tomato plait. I still have the original recipe that she issued in class, it’s quite frightening that it was so long ago, that the paper has browned with age!
My second recipe is for my Individual Bramley Apple Spice Cakes. These are rustic and filling little cakes that are ideal for packed lunches. It is a super easy and quick recipe to make and they are really delicious. The spicing can be adjusted to your own taste and you can add a few drops of almond essence too if you like the flavour.
Lincolnshire Sausage, Bramley, Onion and Potato Plait.
Large baking tray, baking parchment to line tray, rolling pin, measuring jug, fork, pastry brush, sharp knife, pizza wheel (optional), tea spoon, chopping board, peeler, scales, ruler, flour shaker, cooling rack
800g good quality proper butchers Lincolnshire sausage meat
500g pack of puff pastry
2 local free range eggs, I used Fairburn’s, lightly beaten
1 large Bramley Apple
1 Lincolnshire Old Potato
2 Small white onions, I used 2 local ones just a bit bigger than shallots
2 good teaspoons of English mustard
Line your baking tray with parchment
Preheat oven to 180c fan
First of all cut your pastry block in half
Flour your worktop and roll your two rectangles into 40cm long by 20cm wide (15”long x 8”wide).
Divide your sausage meat into 4 x 200g portions.
Spread tsp of mustard down the middle of each rectangle.
Spread a layer of sausage meat on top of the mustard about 6 cm wide, leaving 3cm gap top and bottom on the pastry.
Peel your potato and onion and slice thinly, this is enough for both plaits.
Peel and core your apple and slice thinly, this is enough for both plaits.
You need to work quickly to avoid your apple browning, place a layer of apple on top of your sausage meat, going the full length.
Then a layer of onion and then a layer of potato.
Place the remaining sausage meat on top and cover the filling, gently pushing everything down.
Then you need to make slashes down the side of the pastry, you should get about 14 slashes at 1cm intervals. I use a pizza wheel for this as it doesn’t drag the pastry, but a sharp knife is fine.
Egg wash all around the pastry and now starting at the top, fold the flap of pastry down over the meat and filling and then fold the pastry strips over one another working your way alternately down to the bottom. Tuck the bottom bit of pastry over the filling.
Carefully lift onto your baking sheet and then glaze all over with egg
Repeat with your second plait
Put into your preheated oven and bake for 45min to 1 hour. The pastry should be nicely risen and a good deep golden brown.
If you are serving yours hot as part of a meal, just slide them onto a chopping board, still on the paper. Let them settle down a bit for ten minutes then slice up. You should get 8 generous portions from each plait. Should you be serving one cold, just leave to cool on a cooling rack, refrigerate and slice up when required. Will keep for 3 days chilled or can be frozen for 3 months.
Individual Bramley Apple Spice Cakes
Two muffin tins, 20 large cupcake cases, food processor, spoon, little bowl to weigh your ingredients in, serving spoon and knife, ½ tsp measuring spoon, Scales, Peeler, chopping board, sharp knife, cooling rack
1 Bramley Apple, chopped into little cubes
100g Self Raising Flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp mixed spice
¼ tsp ground ginger
125g ground almonds
175g caster sugar
150g unsalted butter
2 local free range eggs, I used Fairburns
125 ml semi skimmed milk
50g flaked almonds
Caster sugar to sprinkle on top
Runny Lincolnshire Honey (optional)
Preheat fan oven to 180c
Line 2 muffin tins with paper cases, you should get 16 to 20 cakes
Weigh Flour, baking powder, spices and sugar into food processor bowl fitted with standard blade.
Whizz up to mix all the dry ingredients together
Crack 2 eggs in to dry ingredients, then the butter which must be soft and then the milk
Whizz it all up again (I told you it was quick)
Take the blade out.
Quickly peel your apple and chop the sides off leaving the core and then cube up the apple. I do this now as it stops the apple going brown.
Gently mix through the chopped up apple into the cake batter.
Divide the mixture between the cases, put some water in some of the spare muffin tin holes as this will generate steam and help the rise.
Sprinkle the chopped almonds over the top and then a sprinkling of caster sugar
Put in the oven for 20 – 25min
Keep an eye on them as you don’t want the almonds to burn, they should be a dark golden brown colour because of all the spices and firm to the touch.
Put on cooling racks and if you like a bit of extra sweetness I poured a little bit of a honey drizzle on top of each one whilst the cakes are still hot.
When cold store in a tin, will last a couple of days, but I shouldn’t think they will hang about for long.
Sadie Hirst is a member of Select Lincolnshire and the British Society of Baking. She is a keen collector of old cookery books and recipes and is passionate about preserving our local food heritage. Sadie would love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can follow her on twitter Sadie Hirst@RJHirstfamilybutchers.
For all of Sadie’s previous Target recipes, please visit the recipe section of www.rjhirstfamilybutchers.co.uk