Foxwhelp, Hockings Green, Lord of the Isles, Snell's White, Sops in Wine, Pig's Snout... Once, more than 2,000 varieties of apple dotted the English Isles, with all their peculiar names and particular uses. In Australia, we can buy perhaps a dozen varieties at the markets, perhaps twenty. Another hundred or so varieties are available as saplings from specialist orchards. But what happened to all the rest?
Loss of diversity makes me sad, so I have planted five old varieties in my backyard: Cats head, Beauty of Bath, Cornish Aromatic, Peasgood's Nonesuch, and Sweetman. While I wait for them to bear fruit, I make pudding. And I love old English puddings, with their odd names and not-so-sweet flavours. This week, we had apple dappy: a scone dough rolled around apples, sliced, and baked in lemon syrup. Any tendency to stodginess is offset by the spirals of apple and the tang of lemon; a truly comforting dessert.
For the syrup:
For the pudding:
Preheat the oven to 190C.
Peel, core and chop the apples and place in a pan with a splash of water. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes or until slightly softened. Leave to cool.
Place the lemon juice, zest, golden syrup, butter and sugar into a small pan with 200ml water. Heat gently, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Turn off the heat and leave to cool.
Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture looks crumbly. Make a well, and pour in all the milk at once. Use a knife to mix*, then turn the dough onto a floured bench and knead lightly until combined. Gently pat into a 20cm square, about ½ cm thick.
Spread the apples over the dough, and dust with sugar and spice. Gently roll up the pastry like a Swiss roll. Cut into 2.5cm slices, and arrange them spiral-up in a buttered dish. I get eight slices, which fit nicely into a 15cm x 25cm pan.
Pour the lemon syrup over the slices, and bake for half an hour or until puffed and golden. Serve with cream.
It occurs to me that a handful of chopped walnuts sprinkled over the top might be a nice addition. If I try it, I'll let you know.
*For a discussion on how to handle scone dough, click here.
(Local: apples, lemon, milk. Not local: golden syrup, butter, sugar, flour, baking powder, cinnamon.)