Choosing apple trees
We planted fruit trees almost ten years ago high up on our homestead and they’ve never fruited. Then, around three years ago, I bought Mr G a self pollinating variety on the advice of Arboretum garden centre manager Eamon Wall, an expert in the field of fruit growing. For the first time this year we’re seeing apples growing in our garden, branches bending, heavy with fruit, and we’re thrilled.
Lack of pollination
Apple trees can struggle above 600ft for various reasons including lack of pollinators, harsh winds and early frosts that damage the buds and at over 1,000ft we’ve not had much success with them. To be honest, we’d bought popular, cheap varieties (whispers not from a garden centre) when we should have looked for heirlooms or those more suited to our conditions, perhaps from Irish Seedsavers who have a fantastic collection. We have however, spotted some plums and pears growing on the older trees this year so we’re glad we haven’t given up on them. Perhaps it was thanks to our new bees, or simply that we had a mild winter followed by a dreamy summer here in Ireland, but this year we’re appreciating our new fruity treat.
As the leaves turn golden
our my mind turns to fruity puddings and cake. I was given this recipe for apple cake a few years ago by a friend and have mentioned it before but we enjoy it so much thought you might like to be reminded again. It’s delicious hot or cold, on its own or with cream. If you prefer a crumble topping with your apples, here’s a plum crumble recipe that’s topped with oats, nuts and syrup, just swap the plums for the new season apples.
If you don’t have apple trees in your garden, perhaps you could ask friends and neighbours who might have them and exchange them for a cake, a great way to open up a conversation. This isn’t the best photo I could have taken of it, but the cake was gone before I had time to snap a better photo!
Ingredients for Apple Cake Recipe:
190 g self-raising flour
150g butter or half margarine
1 free range egg
75g caster sugar
2 tbsp apricot jam
2 tbsp granulated or Demerara sugar
Heat oven to 160°C then grease and line a 20 cm cake tin which should be at least 7.5 cm deep.
Cream the butter and caster sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg. Sieve the flour and salt then fold in to the creamed mixture.
Using a lightly floured board, gently pat or roll out three-quarters of the mixture and fit into the prepared tin (warning – very sticky. Cover hands in flour and ensure hands are very clean first and take off any rings!)
Peel, core and slice the apples and squeeze lemon over the top to keep their colour. Arrange the apples on top of the cake mixture. Heat the jam and brush or pour over the apples. Take the remaining cake mixture, roll out and either cut into strips and make place over the apples in a lattice fashion or roll flat and place over whole. Sprinkle the sugar over the top.
Bake in the middle of the oven for 1 hour. Cool on a rack and dust with icing sugar.
Hope you enjoy the cake as much as we do. Do you have a favourite seasonal apple recipe? I baked another cake recently that was just a simple sponge recipe with chopped apples added to the batter, delicious!