Tag Archives: Apple

Pork sausage & cider crumble

Food photography 101 goes something like this: pretty food + natural light + proper camera = mouthwatering photos.  The formula for this post’s photos went more like this: unpresentable food + rapidly fading natural light (aka half dark) + iPhone = photos that not even Photoshop can redeem.  I more or less set myself up to fail though.  Crumble isn’t the easiest thing to serve up and the resulting mess is generally not very photogenic, particularly when there’s meat involved and everything is varying shades of brown.  Oh and I also wanted to eat dinner at a vaguely normal time, which happens to coincide with sunset at the moment, instead of 17h when the light would have been good.  Shocking, I know.

Pork sausage & cider crumble 1

I came down with one of those feverish change-of-season colds over the weekend, so I was feeling a bit sorry for myself and craving comfort food.  The classic combination of pork and apple had been playing on my mind, but I didn’t quite feel up to faffing around with pastry and making a pie.  So I threw together a pork sausage & cider crumble instead, as you do.  It sounds totally fancy-pants, but it’s ridiculously easy and makes for a hearty main course.  Despite its appearance, it also happens to be totally delicious – with bacon strips, apple pieces and lashings of garlic also chucked in there, how could it not be?

Pork sausage & cider crumble 2

Baking with SpiritCider is the special ingredient for this month’s Baking with Spirit, so I’m submitting this crumble to Janine over at Cake of the Week, who launched this genius challenge a year ago!  (A year already?  What?!)  If you’ve a sudden inspiration to bake something with cider, whether sweet or savoury, I think you’ve got until Saturday to enter.

Pork sausage & cider crumble 3

Ya, I don’t really want to talk about that photo.

Pork sausage & cider crumble

Serves 3-4
Recipe by Sharky Oven Gloves

There’s a lot of room for adjustment in this recipe.  Use whatever good quality pork sausages you feel like – pork and fennel?  Go for it.  Pork and apple?  Sounds amazing.  I used a pretty light-flavoured cider because that’s what we had at home, but a heavily-flavoured cider would probably be even better.  Use your favourite kind of cheddar, as long as it’s flavourful.  If you think the cider is still too liquidy before adding the crumble, sprinkle a little flour over the top first.


For the filling:
100g bacon strips/cubes/lardons
4 cloves garlic
Drizzle extra virgin olive oil
4 pork sausages (about 370g; I used Black Rock traditional pork sausages)
1 apple (I used Braeburn, Granny Smith would also be good)
Black pepper
About 250ml cider (I used Boundary Road Brewery Honesty Box cider)

For the crumble:
65g cheddar (I used Kind Island Surprise Bay cheddar)
75g unsalted butter, softened
70g wholewheat flour
45g all-purpose flour
2-3 sprigs of thyme
Salt & black pepper


Prepare the filling:
1.  Preheat the oven to 220°C/fan oven 200°C.

2.  Remove any huge bits of fat from the bacon strips/cubes/lardons.  Peel the garlic gloves and finely dice.  Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, add the bacon and garlic and fry until golden.

3.  Meanwhile, cut each sausage into 4 rounds and place standing up in an ovenproof dish with a little space (about 1 cm) between each piece of sausage.  Scatter the garlicky bacon between the sausage rounds.  Peel and dice the apple into the 1cm pieces, and scatter over the top of the bacon, between the sausages or over the top, depending on how much space you have in your dish.  Season with freshly ground pepper, then pour the cider over the top, stopping 1cm from the top of the dish.

4.  Bake for 25-30 mins, until lightly browned on top.

Prepare the crumble:
5.  Meanwhile, prepare the crumble.  Roughly grate the cheddar into a medium-sized bowl.  Cube the butter into the same bowl, followed by the flours and some salt and freshly ground pepper.  Wash and dry the thyme sprigs, then strip the leaves, adding them to the bowl.  Rub the mixture together with your fingers, until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

6.  Sprinkle the crumble mixture over the top of the filling, then bake for a further 30-35 mins, until golden and a little crispy on top.  Serve immediately, accompanied with a side salad and a glass of cider.




Filed under Recipes, Savoury Foods

Apple flamusse

Apple say what now?  Flamusse aux pommes is a Burgundian speciality.  Now, to be perfectly honest, I’m from a region right next to Burgundy and had never heard of a flamusse aux pommes until last weekend when I happened to be flicking through my trusty Larousse des desserts for ideas on how to make a slight apple surplus disappear.  Turns out that it’s effectively an apple clafoutis.

Apple flamusse 1

I added spices because A) I am pretty much incapable of baking without spices, particularly in winter, and B) it’s actually a crime not to pair apples with spices – I mean come on, apples are just crying out for cinnamon at the very least.  Since I’ve never eaten apple flamusse before, I’ve no idea how “traditional” this recipe is.  Frankly, I’m not particularly bothered because the results were marvellous, and it’s not my regional speciality that I’m messing with, so I’m not fiercely protective of it.  There was a terribly French, rather insouciant shrug happening whilst I wrote the latter part of that sentence.

Apple flamusse 2

AlphaBakesThis month’s special letter for the AlphaBakes challenge, which is being hosted by Caroline Makes, is “F.”  F for flamusse – how convenient!  That’s actually one of the reasons I ended up settling on this recipe – there are so many apple recipes out there that I was having a hard time choosing which one to try out.  It ended up being a rather excellent choice and came out scrumptiously delicious, provided you like flan-like textures (I know not everybody is into that sort of egginess).  Some rum-soaked raisins would no doubt make an excellent addition – I didn’t test that theory out as I didn’t think that would be quite appropriate for a Tuesday morning at the lab…

Apple flamusse 3

Apple flamusse

Serves 6-8
Adapted from Le Larousse des desserts


Pick a type of apple that will hold its shape when baking but isn’t too sweet – I used braeburns.  The flamusse can be served either warm or fully cooled, and will keep for a day or two.


4 apples (I used braeburn)
75g caster sugar
60g all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
Pinch of salt
3 eggs
500ml whole milk
Icing sugar, to serve


1.  Butter a 24cm round fluted tart tin.  Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C.

2.  Peel and core the apples and finely slice them.  Lay the slices in overlapping concentric rings in the tart tin.  I like to alternate the direction of the apple slices from ring to ring, but that’s just personal preference.

3.  Sift the sugar, flour, spices and salt into a large mixing bowl.  In a small bowl, whisk the eggs together with a fork.  Add to the dry ingredients and mix with a spatula until completely smooth.  Stir in the milk a little at a time.

4.  Carefully pour the mixture over the apples (do this near the oven as the tin will be pretty full) and bake for about 45 mins until golden and cooked (if it looks really wibbly-wobbly, bake a little longer).  Allow to cool for 15-20 mins before turning out onto a plate (make sure you do it whilst the flamusse is still warm).  Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve warm or fully cooled.



Filed under Recipes, Sweet Foods

Apple & pecan streusel cake

There’s something about seeing boats and the sea that always soothes me, whether the sea is calm or stormy, and if I ever feel a bit down and just need to get outside, I tend to seek out a view of the ocean.  This was easy enough in St Andrews, where there was only a squat church and some rather high cliffs that separated the end of my street and the sea.  I was spoilt – there were plenty stunning sea views around town, and most of them no more than a 5 minute walk from my flat, if that.  Here in Auckland, I’m not quite as lucky, but the Viaduct harbour is a 15 minute walk from my flat, and full of beautiful yachts, so I can’t complain too much.  This weekend I happened to be near the harbour as the sun was setting, so I headed over for a wander around (incidentally, there are restaurants and bars around the harbour, so there are always people around and it feels quite safe to hang around even in the evenings).

I hadn’t realised that I’d been feeling quite so down until I got to the harbour and watched the sun set over the gorgeous yachts.  Feeling more at peace (and having satisfied my Instagram addiction for the day), I headed home and baked, just to reinforce my improved mood.  I find the process of creating something scrumptious out of butter, flour, sugar, eggs and a few added extras really therapeutic (well, when it works… which isn’t always the case).  The only problem with baking to cheer myself up is that, whilst I do have a sweet tooth, there’s no way I can eat an entire batch of cupcakes or a whole cake all by myself before they go stale (except that Greek yoghurt and honey cake, which provided me with breakfast for several days, thanks to the syrup that kept it moist and flavourful).  Luckily the issue is easily solved by bringing surplus baked goods into the lab, and they get polished off rather quickly.

My post-harbour baking choice was an apple and pecan streusel cake, a fantastic autumnal combination made with the last of the season’s apples (actually, I think the season might have just ended here, so I guess we’re now getting the stragglers that were hanging out in storage).  I love pecans, but sadly they tend to be a little expensive, so I hoard them whenever they’re on sale (which is how I happened to have 325g of pecans lying around).  The cake itself is moist thanks to the apples, with a bit of crunch running through it due to the pecans, and topped off more pecans in the form of a crunchy pecan and brown sugar streusel topping (I never said it was a healthy cake).  I really think it’s the topping that makes this cake so special.  Some of the topping fell off the cake in transport (although more of it stayed intact than I was expecting), and once all the cake was gone, fingers were surreptitiously dipping into the cake tin to pick up remaining bits of topping.  The tin was exceptionally clean by the time we were done…

Apple & pecan streusel cake

Makes about 25 squares
Adapted from Bubby’s Brunch Cookbook

This cake makes a wonderful afternoon snack, accompanied by a cup of tea or coffee, and is delicious served both warm or cold.  It would also work very well with walnuts instead of pecans (the original recipe actually uses walnuts).  The cake will keep for a few days in an airtight container.


For the streusel topping:
150g pecans
110g light brown sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
Pinch of salt
15g unsalted butter

For the cake:
100g caster sugar
100g light brown sugar
312g all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp cinnamon
Pinch of salt
175g pecans
2 large apples
225g unsalted butter
4 medium eggs
250ml (230g) sour cream
1 tbsp vanilla extract


1.  Line a 22 x 30 cm baking tin with baking paper (or if you don’t have such a large tin, use a 19 x 25 cm baking tin and a 9 x 20 cm loaf tin).  Preheat the oven to 175°C.

2.  Prepare the streusel topping.  Roughly chop the pecans and mix them together in a medium mixing bowl with the sugar, cinnamon and salt.  Rub the butter into the mixture with your fingertips until crumbly.  Set aside.

3.  In a small bowl, combine the two sugars for the cake.  In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and salt.  Set both aside.  Roughly chop the pecans and dice the apple into 1cm pieces.  Set aside.

4.  Using an electric mixer at medium speed, cream the butter in a large bowl for 2-3 mins until pale and fluffy.  Add the sugar gradually, and mix until fully incorporated.  Then beat in the eggs one by one, making sure to beat well between each addition.  Mix in the sour cream and vanilla (don’t worry if it looks like the mixture has curdled, this will be fixed in the next step).

5.  Add the flour mixture and mix until just incorporated, but with no visible flour.  Fold in the apples and pecans.

6.  Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking tin(s), and try to spread it out more or less evenly (I found that the batter wasn’t very spreadable, but just do the best you can, and make sure to push it into the corners).  Evenly sprinkle the topping over the cake.

7.  Bake for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.  Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10 mins before either cutting into squares to serve or allowing to cool fully on a wire rack.



Filed under Recipes, Sweet Foods

Dessert for one… Or maybe three

Cooking for one can be a bit of a pain.  I have so many bookmarked recipes that are for four or more people and not particularly easy to split.  I get bored eating the same thing several times in a row and my freezer is currently full (thanks to a recipe I tried out the other week that made enough food for 6-8 people… which I obviously didn’t forget to check before I started.  Ahem.), which I need to sort out before I start making soup for the winter.  Now I love crumbles, but all my recipes seem to be for large crumbles to feed at least six people.  I could probably eat a whole six-person crumble in one go all by myself… but just because you can doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a good idea.  So I decided to try making myself a one-person crumble.  Cooking for one shouldn’t mean depriving oneself, it just means trying to adapt things to make smaller quantities.

I was originally going for a pear hazelnut crumble, but as I was rummaging around the fridge, I happened across an apple that was looking a little lonely all by itself, so I decided to make a two-person pear and apple hazelnut crumble.  The two-person crumble turned into a three-person crumble because the fruit turned out to be a tiny bit too much for just two ramekins.  So much for a one-person crumble…  Since I made them in ramekins it’s easy enough to just limit oneself to eating one at a time though, so it’s not much of an issue (otherwise I’d have just another spoonful, and just a little one more, and oh… where did the crumble go?  Woops.).

The flavours of pear, apple and toasted hazelnut complement each other so well, and are really the perfect autumnal combination.  I don’t think I’ve ever matched all three flavours together before, but I’ll definitely be trying the combination out again!  Since the hazelnut flavour in these crumbles absolutely shines through, I’m submitting this to this month’s AlphaBakes challenge, which is being hosted by Caroline Makes, because the random letter is “H” – H for hazelnut, but also for honey, which also features.  I’m not entirely sure whether the challenge is only for baked goods, or whether anything that has seen the inside of a hot oven is fair game.  I’m going with the latter…

Pear & apple hazelnut crumble

Serves 3
Recipe from my imagination

To toast the hazelnuts, spread them out on a baking tray, place in an oven pre-heated to 180°C and roast for 10 min, until they smell toasty (be sure to keep an eye on them so they don’t burn).  Rub the hazelnuts in a clean tea towel to remove most of the skins, and allow to cool fully before using.  I used a bosc pear and a braeburn apple since that’s what I had in the fridge.  If using a small apple and small pear, you could probably fit the slices into just two ramekins instead of three.  I always think that crumble is best served with pouring cream or ice cream.


40g flour
25g unsalted butter
4 heaped tsp light brown sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon
20g porridge oats
20g toasted hazelnuts
1 medium apple
1 medium pear
2-3 tbsp Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur)
2-3 tbsp honey


1.  Add the sugar, flour and cinnamon to a medium-sized bowl.  Cut the butter into small cubes and rub into the sugar and flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

2.  Roughly chop the hazelnuts and stir into the crumble mixture with the porridge oats.  Set aside.

3.  Slice the apples and pears (you might need to cut the slices into two or three to fit them into the ramekins) and mix together.  Set out three ovenproof ramekins (mine are 0.2 litres) and split the apple and pear mixture between them.  Drizzle with about 1 tbsp of Frangelico per ramekin, followed by about 1 tbsp of honey, then top with the crumble mixture, evenly split between the three ramekins.  Don’t pat down the crumble mixture, but make sure that it covers the fruit more or less evenly.

4.  Place the ramekins on a baking tray and bake for 25-30 mins until the crumble is golden.  Serve immediately, accompanied by pouring cream or ice cream.



Filed under Recipes, Sweet Foods

Gunpowder, treason and plot… And chocolate toffee apples

Chele form Chocolate Teapot has chosen “apple” as the special ingredient for this month’s We Should Cocoa challenge.  On reading the challenge, I must admit that I was not convinced by the apple-chocolate combination.  I just couldn’t taste it in my mind (if that makes sense – perhaps I should have said that I just couldn’t imagine the taste).  I resigned myself to the inevitable last-minute, slightly panicky, cobbled-together entry that would take me a whole month to come up with and turned my thoughts to toffee apples and Bonfire Night, which is tomorrow.  And then suddenly it hit me – what about chocolate toffee apples?  Hello potentially genius idea…

Now, I’ve never tried making toffee apples before, in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever eaten eaten one before.  The first step was to find a recipe, and none of my recipe books obliged (probably because most of them are French).  Now, there are approximately 56 bajillion toffee apple recipes online, which doesn’t help when trying to narrow them down.  In the end, I settled on one that seemed straightforward and didn’t require condensed milk (because I’ve no idea what else to do with the other part of the tin that would be left over).  So I settled on one from BBC Food, and added some cocoa powder in at the end.  I think the addition of the cocoa powder made the toffee a lot thicker and heavier and also meant that the toffee wasn’t as smooth glossy as it would normally be, which also resulted in a few issues when trying to coat the apples as the toffee cooled quicker than I was expecting (I was faffing around a bit though, hence why there’s an uncoated apple in the  photo…).  I’ve never tried a normal toffee apple before, so I can’t say whether I prefer these or not, but these did taste good!  Enjoy Bonfire Night, however you’re planning on celebrating!  (Hopefully toffee apples are involved…!)

Chocolate toffee apples

Makes 3
Adapted from BBC Food

I used Cox apples, because that’s what I happened to have, and they’re quite crisp which works well.  If you don’t have skewers or lollipop sticks, you could probably just drop the apples into the toffee and fish them out with a slotted spoon or something (though eating them without a stick to hold onto could be a slightly messy affair).  Using a small saucepan makes the toffee layer deeper, making it easier to dip the apples.  I think the addition of the cocoa powder resulted in a slightly thicker toffee, which made coating a little more difficult, and the toffee cooled slightly quicker, too.  Remember that this involves heating sugar to 140°C, so it’s probably best to keep small children and pets out of the kitchen until everything has cooled.


3 small apples
110g granulated sugar
60 ml water
15g butter
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp roasted chopped hazelnuts
10g cocoa powder (at least 70%)


1.  Scrub the apples in hot water to remove the waxy layer so that the toffee sticks well.  Remove the stalks and insert a lollipop stick or bamboo skewer halfway into the apple through the bit where the stalk was.  Set on a lined baking sheet and place near the hob.

2.  Heat the water and sugar together in a small saucepan until the sugar dissolves.  Stir in the cubed butter and honey and bring to the boil.  Clip your sugar thermometer to the saucepan, and allow to boil without stirring until the temperature reaches 140°C.

3.  Remove the saucepan from the heat and carefully stir in the nuts and sifted cocoa powder (be careful not to splash yourself with hot toffee).

4.  Carefully (but quickly) dip each apple into the saucepan, coating as thoroughly as you can (don’t worry if you don’t get it right to the top though).  Set the apples on the lined baking tray to cool and harden.



Filed under Recipes, Sweet Foods

Too exhausted to write up lecture notes? Make muffins!

On Monday, I spent most of my day fieldworking for my Marine Acoustics module, which involved going out on the boat for a few hours to take recordings being transmitted from a loudspeaker broadcasting from the base of the pier as well as doing an echosound transect and then chilling out monitoring the loudspeaker equipment on the pier whilst the other group went out on the boat.  We were incredibly lucky with the weather – it wasn’t too cold, there was fantastic sunshine, hardly any wind (very unusual for St Andrews) and the swell was pretty minimal.  I even managed to acquire a sunburnt nose.  In Scotland.  In February.  Ya, I know, who would have thought?!  Just in case you don’t believe me, here’s proof of the sunshine:

This was followed up by a joint event between the university’s French Department and the French Society, which involved Jean-Yves Laurichesse, a French professor and novelist, reading from two of his novels followed by a Q&A session afterwards.  As President of French Soc (not nearly as impressive as it sounds), I was asked to chair the discussion, and for some obscure reason, I agreed.  I’m dreadful at (and slightly terrified of) public speaking, and I’ve never chaired a discussion before.  As a Zoology student, I’m not particularly used to literary discussions (probably my only exposure to them is the Edinburgh Book Festival – ya, I’m THAT cool).  Needless to say, I was pretty panicky about the event beforehand.  Oh, and the whole event was to be conducted entirely in French (I realise I’m fluent, but the prospect stressed me out further).  Thankfully Professor Laurichesse was very friendly, everybody was keen to ask questions and the whole event went smoothly (the wine provided by French Soc may have helped…).

I realise that our fieldwork sounds like it was a bit of a doss, but I’d forgotten quite how exhausting it is to spend long periods of time outside, particularly on the boat.  This combined with my serious stressing over the whole discussion-chairing thing, meant that by the time I’d had dinner, I was utterly drained.  I was supposed to be writing up lecture notes about thrilling things like krill, but I just couldn’t concentrate, and decided to be realistic: clearly I was getting nowhere with the krill, but it was still a little too early to go to bed.  Since the recipe seemed straightforward enough to follow in my pathetically knackered state and I happened to have all the ingredients, I decided to try out these muffins.  A brilliant decision, because they turned out rather tasty and wonderfully moist.

Apple & raisin buttermilk muffins

Makes 16 muffins
Adapted from Jane’s Sweets & Baking Journal

If you don’t have any buttermilk, just use 225ml of normal milk and add 1 tbsp lemon juice, mix and allow to stand for a few minutes.  Then just add it as instructed (though sieve it first in case any lemon pips snuck in).  I have a permanent stock of raisins soaking in rum, so I decided to use them and they added a subtle taste of rum, but normal raisins would work just as well.


100g porridge oats
225ml buttermilk
90g all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 eggs, lightly beaten
115g granulated sugar
85g unsalted butter
1 small apple
50g raisins
Cinnamon sugar for sprinkling (optional)


1.  Mix the buttermilk and oats together in a large bowl.  Leave to stand for 20 mins.

2.  Meanwhile, prepare the rest of the ingredients.  In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and cinnamon.  Melt the butter in a small saucepan.  Peel and dice the apple (dice it quite finely, but not too much – you still want chunks in the muffins).

3.  Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.  Line a muffin tin or set out 16 silicone muffin cups.

4.  Once the oats and buttermilk mixture has stood for 20 mins, add the lightly beaten eggs, sugar and melted butter and mix well.

5.  Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined.  Add the apples and raisins and incorporate until just evenly distributed.  Don’t over-mix.

6.  Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared muffin cups/liners, making sure not to fill them more than ⅔.  Bake for 14 mins.

7.  Allow the muffins to cool in the tin or cups for a few minutes before moving them to a wire rack.  Sprinkle the tops with a little cinnamon sugar for decoration.



Filed under Recipes, Student Life, Sweet Foods