Apples are just starting to come into season now, and it seems to be getting easier to find many different varieties. In the grocery stores you only ever see a few varieties, in farmers markets you can find a few other varieties. I was surprised to learn that the Victorians once cultivated 1500 varieties of apples. The best apples come from established apple trees planted in your neighbourhood. I enjoy going for evening walks in the older neighbourhoods, and I often see all types of apple trees. It’s fun to reach up and pick an apple to munch on as you walk. I’m sure that the owners don’t mind, many people don’t seem to use their apples. Even if they do use their apples there are always plenty to go around. These neighbourhood apples are so different from their cousins in the stores. You never know what they will taste like. They might be super sour, sweet, pulpy, crisp, but they all seem to have a good flavor even if they aren’t the prettiest looking. You get all sorts of sizes and colours too. It is a bit of guess work to figure out what purpose the apples would be best for, whether for applesauce, baked goods, eating, or preserving. If you don’t have any apple trees and don’t want to scrump any, there are now organizations that pick fruit trees on municipal and private land for charity and they often reward volunteers with a share of the harvest.
This year I’ve been lucky enough to have some good friends who have gifted me with some apples that they picked from their cottage. They are the most gorgeous apples I’ve seen in a while and perfect to try out a recipe for French Apple Cake. I’ve been waiting to try this recipe by Dorie Greenspan for French apple cake for quite a while now and I must say that it is quite spectacular. The whole cake is really just a lot of apples held together with a moist almost custardy crumb surrounded by crusty exterior with bits of caramelized apples.
I cam across the recipe a few years ago on various blogs such as David’s and Dories, and it is even posted on Amazon.com, but I finally bought the book and am very pleased with it. The apples really are the star, and all you need is 4 large apples, preferably each a different variety. I didn’t have any large apples so I guessed and weighed out about 600g of apples. The rum is a key flavoring here and really accents the apples well, so don’t think that you can leave it out without noticing. Although I suppose you could use cognac or whiskey. I won’t bother typing up the recipe but you can find it here, here, and here. Happy apple picking.