Enticed by its big welcoming sign (“Apples! Quinces! Pears!”, or something like that), we decided to check out a local apple orchard and immediately found ourselves pacing down a row of fruit-heavy apple trees leading in from the road.  Even on that gusty grey day, we could smell the apple in the air, and were very excited to bring home a big bag of granny smiths and quinces for a little bit of orchard-goodness at home.  This weekend we had an apple-baking bonanza, and I want to recommend two excellent recipes if you might be in a similar apple-baking mood.

img_3920_1First, there was  Molly’s apple tart-cake. The golden glow you see in this photo is from the glorious morning sun that decided to come out yesterday just at apple cake photo time.

This cake is something that you can pull together from everyday ingredients, and, with the help of a food processor, is straightforward to make.  The amazing thing is the tart-cake base, which starts out being crumbly and mealy: but somehow, during cooking this base mixture both sets at the bottom and bubbles up to fill the nooks and crannies of the apple slices up above.  Who knows how a base mixture can know to do both things?  And in terms of technique, no special cake making skills are here required.  Once  you press the tart-cake crumbs into your tin, then just you need to really pack in the apple slices on top (as prettily as you please), and then do the topping stage.  I pretty much decided to follow Molly’s recipe so won’t repeat it here.  (Though next time I make this one, I will take up some of the suggestions in the comments to reduce the sugar in the base from 1 cup to 3/4 cup.)

img_3925_1Second, my husband requested apple pie.  Cindy led me to a recipe for old-fashioned apple pie by Martha Stewart, which uses a fabulous pate brisee recipe for the pastry that I had tried with great success in the past (eg for beetroot and feta tart).  This recipe is the real deal, and has a very simple idea for the filling (just sliced apples tossed in lemon juice, sugar and spices with some flour and butter).  I have never made apple pie from scratch before so followed the recipe closely, but I would like a bit more of the spice flavour next time.  But I admit I was a little daunted by the prospect of making a pie that uses 1.8kg of apples, so decided to make a half quantity.  Here’s the resulting golden pie, in the rather less golden glow of the afternoon sun by our window.  While the pie here looks like it is bathed in mysterious cool blue light, the photo is taken in the same spot as the apple tart-cake was the previous morning.  I promise you that the pie was as appropriately bronzed and burnished as a sugar-crusted apple pie should be!

(And because even with half the amount of apples I could not fit them in, this is the little ramekin-pie I made with the leftover filling and pastry scraps.)