Friday, September 26, 2014

Comfort Me With Apples

Actually the lovesick bride in Song of Solomon requests that her bridegroom:
Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples; for I am sick of love.
Song of Solomon 2:5
KVJ - 1611
It looks like God's Secretaries weren't quite as temperate as other translators of holy writings.  Several other versions of this passage from Song of Solomon insist that it's raisins or raisin cakes that offer strength.  Myself I rather like the First Cambridge Company of translator's idea that ferments and bottles the grape of the vine rather than just drying it then using it in cookery.  It's more like the Anglican tradition I was brought up in.

That first apple harvest as imagined
by the wonderful Emanuele Luzzati.
 When it comes to those apples it's fascinating how many translations of this verse think of them as being a source of refreshment rather than comfort.  Given that the apple became known as the forbidden fruit from the Garden of Eden it's a wonder that anything so representative of sin was asked for on a wedding night - or not!

The apple - which at one time was the name given to anything that was not a berry - has figured as a symbol in the mythology of most world religions from the Abrahimic to the Norse.  In many of these myths it seems to have been the cause of sin, strife, envy, discord and greed.  However its reputation is saved in both the Song of Solomon and in world culinary traditions where the apple does indeed become a thing of refreshment and comfort.  What could be more of a comfort food than apple pie - well okay apple pie with ice cream - or a baked apple?

So why this ramble about the Malus domestica which is appearing in abundance in the markets these days?  Well exactly that!   At the moment the market stalls have a remarkable variety of apples available and I've been madly searching for ways to include them in the recent spate of cooking I've been doing.  While looking for a recipe I had for slow cooker apple butter I came across an Apple and Almond cake that my friend Ben made for a Rosh Hashanah dinner he attended last year.  The tradition of that holiday is to eat apples dipped in honey to represent a sweet beginning to the New Year.  

The act is accompanied by a prayer:
Blessed are you Lord, our God, Ruler of the world,
Creator of the fruit of the tree.
(Baruch atah Ado-nai, Ehlo-haynu melech Ha-olam,
Borai p'ree ha'aitz.

An apple slice is dipped in the honey and eaten.

 May it be Your will, Adonai, our God and the God of our forefathers,
that You renew for us a good and sweet year.
(Y'hee ratzon mee-l'fanekha, Adonai Elohaynu v'elohey avoteynu sh'tichadeish aleinu shanah tovah um'tuqah.
Though there is no honey in this recipe I can vouch that it has just the right amount of sweetness for the New Year.

Apple and Almond Cake - serves 12

3 apples, peeled, cored and chopped roughly - Braeburns or Granny Smith
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp sugar
8 eggs
1 3/4 cup superfine sugar
3 1/4 cups ground almonds
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup flaked almost
1 tsp confectioners' sugar

Put chopped apples, 1 tbsp lemon juice and 2 tsp sugar in a sauce pan and bring to boil over a medium heat.  Cover and cook over low heat for about 10 minutes or until you can mash the apple to a rough puree with a wooden spoon or fork.  Leave to cool.

Preheat oven to 350º F - 175c.  Oil a 10" spring-form pan with almond oil or flavourless vegetable oil and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Put the cooled puree, eggs, ground almonds, sugar and tbsp of lemon juice into a processor and blitz to a puree.

Pour and scrape into the prepared pan, sprinkle the flaked almonds on top and bake for 45 minutes.  Check after 35 minutes as ovens vary and see if a knife comes out clean when inserted.  Adjust timings accordingly.

Put on a wire rack to cool then remove the sides of the pan.  It is best served warm though it's still good cold. (Beyond good - warm or cold Laurent assures me.)
Before bringing it to the table push a tsp of confectioners' sugar through a fine sieve to give it a light dusting.

Many thanks for the recipe Ben - it's a winner.  And L'shanah tovah tikatevu.

September 26 - 1973:  Concorde makes its first non-stop crossing of the Atlantic in record-breaking time.


Ur-spo said...

When I lived in the midwest every autumn I had a ritual to go apple picking and make an apple pie. I enjoyed the day, but (alas) I was never good at making the pies. They were always runny.
I recently infused bourbon with apples - lovely

yvette said...

Just what I need... I can feel the lovely apple and roasted almond scent near by... It looks very tempting !

yvette said...

And no butter, no flour, just the amount of eggs, is it possible to cut down the eggs? say just 4 instead of 8 ?

Willym said...

Don't think it would work with less eggs - they tend to be what's holding it together. Maybe a combination of eggs and milk? Not sure but it may be worth a try.

yvette said...

I will give it a try, thank you Willym ! ( this post as often on your shores bring some homely and friendly links)