At this time of year, many moons ago, we would look forward to a family outing picking autumn fruits, particularly Cox apples to eat immediately and, usually, an abundance of Bramleys, which were carefully wrapped in newspaper and stored to use over the winter. Now, sadly, these Northamptonshire orchards are no more.
However, a little internet research before our holiday to Norfolk last week proved to be invaluable when I found that Hillfield Nursery & Farm Shop wasn’t too many miles from where we were staying and, excitingly, some of the apple varieties could be ripe for picking!
|Trees dripping with fruit|
This hidden gem, situated down a country lane not too far from the east coast, and near the village of Haddiscoe, actually proved to be an Aladdin’s cave of foodie treats and we were wide-eyed viewing the burgeoning shelves of jams, chutneys, oils, biscuits etcetera, as well as the stocked freezers full of local game and ice cream. Of course, all manner of fruit and vegetables were for sale (PYO soft fruits in season) but my main interest was in the apples. Amazingly, around 200 varieties are grown in the Hillfield orchards and we were very fortunate to be able to pick some Queen Cox and Bramleys, as well as a variety unknown to us which could be used as a cooking or eating apple. I so wished we lived closer!
|Time for tea|
On our return, of course I couldn’t resist a little baking but, ever mindful of the waistline, wanted to cook a cake with a healthy twist. I think this Apple, Courgette and Carrot loaf fills the brief as I used maple syrup instead of sugar, coconut oil and yoghurt in place of the usual fat and warm autumnal spices to complement the fruit and vegetables.
Apple, Courgette and Carrot loaf
340g plain flour
170g wholemeal flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
6 tablespoons maple syrup
85g coconut oil
2 large eggs
170g 0% plain yoghurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large apple grated
1 medium courgette grated (pat dry)
1 medium carrot grated
2 tablespoons milk (if needed)
Heat oven to 180C - fan 170C - Gas 4 and prepare and line two (one to eat now and one to freeze for later) small (1 lb) loaf tins.
Sift together dry ingredients.
In a separate bowl combine coconut oil (melted if necessary), maple syrup, eggs, yoghurt and vanilla. Beat for 1 minute.
Slowly add flour mixture.
Lastly, stir in apple, courgette and carrot.
Add milk, if necessary, to make a fairly stiff mixture.
Bake in oven for approx. 45 mins, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Cool in tin for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
Slice and serve with a spread of your choice (I used butter!).
|Hillfield's wonderful board of home-grown apple varieties|