I love this chilly time of year and all that comes with it – warm woollen socks, the beautiful silhouette of trees without their leaves, foggy mornings, the perpetual good excuse to drink hot chocolate, and an abundance of apples!
In Australia, we grow an average of 2.6 billion apples each year, which are harvested from March through to November. We're smack bang in the middle of the season right now, so you can eat and cook yourself silly.
There are many varieties, of course, but my favourite apples when it comes to baking are the sweet, crisp and beautifully coloured Golden Delicious (always my first choice), the incredibly sweet and well-flavoured Pink Lady™, the sweet and aromatic Royal Gala and, finally, the trustworthy and oh-so-tart Granny Smith. All have the dense flesh and intense flavour qualities that will make your baking sing.
When buying, choose apples that are firm and heavy for their size, with no soft spots or bruising. And, although they always look wonderful on display, apples are best kept in the crisper section of your fridge in a sealed plastic bag for up to four weeks. I know, you like to look at them, but if kept at room temperature an apple will lose its crispness 10 times faster than in the fridge.
So, now to the part I love – cooking! My apple repertoire goes something like this: warm double-crusted apple pies, moreish rhubarb-and-apple crumble, subtly spiced apple strudel, buttery apple cake, and simple (but incredibly refined) French apple tarts – plus the wholesome apple muffins, divine caramelised apple puddings, irresistible apple turnovers and truly delicious apple shortcake slice I'm sharing with in this column.
Yes, they're great eaten whole, but I reckon apples are even better used to make marvellous baked goods like these.
Anneka's mission is to connect home cooks with the magic of baking, and through this, with those they love. Read our interview with her or for hands-on baking classes and baking tips, visit her at BakeClub. Don't miss what's coming out of her oven via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Trish Hegarty. Food preparation by Wendy Quisumbing.
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