Versatile: Danish apple cake works just as well with rhubarb or peaches. Photo: Marina Oliphant
One of the things I look forward to in autumn is the start of the apple season, which runs through until October.
Crunchy new-season apples are so delicious and there are many varieties to choose from. Some of the best for cooking are Golden Delicious and Bramley, which have a tart flavour and hold their texture when cooked.
My favourite eating apple is a Bonza, which originated in Australia and is large and slightly sweet. I like the Fuji, too, which originated in Japan, and is very sweet and super crisp.
Refreshing: Pink Lady apple gelato. Photo: Marina Oliphant
To find a wider variety of apples than most supermarkets offer, try a farmers' market or a good greengrocer.
If you want to grow your own, there are many dwarf apple tree varieties suitable for smaller gardens. These small trees grow to a manageable size for fruit harvesting. You can buy multi-grafted dwarf trees, which include two or more apple varieties on the one tree.
DANISH APPLE CAKE
175g butter, softened
175g castor sugar
175g self-raising flour
500g Golden Delicious apples
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp white sugar
Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Grease a 22-centimetre round cake tin. Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Sieve flour into mixture and fold in thoroughly. The mixture will be quite stiff. Peel, core and quarter apples, then slice them thinly. Spread half the mixture in the bottom of the cake tin and cover with half the sliced apple. Cover with the rest of the mixture and arrange the remaining apple in a wheel pattern over the top. Mix cinnamon and white sugar then sprinkle over the apple. Place in the centre of the oven and bake for 35 minutes. To check if it's ready, insert a skewer in the centre; it should come out clean. You can replace the apple in this cake with rhubarb, pear or firm peaches. Or leave the fruit out altogether and just sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mix onto the cake before baking, then you will have a very moist tea cake.
PINK LADY APPLE SORBET
1kg Pink Lady apples
4 tbsp castor sugar
2 cups water
3 tbsp liquid glucose
1 lemon, juiced
Mint leaves to garnish
To make apple puree, wash apples then chop into rough chunks, pips, skin and all. Place in a saucepan and add castor sugar. Add water and cook until apples are soft and starting to fall apart. Let mixture cool for a few minutes before passing it through a fine sieve into a bowl, then add glucose and mix well. Place bowl in the fridge to chill. Once chilled add lemon juice. If you have an ice-cream maker, place the mixture into it and churn according to instructions until frozen. If you don't have an ice-cream maker, place the mixture in a shallow tray and put in the freezer. Remove it every hour or so to give it a good stir to break up the ice crystals. Once frozen, pile spoonfuls of sorbet into a glass and top with a sprig of mint. It doesn't refreeze well, so eat it all immediately.