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Sunday, 14 November 2010

An autumnal syrup

Apples tend to get overlooked in our house. I for one view them as a rather dull fruit, and will always plump instead for a peach, pear, plum or cluster of sweet, red berries. However, last week I discovered a new way with apples, which seemed to fit the time of year to a T.

The recipe comes from 'At Elizabeth David's Table', and is essentially apples sweated gently in a fruity, sugary syrup until they're just on the point of falling to pieces on your tongue. The dessert as a whole was lovely, lifted delightfully by a large scoop (ok...two...well...actually three) of cinnamon ice cream. But, it was the syrup that really made it.

It's gutsy and deep and zingy all at once, with a real earthy, smoky bite to it. It reminds me of bonfire night - going down to the furlong with parents and friends to watch the fireworks, wrapped in a horrifically itchy scarf, and munching on slightly burnt toffee apples from the little white van that was always lit up as brightly as any Christmas tree.

It undoubtedly worked when poured over the hot sliced apples, but I am plotting another outing for it. I think we might find that its true destiny lies as a glaze to a sweet vanilla loaf cake. Served slightly warm, I reckon it would be autumn on a plate.

Apple Sugar Syrup

Adapted from Elizabeth David


The peel, cores and pips from 4 apples, preferably Cox's
4 thick slices of lemon, including the rind
4 heaped tbsps caster sugar
Enough water to cover the peel (but not too much otherwise you'll be there forever)


  1. Put the apple remnants and lemon in a small saucepan.
  2. Add the sugar (but don't put the bag back in the cupboard as you may need more later)
  3. Pour in enough cold water to just about cover the contents of the pan. 
  4. Turn the heat up high and let the water come to a frothy boil.
  5. Keep an eye on it, to avoid sticky spillages, but don't let it drop down to a simmer, it needs to keep a vigorous boil going.
  6. Stir the mixture occasionally to test for viscosity. Once the syrup has reduced, and has taken on the rosy colour from the apple peel, pass it through a sieve and return it to the heat.
  7. Add another spoon of sugar and keep the heat high, until you've got a lovely, pinkish, sticky syrup.

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