The other day, Nick took this picture of these Bramley apples from the farm at Ringdens. Just so different from those monstrous waxy green supermarket specimens…. local fruit picked from orchards are blushed and rosy with an almost lime-coloured flecked white flesh, these have a wholesome apple flavour. They are just slightly too tart to eat raw, but not massively.
The Bramley industry is worth £50million so it’s not surprising that there are so many poor forced varieties clogging up the fruit aisles. Chemically treated, sprayed, waxed and grown industrially from commercial grafts…you can taste that these are not apples that have been cultivated naturally and left to ripen and develop their full flavour.
In Britain, we produce many different types of cooking apple, but the Bramley is our old faithful. They hold their shape, are generally fairly round and even (therefore easier to peel than our older traditional knobbly varieties) and should always have a pleasant slight tartness…not the sharp belt of an aftertaste that accompanies forced apples. When they are cooked, the sweetness becomes rounded and golden and the flesh light and fluffy.
The Bramley apple has celebrated its 200th birthday. In 1809, a young girl, Mary Ann Brailsford, planted an apple seed in her garden. One of these seeds carried the unique embryo that was to become the first Bramley’s Seedling tree. Later, the house was sold to James Bramley and in 1846 he allowed cuttings from the tree to be taken, as long as they bore his name. The first commercial Bramley tree was planted and it is somehow still bearing fruit (despite blowing down in a storm in 1900).
Apple Pannekoeken (Dutch Apple Pancake)
This is a super-decadent breakfast and usually I would halve the sugar..or not add any at all. But as the temperature has plummeted and it seems like it might snow, then maybe as a treat….
2 tbsp butter
A pinch of salt
Icing sugar (optional)
For the topping
100g brown sugar, packed
1½ tsp cinnamon
⅓ tsp nutmeg
3 medium cooking apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
6 tbsp butter
1 Preheat the oven to 210C/425F/gas mark 7. Put the butter into an ovenproof frying pan or dish and slide into the oven to melt.
2 Meanwhile, prepare your batter by beating the eggs in a large bowl. Add the salt, milk, and flour, then continue to beat until smooth.
3 When the butter has melted, swirl the pan to coat it, then pour in the batter. Bake for about 15-18 minutes without opening the oven door. The pannekoeken is ready when it is browned and crisp around the edges.
4 To make the apple topping, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl. Add the apples to the bowl and mix gently to coat, then set aside.
5 In a large saucepan, gently melt the butter then add the apple mixture and cook over a medium heat until the apples are tender. Spoon over the hot pannekoeken, sprinkle with icing sugar, cut into wedges, and serve.