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By Well Seasoned, Oct 3 2018 04:00AM

The sticky toffee pudding is, undeniably, a modern icon. Widely linked with Francis Coulson and the Sharrow Bay Hotel in the 1970s, its origins may go back further than that, possibly even to a different country. The British have, however, taken it to their hearts and it still graces many menus today.


This recipe takes some of the sticky toffee elements but brings in the freshness and acidity of new-season apple. I like the balance this gives, as well as the different texture, and a little salt in the sauce just adds to the taste sensations. Being rooted in the West Country, clotted cream is my accompaniment of choice, but custard, cream, crème fraîche or ice cream all work well.


serves 8–10


For the toffee sauce


225ml double cream plus 1½ tbsp milk

1 strip of lemon zest

½ tsp Maldon sea salt, finely ground

100g caster sugar

50g golden syrup

lemon juice to taste


For the apples


10g butter

3 sharp apples, peeled, cored and cut into

8 wedges

1½ tbsp caster sugar


For the sponge


200g unsalted butter, softened

150g golden caster sugar

50g light muscovado sugar

200g self-raising flour

½ tsp Maldon sea salt, finely ground

½ tsp mixed spice or cinnamon

3 large, free-range eggs, beaten


1. Preheat the oven to 160˚C.


2. To make the toffee sauce, warm the cream and milk in a small saucepan with the lemon zest and salt. Allow to infuse for 20 minutes and then bring just to a simmer. Turn off the heat.


3. In a heavy-based pan, combine the sugar and syrup. Cook to a medium to dark caramel (170˚C on a sugar thermometer). Carefully add the hot cream mix and cook over a low heat, stirring gently until the caramel has dissolved. Adjust the flavour with the lemon juice and pass through a sieve into a bowl. Press a sheet of cling film directly onto the surface and let cool.


4. For the apples, melt the butter in a non-stick frying pan, add the apple wedges and sprinkle with the sugar. Mix well to coat and fry until lightly caramelized. Transfer to a plate to cool.


5. To make the sponge, cream the butter and sugars together in the bowl of a mixer, beating until pale and fluffy. Sift together the flour, salt and spice. Gradually add the beaten egg to the butter mix, alternating with spoonfuls of the flour. Once all the egg is incorporated, mix in the remaining flour.


6. Grease and lightly flour a 2l ovenproof bowl. Lay two-thirds of the apple wedges in the bottom and pour half of the cold toffee sauce on top. Chill for 30 minutes and then cover with the sponge mix. Bake for 15 minutes then reduce the temperature to 150˚C for a further 40–50 minutes until risen, golden, and firm to the touch in the centre of the sponge. Allow to rest for 10 minutes and then very carefully invert onto a serving plate.


7. Serve with the remaining caramelized apple wedges and warmed toffee sauce.


By Well Seasoned, Oct 1 2018 04:20PM

If September was the curtain-raiser to autumn then October is definitely the main feature.


This month, our green and pleasant land puts on a show of brilliant oranges, browns, golds and reds in a visual and epicurean spectacular. The long, hot days of summer are definitely behind us now but they’ve left an embarrassment of edible riches. With winter just beyond the horizon, October is a month when preserving our bounty for the colder months is even more important. Chutneys, jams and pickles are all promoted to the top of our seasonal to-do list. On the vegetable patch, there’s more than enough to keep us busy, too: marrows, pumpkins and squashes all thrive at this time of year; while in the orchard, those delicate soft fruits have all now given way to hardier, but certainly no less delicious, apples and pears.


But perhaps the most exciting thing about October is that Mother Nature invariably flings opens the door of her wild larder and invites us to stuff ourselves silly. It’s one of the best months to be outdoors foraging, with hedgerows fit to burst with ripe berries and nuts, and the mild, damp conditions mean mushrooms abound on forest floors. We can literally take our pick from hundreds of wonderfully named fungi, including puffballs, penny buns and chicken of the woods. Scallops and mussels are plump and plentiful and there is game aplenty as pheasant joins duck, partridge and grouse on the autumnal menu.


October’s weather also helps make it a great month to be outdoors. Hopes of a seriously hot day have all but vanished, but it’s surprisingly common to have a sustained spell of sunshine towards the middle of the month (it’s known as ‘St Luke’s little summer’, named after the saint’s day which falls on the eighteenth). The days are getting noticeably shorter by now, but with all of this food around we can appreciate a little extra time in the kitchen.


So, with respectable weather and no shortage of produce to choose from, we can look forward to filling our boots in October.

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