Yesterday was sodden with rain, shrouded with mists, and, well, winter. Miserable weather. Thankfully I was spending it with my friend B, so we ate and talked and worked our way thru it all. Thankfully today is truly opposite: I am sitting outside as I write this, basking in the sun like a cat, drinking green tea and popping sweet red grapes.
This is a lovely moment because I don’t get into my green space now except on weekends. With shorter, cooler days, I come straight home from work and go – and stay – inside. I peer at my garden thru the windows, and it’s not the same as being in it.
During the summer I am such a part of my garden that I do feel a sense of loss at this time of the year when I am no longer so connected with it (even if there is not much work to do).
Even while I’m sitting here though, I know this gorgeousness could be gone in a flash – all it takes is for one cloud to scuttle across the sun and I’d be chilled to the bone. And the evening will definitely be cool, so I’m glad I have an apple pudding waiting for me.
‘Pudding’. Don’t you just love that word? It’s not glamourous like soufflé or fancy like tart. It’s like a plump old cook wearing an apron tied around her ample waist, sleeves rolled up ready to… okay, I know I’m getting carried away here.
But ‘pudding’ – you now you’ll be well-fed, well-nourished, maybe a little undo-your-top-button full by the end of it. What’s wrong with that? On a winter’s night you can roll away from the dining table and recline on the couch in a happy food-coma.
The pudding I made is mum’s apple and lemon pudding. It’s wonderfully fast to make, especially mid-week when you have neither the time or energy for involved recipes. The secret to the speed is melting the butter rather than creaming it (a blessing too if your kitchen is as arctic as mine in the wintertime and working with butter can be a challenge).
So, zap 100 grams of butter in the microwave to melt it, then stir in half a cup of sugar, two eggs, half teaspoon of vanilla and two third cups of self raising flour. A lovely, fast batter.
This pudding is also a good way of eating your fruit quota. I fall behind eating fresh fruit at this time of the year – frankly, I prefer to eat vegetables, or cooked fruit. So combining apples with pudding is a very sound nutrition decision, as far as I’m concerned.So take four or five apples and cut them into thin slices or wedges, whatever you’re fastest at. I leave the skin on because a) that’s where the vitamins are and b) I’m lazy. I’ve made this with apple varieties that cook down to a lovely mush as well as those that hold their shape. All are delicious.
Next, zest a lemon over the apples, then add the lemon’s juice, plus half a cup of brown sugar and a quarter of a teaspoon each of cinnamon and (my favourite) mixed spice. Tumble it all into a well-buttered baking dish; top with the batter; and sprinkle over flaked almonds. Once cooked (180 for about 35 minutes), the almonds’ toasty crunch contrasts nicely against the pillowy pudding layer and the beautifully cooked apple, all at once sweet and spicy and tangy – and comforting, the way a pudding should be.