Apple and walnut cake

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Apple season is starting soon. They happily grow in this climate with lots of backyard trees as well as many delicious foragable trees available. They grow along roadsides and old train lines, most likely popping up from the seeds of cores people have thrown out windows. We have two very old large apple trees in the back yard which we share with the birds. This year we’ve had a bumper crop and will need to work out multiple ways to eat, prepare and share the bounty.

150 gm b.d farm butter

150 gm coconut sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

2 eggs

150 gm wholemeal spelt flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

pinch salt

400 gm apple, cored then grated

60 gm walnuts, lightly toasted then chopped

Topping:

60 gm walnuts, chopped

30 gm coconut sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 180C. Get a loaf tin ready by lining it with baking paper. Beat together the butter and sugar until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time beating them in until well combined.

Add sifted flour, baking soda and powder, spices, salt. Use a wooden spoon to fold in the ingredients until just combined. This will result in a fluffier lighter cake.

Add the grated apple and walnuts and fold in. Place mixture into loaf tin. For the topping mix all the ingredients together in a bowl then sprinkle evenly over top of cake.

Bake for 45 mins or until skewer poked in middle comes out clean.

 

Harvesting walnuts

There are plenty of old walnuts trees growing around Adelaide. Some kind souls probably planted them for the generations to come. I don’t think they’d come up on their own. The one growing next door gets visited regularly by a flock of white cockatoos who have a great time munching away on them. There are also a few trees I know about on public land that can be foraged. I went to one of those trees to see if they were ready for harvest and managed to collect a full bucket in about 15 minutes.

walnuts

It’s better to collect them while the whole husk is green as the rotting husk damages the inner nut and shell.  Before you start thinking about dehusking the nut make sure you keep in mind that the husk will create a pretty permanent dark brown stain on any surface it comes in contact with, including your hands so use gloves. To dehusk, get the shell and roll it under your foot on a hard surface. The husk will crack and sort of lift of the shell. If you add too much pressure the nut will crack. Once you’ve rolled it around a bit pick it up and peel off the husk. Most of it should come off. Then place it in a bucket of hot water. Soak the nuts in the hot water for a couple of hours. This will soften any left over husk and the ones that sink are the good ones. Scrape of the rest of the husk with steel wool or a knife and place in a tray to dry.

hulled-walnuts

Let the nuts cure for a few weeks in a shaded ventalated space outside. Protect them from rats and birds but ensure they get good ventilation. The lighter ones in the above photo were the one from the green husks and the darker to black ones had more rotting husk on it they are most likely no good for eating but the light ones should be good.

 

Wild foraged bounty

I went up to the hills in May with a local friend who showed me some old forgotten fruit trees. With permission from the property owners I gathered quinces, apples and giant river walnuts. On the Adelaide plains I collected some oranges from a neglected tree in a public car park. The oranges were just dropping on the ground and rotting so I figured that no one would mind if I collected some. The oranges were very concentrated in flavor. Very tart which is how I like my fruit.

With the quinces I made some stewed quinces in syrup as well as some quince paste (Membrillo). We ate the apples and walnuts fresh as is and shared them around to friends and family. Some of the walnuts I forgot about and left them outside and they sprouted into baby walnut trees. I am nurturing the seedlings and aim to do some guerilla plantings this winter somewhere close to home.

Membrillo -(Adapted river cottage recipe)

Wash the quince. Roughly chop the fruit but don’t peel or core them. Place in a large pan and barely cover with water. Bring to a simmer and cook until soft and pulpy, adding a little more water if necessary. Leave to stand for several hours.

Rub the contents of the pan through a sieve or pass through a mouli. Weigh the pulp and return it to the cleaned-out pan, adding an equal weight of sugar. Bring gently to the boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, then simmer gently, stirring frequently, for an hour and a bit until really thick and glossy. It may bubble and spit like a volcano, so do take care. The mixture is ready when it is so thick that you can scrape a spoon through it and see the base of the pan for a couple of seconds before the mixture oozes together again.

When the Membrillo is cooked, pour it into the prepared moulds or jars. To seal open moulds, pour melted food-grade paraffin wax over the hot membrillo. Jars can be sealed with lids. Membrillo set in a shallow tray should be covered with greaseproof paper and kept in the fridge. If you would like it firmer, place in oven on low heat or dehydrator to make it firmer.

For optimum flavour, allow the Membrillo to mature for 4–6 weeks before using. Eat within 12 months.

quinces