I’ve just realised that it’s been almost two months since I posted something sweet. I know, what was I thinking: man cannot live by tofu alone. It’s not even as if we never have anything sweet and I have to expend great brainpower coming up with a recipe. For example, the last sweet thing I ate was on Saturday. As it was only three ingredients – none of which I had anything to do with making – it probably doesn’t count as a recipe. But it was scrummy, & obviously easy, so I will share it with you: Rachel’s Organic Greek-style Coconut Yogurt topped with blueberries and a crushed Nairn’s Ginger Oatcake (thanks to Yvonne Mc for that genius idea).
Irritatingly, and as is not infrequently the case, a little smidge of yogurt was left in the cardboard pot BY SOMEONE WHO SHALL REMAIN NAMELESS, so that when I was wanting a sneaky snack – a la Nigella and her dressing-gown fridge forays – the yogurt to oatcake ratio was not the most satisfying. One teaspoon does not a snack make. Note to all would-be smidge leavers: either scrape out that last wee bit or chuck it in the bin – don’t get your mother’s hopes up. I’ve since gotten over the disappointment, can you tell?
My previous sweet thing was again something not made by myself, not even assembled by myself. It was in fact one of the French special offers at Lidl. Readers, it was macarons, and they were delicious. In my defence I purchased these little coloured ellipses of gorgeousness for Miss R and her chums to enjoy pre school rock concert. (Teenaged girls of course always need encouragement to be even more hyper before events where they will see hair-gelled boys playing guitars and peacocking about on a stage.) And as I had never had them before I needed to sample the macarons to make sure they were not spit-outable. They were not. I had four – one in each flavour – just to make sure.
Before this experience I was a macaron virgin. Yes, I’ve said it. I had never knowingly eaten a macaron. Even having been to Paris, home of said delicacy, I wasn’t tempted. I saw them artfully stacked in the come-hither windows of Fauchon and Laduree but could never see past the, as I think, gaudy colours or the thought that they may be like meringues (of which I am not fond). But at £2.99 for a box of 12, I though it worth a punt. Big hit with the girls. We kindly saved a couple back for Mr A, a man more inclined to cheese plates than banoffee pie, who declared them delicious. So, here I am, waiting for the Lidl French special offer to pass so that I can once again visit Lidl for sensible purchases of grapes and toilet paper. I don’t want to be that person who freezer-dives for the last box of macarons. But maybe you go and buy them, before I change my mind.
Back to my original dilemma: the next sweet recipe. Well, the sharp-eyed among you will have noticed that my last cakey thing was apple and oat bars. Some of you seemed to think it was a nice recipe, quite seasonal. Thank you. So you would be right to ponder the wisdom of posting another apple cake recipe when there are plenty of other fruits that can be dessertified, never mind sampling the universe of chocolate recipes that exist. But I can’t resist sharing with you a cake that my dear Aunt Ruth fixed for us when we visited her in October. Although we were visiting my Dad in Florida, we flew up to Nashville, Tennessee to visit his sister and her family. Aunt Ruth is a superb Southern cook, gracious and traditional. And, as is the case with her counterparts below the Mason-Dixon line she feels it a dereliction of heritage to serve no fewer than eight dishes at a time. And that’s just for breakfast.
One of the standout dishes was this apple cake. In her version – borrowed from a 1977 church cookbook – she skewers the top and pours over homemade caramel sauce. Although it was really good (I mean really good) we prefer it without the extra sweetness. But maybe that’s because we had it after said eight dishes. I have included the sauce but that really does take it into the realms of special treat. With or without the rich and gooey top it goes extremely well with a dollop of thick half-fat creme fraiche, or even some frozen vanilla yogurt. As with a lot of fruit enhanced cakes it actually gets better after a day or two. That’s certainly the case with the caramel version: my Aunt didn’t stop apologising about it being dry (it was no such thing of course, she’s just a very Southern, self-deprecating cook) until day three of its diminishing existence. Fresh out the tin it is light, but matured a few days it is super-moist and fudgey textured. Try both versions and be your own judge. You can see the top is crackly and light, even without the glaze.