Image by Holly Bell
I love a glut challenge. Any time I'm faced with a lot of any food stuff I come over all war time housewife. I don an apron (which almost never happens, is it just me or do they instantly make one look five months pregnant?) and disappear off to the spare room, which is now the baby's room, though you wouldn't know it. It holds an enormous roof box, lots of Christmas presents, 10kg fondant icing and many, many empty jam jars just waiting to be filled with chutney, relish, jam.
Our first born son didn't have to sleep between the 'Driving in France kit' and a filing cabinet bursting with old copies of Waitrose magazine. First born slept amongst John Lewis' finest. Poor third child. Maybe he'll be the best middle class chef France has ever seen by way of osmosis.
So this year when given a cider-y amount of apples I found myself hankering after baked goods to squirrel away rather than chutney. I don't know why. I think I might be spoiling for something. My freezer is my preserving jar this Autumn. Full to the brim with these cupcakes. They defrost very well indeed and are, I think, a suitable lunch box cake if left un-iced. Of course come Christmas when we only have beetroot relish and no apple chutney at all I might well regret this decision, but for now I'm standing by it.
You could of course add pecans, toasted almonds, chopped and toasted hazelnuts, raisins, dried figs, dried cherries, whatever takes your fancy. I am sworn off adding nuts to anything that might be child friendly after a Facebook 'fan' got a bit uppity about yet another recipe I'd posted that contained nuts. I considered apologising and then remembered Kate Moss' old adage 'never apologise, never explain'. A mantra for life. And she's alright isn't she? I'd buy her a pint.
175mls oil (sunflower, groundnut, rapeseed - anything flavourless but beware extra virgin olive oil as it has a strong flavour and not everyone likes it in baked goods)
180g muscavado sugar
170g self raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
3 large eggs, at room temperature
160g grated apple (cooking or eating)
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinammon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
Preheat the oven to gas 4/180C and line a 12 hole cupcake tin with large cupcake cases or muffin cases. Once the oven has preheated mix all the ingredients together with a wooden spoon until there aren't any lumps or traces of egg yolk visible. Pay particular attention to the sugar as it can sit in lumps. Spoon into the cases evenly and bake for 20 - 25 minutes until well risen and a toothpick comes out of the middle of the centre cupcakes clean. Cool on a wire rack out of the tin.
A word about icing...
Should you wish to make some buttercream (like the picture) then a very good recipe that works well with these cakes is 125g room temperature butter beaten until really soft and creamy, then add 250g sifted icing sugar, a tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. Lastly add 2tbsp Monin gingerbread syrup and beat well again for 7 minutes using a stand or hand mixer until really light, creamy and flecked with air like mousse. Then use a knife to plaster the top of each cupcake with icing and sprinkle with gingerbread men sprinkles. If you don't want to invest in gingerbread syrup (though it is very good in coffee and frankly any Christmas related baked good) then use 1 tbsp vanilla extract with 1/4 tsp cinnamon and a little grated nutmeg (barely 1/8 tsp). Keep tasting (oh the hardship) to make sure you're happy with the flavour.
Holly blogs at Recipes from a Normal Mum
Her first book is out now, also called Recipes from a Normal Mum