When it comes to cooking, all apples (and there are lots of ‘em!) aren’t created equal. The glossy green Granny smith is arguably the best apple for cooking, especially in purées and sauces. Its natural tartness makes it ideal for relishes. golden delicious apples have juicy, aromatic flesh and are perfect to use when you want apples to hold their shape after cooking (as in our cider-roasted spatchcock). They are also suited to apple tarts and could be used in place of Braeburns in the apple, ginger and almond cake. Crisp and juicy braeburns, with a pink-red blush against green skin, are great baking apples, although some would argue they are best enjoyed when eaten raw. Another blushing variety is the pink lady, a cross between golden delicious and Lady Williams. A very popular eating apple, its firm dense flesh also holds up well to caramelising, baking and for use in pies. Dark red and elongated, red delicious are the least suited to cooking. They’re best put to use thinly sliced raw through salads, where their sweetness is beautifully offset with a piquant dressing. Other great cooking apples include cox’s orange pippin, lady williams and, if you can get your hands on them, crabapples, which make the finest tarte Tatin you could hope to eat (look out for the John Downie variety).
- 2 Jonathan apples, cored and thinly sliced
- 50 gm muscatels or raisins, soaked overnight in 2 tbsp brandy
- 6 eggs
- 500 ml pouring cream
- 430 ml milk (1¾ cup)
- 60 ml brandy (¼ cup)
- 110 gm caster sugar (½ cup)
- 2 tbsp finely grated orange rind
- For dusting: demerara sugar
- 250 gm plain flour (12/3 cup)
- 50 gm caster sugar
- 7 gm dry yeast (1 sachet)
- 50 ml warm milk
- 3 eggs, at room temperature
- 250 gm very soft butter
- 1For brioche, preheat oven to 190C. Combine flour, sugar, yeast and a pinch of sea salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Combine milk and eggs in a separate bowl, whisk to combine. With mixer on low setting, add egg mixture and mix to combine. Increase speed to high and beat for 2-3 minutes, then add butter, a little at a time, beating to incorporate before adding more butter. Beat for 1-2 minutes or until smooth and shiny, then cover with plastic wrap, stand in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size. Knock dough back and place in a lightly buttered 10cm x 24cm loaf pan, stand for 30 minutes or until doubled in size. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until dark golden. Stand in pan for 5 minutes, turn onto a wire rack to cool.
- 2Preheat oven to 180C. Slice brioche thickly, trimming crusts, then cut into 1.5cm cubes. Place in a single layer on an oven tray and cook for 5-6 minutes, shaking tray occasionally, until toasted and golden.
- 3Reduce oven temperature to 160C. Divide brioche among 6 lightly buttered 1¼ cup-capacity ovenproof bowls, placing slices of apple and muscatels or raisins between brioche pieces. Whisk eggs, cream, milk, brandy, sugar and orange rind together in a bowl and pour over brioche (you’ll have some mixture left over). Stand for 10-15 minutes so the brioche absorbs the custard, top up with remaining custard, scatter with Demerara sugar and bake for 12-15
minutes or until custard is firm and brioche is golden. Stand for 10 minutes before serving.