1st April, 2020


It is common knowledge that I can’t let ripe fruit go to waste. So it is not unusual to find a bag of fruit on my doorstep or to get an offer to freely pick from a neighbour’s tree (although not while we are in lockdown). With a backyard of fruit trees myself, I am not exactly looking for more fruit, but I can’t turn down a kind offer and enjoy trying different fruit varieties.

I find that most backyard and wild apples are happy cookers that soften easily once cooked. These are often older heritage varieties such as cox’s orange, golden delicious and Sturmer Pippin. When buying store-bought apples for cooking, a rule of thumb is to opt for more tart and greener-hued apples such as Braeburn and granny smith.

When apples and figs appeared at my doorstep a few weeks ago this is what they became. You could also use pear, feijoa or late-season peaches and plums in the following recipes.

Apple & Fig Compote

We call this apple sauce in our house (a nod to my Dutch heritage), but to save confusion I have called it compote because it isn't exactly a sauce for pouring. Apples form the base of the compote and can be used alone, or add a quarter to a third other fruit such as figs, pears or feijoas. The compote can be used to top porridge or muesli or swirl through yoghurt for an afternoon snack. Quantities can be increased or decreased to suit, using about three parts apples to one part figs.
Servings 2 x 400g jars
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes


  • About 750g cooking apples - see above
  • About 250g figs
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp cinnamon - optional


  • Note: I use a mouli (food mill) to puree the fruit, and separate out the tough core and skins. If you don't have one, then remove the apple cores before cooking and use a stick blender to puree.
  • Cut the apples into eighths, removing bruises or blemishes. Quarter the figs. Place the fruit into a saucepan and add the water and cinnamon. Cover with a lid and cook on a low heat for around 30 minutes until the fruit is soft. Stir a few times during this time.
  • Cool, then puree through a mouli, or use a stick blender. Scoop into jars or plastic containers (if freezing). Store in the fridge and use within five days, or freeze for up to six months.

Caramelised Autumn Fruit Chocolate Sponge

Any selection of autumn fruit can be used in this recipe - pears, feijoa, figs, and late-season plums and peaches (or even preserved/canned fruit). There is no raising agent in this recipe, so it relies on the air trapped in the beaten egg and sugar. Careful mixing is required or the sponge can collapse in the oven, though that's not exactly a bad thing with this dessert, so you can't really go wrong. However, if you don't have a stand mixer or electric beaters then whisk the eggs and sugar together by hand for several minutes until foaming and add 1 teaspoon baking powder to the mix or it won't rise.
Servings 6 people
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes


  • 4 apples - peeled and cored (or use 800g total autumn fruit)
  • 5-6 figs
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 30 g butter
  • 3 eggs
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • cup (50g) flour (can use gluten-free flour - use the weight rather than the volume)
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp mixed spice


  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  • Cut the fruit into 3cm chunks. Spread into the base of an oven-proof skillet or dish, and add the first measure of sugar and dot with butter. Place in the oven and cook for 10 minutes, then stir and cook for another 5-10 minutes until the fruit is beginning to soften and caramelise.
  • Meanwhile, make the sponge. In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, add the eggs and ¼ cup of sugar, and beat on medium until pale and thick, about five minutes.
  • Sift together the flour, cocoa powder and spice, then use a spatula to carefully fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture until just combined, being careful not to over mix.
  • Quickly pour the sponge batter over the hot fruit. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the sponge bounces back when gently pressed.
  • Serve hot or cold with yoghurt or cream.

Join the Conversation

  1. sue brillard says:

    Perfect chocolate sponge on top of a variety of autumnal fruits, feijoas and also quinces and apples using each time my trusty cast iron frypan. Thanks Nicola.

    1. Hi Sue
      That is wonderful to hear. I am looking forward to making with our feijoas when they start – any day now!
      Enjoy, Nicola

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