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 have found 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 these recipes.
Apple & Fig Compote
- 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 Apple & Fig Chocolate Sponge
Any selection of autumn fruit can be used in this recipe - pears, feijoa and late-season plums and peaches. 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.
- 4 apples - peeled and cored
- 5-6 figs
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 30 g butter
- 3 eggs
- ¼ cup sugar
- ⅓ cup flour
- ¼ cup cocoa powder
- 1 tsp mixed spice
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Cut the apples and figs 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.
*Recipe first published 18 March 2020 on Stuff.co.nz.