October 10, 2011

warm apples in caramel

This is not your typical celebratory dessert. It's not a cake, there are no candles, it's not complicated, but rather it's simple and seasonal and warm, just what we needed for our little celebration of sorts. The marking of time is always interesting with time feeling like it moved quickly or slowly and all based on an event in the past and the tracking of the little moments in between that event and the day that bears some significance - the year mark, the decade, the it's-too-long-ago to count backwards mark. Within the past week Zach and I stumbled upon two of these markers - he has lived in Switzerland for one year and we have been married for 6 months. These aren't must-toast type of occasions, but we recognized them none the less, reflecting back on last October when Zach started his new job and was eager to fill me in on every little detail of our new city and apartment. And then there is the 6 month anniversary. Zach commented that although we've been married for 6 months we've probably spent at least two of those months apart. With my visa issues and traveling back and forth it's probably true. But I'm here now, and thinking towards the year mark in April seems like a long way away. What will change? Will Zurich feel more like home? Will I have a steady routine or a job? It's too much to think about, better I just think about today, one day at a time for this expat.

I'm not sure what I would do without seasons. Seasons for me help mark the passing of time. If it was sunny and 75º everyday, would it feel like the same day over again? Would you notice the ebb and flow of the days and your life as much? Do you mark the years by new years day, which would likely be the same as every other day? I adore seasons. I don't think I could live without them. I wouldn't want to live without them. The weather here has shifted, it is cold and rainy and grey. The mountains have snow on them again. These are the things that allow me to grasp the fact that Zach really has been here a year. And that a lot of things have happened between then and now. That's how it goes I guess.

So on to the dessert - warm apples in caramel over toast (with ice cream if you wish). The apples themselves are super quick and easy and barely take any time at all. Easy as pie. Actually much easier than pie. No crust to make or roll out, no fancy designs, no baking, just apples with butter and sugar on the stove. And that's it.
Of course I made it a bit more complicated by making the bread too. I had seen this Easy Little Bread recipe and decided that easy bread went well with easy apples so I best make them both.
I've recently fallen in love with my kitchen scale. It's incredible. Of course it's much easier to use when recipes note the weights otherwise I have to search around the internet for the approximate weight of a cup of this or that. It really makes things easy. You just clear the scale before each new ingredient, allowing you to use one bowl for everything instead of nine-hundred little spoons and cups and measuring thingys. Try it. It's kinda fun and it's especially helpful if you live in metric land, stuck between grams and ounces.
It was one of those weekends where it was okay to stay inside. It was rainy and grey all day on Saturday and spotty on Sunday. Zach and I have recently become addicted to 'Words With Friends' the scrabble app. Sure we play with friends back home, but we also play with each other, sometimes two games at once. Zach has won almost all of the games (grumble) managing to eek out over 40 points on most of his words, while I'm excited if I get anywhere over 20. Have you ever seen one word get over 80 points? Me either, until Zach played 'cronies' for 87 points in a game against our friend Perrin - Per good luck coming back from that one. Oh and it's the perfect thing to do while you're waiting for the bread to rise (I place the loaf pan over the pre-heated oven since our kitchen is fairly cold).
Early Autumn Apples on Toast
from Nigel Slater - Tender Volume II

4 small dessert apples
3 plums (optional, I used them because I had them lying around)
a little lemon juice
50g/ 1/2 stick of butter
2 heaping tablespoons of golden caster sugar or superfine sugar
a handful of raisins
a knifepoint of ground cinnamon
Toast slices (1 - 2 per person depending on the size of your bread) made from hearty whole wheat or nut and raisin bread

Quarter the apples then core them. Leave the skin on. Slice the apples thickly (8 slices per apple) and the toss them with the lemon juice, which will help keep them from browning. Do the same for the plums and add to the apples.

Melt the butter in a shallow pan. Before it froths stir in the sugar and leave it to bubble for a minute or two. Add in the apples/plums and let them cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft. Stir in the raisins and cinnamon

Have the toast ready. As soon as the apples are soft and lightly coated in caramel, tip them over the toast. A dollop of ice cream is never a bad idea!

easy little bread recipe from this book
1 cup plain flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats (not instant)
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups warm water
2 tsp dry yeast
1 tbsp honey
a handful of raisins (my own addition)
oil and butter for greasing the pan

Preheat your oven to 350ºF/180ºC

Mix flours, oats and salt together.

Mix yeast into warm water until dissolved then stir in honey.

Pour wet mixture into dry mixture and mix well. Grease an 8cup loaf pan (9x5x3) and pour dough into the pan. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let it rest for thirty minutes or until it has doubled in size. Bake for 35-40 minutes.
We ate it all. There were no apples left. I'm actually not sure how many people it was supposed to serve, but it served us just fine!

The season of eating is upon us, and I love it! Dreaming of turkey and stuffing already. I hear it's beautiful on the East Coast so perhaps you don't feel the urge to bundle up and stay inside and eat warm apples...but you will...soon enough! Enjoy the last of the sun while you can.


  1. Another delicious recipe! We had a rainy weekend here, too, and it was a welcome break from feeling like we *had* to be outside. I love Words with Friends... look out!

  2. Sometimes I don't think I FEEL seasons as much as TASTE them. Nothing tastes like more like fall than apples (and a soy chai). So looking forward to making this when I return home (sans oat bread-damn you celiacs disease!)

  3. This looks so yummy! After living in SoCal for 3 years, I couldn't agree more about seasons (though I did enjoy walking on the beach barefoot in January.) I saw that easy little bread recipe, too. Is it so delicious? It looks fantastic, but those apple would make anything taste heavenly! Yum yum yum!

  4. Ali - so about the mini loaf. It's good...I wasn't blown away and I'm not entirely sure I'll make it again. But it was easy and it was hearty and if eaten warm, right out of the oven, it's good. I also made it with whatever oats I had in my cupboard, which I think was a mix of 5 different types, so I should probably try it with just plain oats.

    I think Kerry would agree with you about being able to dip your feet in the ocean in January! But I think she'd pick seasons too!

    Darcy - isn't sitting inside just the best sometimes? love it!

    Ker - just make it and eat it all yourself! and then go get a vegan froyo, or two, one for me and one for you.