The thought of sharing these moments with both my Mum and my daughter, the idea of instilling in Mialina the values of eating real food from the earth and enjoying the process of sharing in preparation and eating a meal, brings tears of happiness to my eyes.
Last weekend my Mum, Mialina and I ventured out to Bilpin in The Hawkesbury region, just over two hour’s drive from Sydney, to pick some orchard-fresh apples. It was a beautiful day to be outdoors – despite it being Autumn the sky was blue and the sun warm. We arrived to find some of the last Pink Lady apples still adorning the smaller trees, Granny Smiths beginning to blush gently making it easier to pick them from amongst their green leaves and the juiciest Sundowners being nicely ripe for the picking.
We spent the late afternoon processing some of the 15kg apple haul from the orchard – Mum saying “there’s not too much” while staring at the overflowing pot of fruit, but she’s a seasoned preserver.
And for that I am glad.
I am not sure how I would do life as it is now without her help – with just Mialina, Kasha the dog and I. I’m sure I would manage somehow, but the home would feel more lonely. I would probably struggle to meet deadlines or I would have to put Mialina in daycare to meet them and finish the manuscript for my second book that way. Luckily, it has been sent off and I’m just about done shooting remaining images of the delicious, mostly plant-based recipes. I am so grateful for being able to do this while having Mialina at home. In all of this, we’ve made sure that Matt still spends a handful of afternoons or mornings with Mia, he’s still Mia’s Dad and will continue to be present in our lives that way. We aim to keep their relationship going and work together on providing the best foundation for it to flourish, and for ours to remain good.
I think this apple picking will become Mialina’s and my tradition for years to come. Picking fresh apples from the orchard in the last days of Autumn then peeling them, stewing the Granny Smiths with some plums, quinces, vanilla and tonka bean for an Apple Charlotte we’ll bake together. Leftovers will be canned and frozen. The rest, mostly the Sundowners, will be enjoyed fresh. We’ll cook the skins in water and blend to make an apple nectar to drink.
The whole house will smell like .
The thought of sharing these moments with both my Mum and my daughter, the idea of instilling in her the values of eating real food from the earth and enjoying the process, the sharing in preparation and eating a meal, brings tears of happiness to my eyes.
Our Apple-picking Tradition
We’ll start off at the Pink Lady trees with their easy to reach low-hanging fruit. We’ll also pick up some of the apples that fall to the ground so that they don’t spoil.
Then, when you’re a little older, we’ll pick Sundowners together. I might need to help you reach for the ones hanging a little higher, but you’ll do well finding the ones in front of you, too. We’ll also pick up some of the apples that fall to the ground so that they don’t spoil.
And then, one day, when we visit the orchard and go to the Granny Smiths I’ll need YOUR help to reach for the apples hanging a little higher. And together, and with your help we’ll also pick up some of the apples that fall to the ground so that they don’t spoil.
I simply cannot wait. I cannot wait to create memories of togetherness, of adventure and exploration with you little one. I love you so much, Mama x
Spelt Apple Charlotte
- For the Topping:
- 1 cup spelt flour
- 1/3 cup unrefined sugar I used demerara
- 100 g cold butter or coconut oil
For the Stewed Apples:
- 750 g apples, peeled, cored and sliced finely I used Granny Smiths
- 2 tablespoons butter or coconut oil
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder
- 1 tonka bean, grated on a zester
For the Base:
- 3 eggs
- ⅓ cup unrefined sugar I used demerara
- 1/2 tsp vanilla powder
- ¼ tsp sea salt flakes
- 2 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- 180 g butter or coconut oil melted
- 1.5 cups wholemeal spelt flour
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp unrefined icing sugar
To make the Topping:
- Place flour, sugar or natvia and butter in a bowl. Rub together with your fingers until rough crumbs form. If the dough comes together into a ball, that's ok too - you can pinch bits off and crumble over the cake later. Place in the fridge while you prepare the apples and the base.
For the Stewed Apples:
- Place apples in a medium saucepan. Add butter or coconut oil, vanilla, grated tonka bean and 1/2 cup water. Bring to the boil over medium heat, then cover, reduce heat to low and simmer gently for 15 minutes, stirring often, for the apples to soften. Once ready, remove the lid and set aside to cool.
For the Base:
- Using an electric mixer on high, beat eggs, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and cloves until pale and fluffy, and roughly doubled in size. Reduce speed to medium and pour in melted butter or coconut oil in a slow and steady stream. Reduce speed to low and add flour and baking powder, mix only until it is incorporated.
- Line a 20cm x 30cm edged baking tray with baking paper. Pour base batter into the tin and spread evenly with a wooden spoon. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the base from the oven and dot around with a fork. Spread with the apple mixture and dot with pinches of the topping mixture. Bake for a further 30-35 minutes, until the pastry is starting to turn golden.
- Once ready, remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack before dusting with icing sugar. Serve warm or store cooled cake in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.