My friend Fiona has a property outside Tarago, which really isn't actually a farm, but a lot of bushland with house, garden and dams. We had a lovely dinner out there last night - Fiona made a slow roast leg of goat, with Moroccan spices, quite heavy on the cinnamon. It came out very tender, falling off the bone. We ate it with potatoes from her garden, fresh local corn, and a spicy carrot salad. Then in the morning we had pancakes, made bright yellow with eggs from the chickens who were scratching up the garden.
My contribution was a rustic apple cake for dessert. It's a Nigella Lawson recipe, from her Domestic Goddess book, and which was featured in the Canberra Times last Wednesday. I had all the ingredients on hand, especially the apples. These were a half dozen red delicious that I bought down the coast last week. I was optimistically thinking that as they were in season, glorious dark red, and unwaxed, they might be good. Disappointingly, they were terrible - floury tasteless rubbish. But even bad apples come good enough when cooked.
Recipe: Apple and Walnut Cake
75ml apple schnapps
150ml walnut oil
200g caster sugar
2 large eggs
350g self raising flour, sifted
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon myrtle
Cover the raisins with boiling water for a couple of minutes, then pour off and add the schnapps.
Peel, core and chop the apples. You want 450g prepared weight, after discarding the trimmings.
Beat oil and sugar well, and add eggs one at a time, whisking until it is mayonnaise like in texture. A stand mixer is useful here.
Fold in the dry ingredients, then add the apples, walnuts, raisins, and any of their remaining soaking liquid.
Dump the batter into a well-greased 20cm springform tin, and smooth the top.
Bake at 180C for 45mins-1 hour, until top is golden and a test skewer comes out clean. Pop some foil on top if it seems to be browning too quickly.
Leave in the tin for ten minutes before turning out onto a rack to cool.
Notes: Nigella's recipe uses 1 tsp cinnamon and the zest of a lemon; while I swapped in the cinnamon myrtle. Also she suggests rum where I used apple schnapps, and sultanas instead of raisins. According to the Canberra Times writer, other oils and nuts may be successfully substituted. And it's OK if the apples are partly precooked, too.
The batter really is quite thick, and it will not come out perfectly smooth on top unless you work harder on smoothing it than I did. It is beautifully moist, with the oil and fruit, and even better after a day's rest.