We have a tradition of dividing our apples into two groups: cookers and eaters (actually, there is a third - cider apples). Cooking apples (Bramleys being the most widely available) contain lots of malic acid, which gives them a sharp, tangy taste. It also ensures the flesh collapses into a fluffy mush when cooked - perfect for pies and crumbles, and a host of other dishes.
Peel, core and finely slice the apples - be thorough, as any little bits of fibre left from the core or peel will catch in your teeth and spoil the pleasure of the otherwise silky compote.
Put the apples in a large pan and add a good tablespoon of sugar and 2-3 tablespoons of water - just to stop them catching on the bottom of the pan. Cook, covered, over a gentle heat, stirring often, until the apple pieces have completely dissolved and you have a thick, slightly translucent purée. It should take about half an hour.
Add more caster sugar to taste - enough to achieve a purée that is still erring on the tart side but not unpleasantly so. You can always add sugar when you serve it up, and in fact the slight graininess of just-sprinkled caster sugar on the compote is a pleasure in itself.
Leave to cool completely, then store in the fridge in a jar or Tupperware container. It will keep for a couple of weeks.
Keep the compote tart. Whip up an equal quantity of double or whipping cream and sweeten with a little icing or caster sugar. Lightly swirl the cream into the compote, keeping it rippled. Pile into glasses and chill before serving with a sweet, crumbly biscuit, such as shortbread.
- 2kg Bramley or other cooking apples
- 2-8 tbsp caster sugar
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