Every year we anticipate the arrival of Discovery apples: the fragrant first variety of the English season. They signify the start of the autumn harvest, a plentiful time of year, while their colour reflects the leaves starting to fall from the trees.
Other early varieties include Windsor and Scrumptious, which are best eaten straight away, then comes later varieties like Crimson Crisp, which is picked in October and stores well through the winter.
This Veg Hack recipe combines three straightforward ways of using apples into one breakfast dish: apples are grated in bircher oats, cooked in honey and butter as a topping, and made into a spiced baked purée in a true celebration of the British apple season.
Each recipe can be made independently, too. The two toppings would each work well with Greek yogurt, on top of porridge, or with ice cream or custard as a dessert.
Bircher oats with honeyed apples and roast apple purée
Serves 2, Prep 5 mins, plus an overnight soak
Bircher oats can best be described as a cold, fruity porridge. The oats and apple are steeped in liquid overnight, plumping and softening. This version is all about the apples. They are grated raw into the traditional bircher mix, and we’ve added two possible toppings. Try one, the other, or both.
A bircher base
Add the following toppings to your usual bircher overnight oats or porridge recipe.
These are best served warm, but can be stored in the fridge for a few days.
1½ tbsp butter
2 tbsp runny honey
Core the apples and cut each one into 12 equal wedges.
Warm the butter in a large frying pan and add the apples. Cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes, turning often, until starting to soften.
Add the honey and cook for a final 5 minutes, until they are sticky and caramelised.
Serve warm straight from the pan or lay out on baking parchment to cool.
Baked apple purée
This process gives a straightforward and intensely-flavoured purée with a rose-red blush to it from the skins. Nothing but apples and a scant pinch of salt – strangely, when used sparingly, the salt will increase the sweetness rather than make it taste savoury.
4 large red apples
small pinch of fine sea salt
¼ tsp allspice – optional
1 lemon - optional
Preheat your oven to 200˚C. Remove and discard the cores from all four apples. Keep them whole and place them in a roasting tray – although it doesn’t feel right, you don’t need any oil or butter. Roast for 30 minutes, until blistered and soft.
Throw the apples into a food processor and whizz into a purée. Tip it into a fine sieve and use a spatula or the back of a ladle to encourage the purée through.
Add a very small pinch of salt and mix well. Add a little allspice if you want some warm spicing, and a little squeeze of lemon if you’d like it sharper.
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This Veg Hack article was originally published in Wicked Leeks magazine, the autumn issue 2020. You can read the full magazine for free on Issuu.