A quirky new café opened recently at the village shopping centre just five minutes from The Blue House, so Peter and I were quite eager to check it out. To our delight, we discovered that the service is cheerful and prompt, the food is fresh and tasty, as is the coffee — and there's a delicious selection of reasonably priced cakes and slices. Needless to say, we've popped in a few times already.
It didn't take me long to find out that the baked goods are ordered in, most likely from a large-scale bakehouse in the big smoke in Sydney. We've seen the same products in other cafés in the area, though dearer, I might add. That said, each cake or slice that we've sampled thus far has been nothing short of delicious. One of my favourites is an apple and macadamia slice. Of course, me being me, I wanted to create my own version at home. My friends at Australian Macadamias keep me in good supply of those tasty morsels, and heritage apple grower, Borry Gartrell, sent me home with a massive bag of frozen sliced Bramley apples when we visited his Borrodell vineyard and orchard in Orange NSW a few months ago. So, here we have my very own recipe for homestyle Bramley apple macadamia slice.
BRAMLEY APPLE AND MACADAMIA SLICE
550g peeled, sliced and cored Bramley or other cooking apple*
2/3 cup vanilla infused caster sugar
230g unsalted butter, softened
3 free range eggs
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
230g plain (AP) flour
4g ground vanilla bean powder (or two dried beans, finelyground)
1/2 cup macadamia nuts, lightly roasted, roughly chopped
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease a 22 x 22cm square baking pan and line it neatly with baking paper. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then add the lemon zest. Using a spatula, fold in the flour and the ground vanilla bean powder. Spread just over half the mixture into the base of the prepared pan. Top evenly with the apple. Spoon the remaining batter over the top of the apple. Try to spread it evenly, but don't worry if it doesn't cover completely, as it will spread as it cooks. Sprinkle over the ground macadamia nuts. Bake for 30-45 minutes until golden brown. Serve cut into squares and dusted with icing sugar. Store in an airtight container.
* You can used fruit that has been frozen from the last season, or fresh Bramley apple if you have access to it. If all other possibilities fail, use unsweetened preservative-free canned pie apple. A combination of fresh Granny Smith and Delicious apples will also make for a good consistency.
Tell me dear readers, do you ever try to recreate cakes, desserts or other dishes that you've enjoyed in a restaurant or café? What's been the biggest challenge to cook at home? What was the most successful?
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