Along the Grapevine


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Crabapple Whisky Cake

Recently I was thinking of baking with some of my store of applesauce, when it occurred to me I should also use some of my crabapple sauce for a change. Quite by chance I came across a recipe which did exactly that, thereby saving me a lot of time and effort by not having to create my own.

I had been picking crabapples even after the frost, so I was relieved to learn someone else does it, and it really is OK. They don’t look that great on the tree, but for cooking purposes it is quite safe to do so. So if you have some of these shrivelled little fruits to pick, here is a perfect way to use them.

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I followed the recipe which you can find here   (as well as some interesting facts about crabapples), using the cinnamon and nutmeg instead of spice berries, regular walnuts instead of black walnuts, and the whisky which I thought made it suitable for a Robbie Burns dinner this weekend, but it is delicious enough you can forego the liquor all together if you wish.

The crabapples give the cake more fruit flavour than regular apples would, and the spices and nuts add even more to the rich flavours.

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I baked it in a large bundt pan which took about 75 minutes to bake, longer than the recipe calls for, but times will vary depending on the shape of your pan.

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If using a pan like this, it is important to grease it very well to make removing the cake easy.

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It would be delicious served with whipped or clotted cream, but we chose to have it neat.

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Now that I know just how good crabapple sauce is in making, I might just have to work on more recipes, but I doubt I could beat this one. Easy to make, delicious, keeps well, it is a keeper.

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Linked to Angie at Fiesta Friday, Sonal at Simply Vegetarian and Petra at Food Eat Love.


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Whisky Sumac Hot Toddy

It is still winter here in SE Ontario, not much happening on the foraging front – the landscape looks like a white desert – except for the odd oasis of red staghorn sumac.

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I can’t imagine either the winter or the sumac will be around much longer, but with nothing else around I ventured across snow dunes in search of food. The berries aren’t quite as red as they were in the summer, but they are still tasty and easy to harvest. Once the rain starts, they will lose much of their flavour, and I expect finally disappear to make room for new growth. At least, I hope so.

I made another batch of dried sumac and a few cups of sumac juice – which incidentally makes a lovely hot tea on these cold afternoons, and now that I think of them as a desert fruit, the tea tastes very much like red date tea. But as a recipe for Angie’s Fiesta Friday, I wanted to turn it into a festive drink – and I had to make it hot to counter the bitter cold we are still experiencing.

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The recipe is very simple, but as tasty as any whisky cocktail I have had in a bar – just a lot less expensive. I used Canadian rye, but whatever you use, I would not mix a complex and highly flavoured whiskey. I decided on this recipe because, not only is it cold, but many people are fighting off flus and colds, and what better remedy than a hot toddy with honey and ginger!

Whisky Sumac Hot Toddy

For the syrup:

1 1/2 cup sumac juice

1 inch of fresh ginger, sliced

1 heaping Tbsp honey

Mash the ginger with a pestle in the pot. Add the sumac juice and heat. Add the honey and simmer for about five minutes. If you like it sweeter, add more honey.

For the toddy

1/2 cup sumac syrup

1 1/2 ounces whisky

1/4 tsp angostura bitters

Pour the whisky into a glass or mug. Strain the hot sumac syrup into it and add the angostura bitters. Stir and serve.

I served this with freshly popped popcorn, flavoured with oil, salt and sumac powder. The syrup is also very good on its own if you are not up for the whisky hot toddy.

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