• Food

A guide to British apples

  • 05.10.2017

Autumn is upon us, and now’s the time to embrace brilliant British produce – starting with our guide to locally grown apples, and a moreish cake that’s made to be enjoyed while curled up with a cuppa.
Bramley applesBramley
The UK’s most popular cooking apple, the yellowish-green bramley is a mainstay of autumn crumbles and pies. Very sour when raw, it becomes golden and fluffy when cooked – just add sugar to balance the tartness.

Aka cox’s orange pippin, this early British cultivar was introduced in the 19th century by Richard Cox, a retired brewer from London. It has a honeyed-but-tart flavour and is delicious eaten raw alongside salty cheeses, or in cakes and tart tatin.

Find this jewel-hued variety in the UK from October. Its deep purple skin hides a clean white flesh that’s sweet and fragrant, with hints of raspberry. Scatter slices around pork belly and roast with rosemary and thyme.

These reddish-green fruits have a crisp, juicy texture and subtle pear-drop aroma. When cooked, they hold their shape and don’t release too much liquid, so they’re ideal arranged on top of a classic apple tart. A Kiwi import, they’ve been widely grown in the UK since the 1990s, but have a slow growing season, so look out for them from November.

ApplesHowgate wonder 
This large cooking apple has a sharp flavour that, although not ideal for eating, produces an excellent juice or cider. Look out for these later in the season, from November.

Hailing from Japan, this small blushed-pink apple has a beautifully crisp, refreshing flavour, so would make a good addition to your lunchbox.

ApplesEgremont russet 
Small, rough-textured and yellow-brown in colour, the egremont russet may not be the prettiest apple in the bowl, but it has a lovely nutty flavour and sweet scent. It’s worth seeking out – try juicing it.

Now try this…

Apple cakeApple molasses cake
Stodgy in the best sense, moreish, dark brown with a deep, comforting flavour. Bramleys work well here.

Ingredients (serves 12)

  • 250g flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • 150g soft light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 150ml olive oil
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3cm-round piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 3 cooking apples, such as Bramleys, peeled and diced
  • Butter, for greasing
  • 125g butter, at room temperature
  • 5 tbsp honey
  • A small handful of almonds, roughly chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Sift the flour into a bowl with the cinnamon and cloves.
  2. In a separate large bowl, mix the molasses, sugar, eggs and oil. Add the flour mixture, baking powder and soda, then mix. Fold in the ginger and apple.
  3. Butter a standard-sized loaf tin and pour the cake mix in. Smooth the top  and bake for about 1 hour or until a skewer inserted in the thickest part comes out clean. If the top looks like it’s browning too quickly, cover with foil. Remove from the oven and cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. For the icing, beat the butter and honey with an electric mixer until fluffy. Lavish it over the cake, sprinkle over the almonds and serve with a cup of tea.

Per serving 412 cals, 24.2g fat (7.9g saturated), 4.3g protein, 43.4g carbs, 28.6g sugars

Photography by Yuki Sugiura, recipe by Anna Jones. Click here to save 35% on a subscription to Jamie, wherever you are in the world. 

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