The Bramley Apple, the unassailed Queen of the cooking apple, is said to originate in Nottinghamshire. The story tells that a young girl planted some wild pips in her back garden in Southwell, and that the ensuing tree was the first Bramley – from which all other Bramley trees orginate. That original tree still stands, I am told, and there is a stained-glass window in Southwell Minster to commemorate this most English of apples. (I really must check this out!). We had two huge Bramley apple trees, dating from Victorian times, in our garden as a child. One was lost to a great storm around 1977, the other still stands today. My father picked every last apple from those trees (and there were hundreds…) every Autumn and Bramleys are always in my memories of childhood meals.
It is said that Nottingham Pudding dates back to medieval times, when this satisfying mix of batter, fruit and spices frequently accompanied roast meats. Given our central place in England’s geography and the though-flow of people from all over Great Britian as they travelled from the North to the South and back for trade and for work, it is probably not surprising that we have absorbed influences from many different parts of the country. This pudding seems to me to be a bit of a Yorkshire Pudding come Clafoutis mash-up. The spices vary with the recipes, I used nutmeg, some suggest lemon zest and a “sweet spice”. I don’t think anyone will much mind, it will be delicious and satisfying whatever combination you use. I also peeled my apples, but next time I will leave the skins on.
(use your judgement on these measurements, depending on the flour you are using etc – plus, I am not very good at measuring and tend to go on instinct! 1 apple per person)
4 Evenly sized Bramley cooking apples, 75g unsalted butter, 75g soft brown sugar, approx 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, approx half teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg, 175g plain flour, cold water, 3 eggs, Pinch Salt, 450ml full fat milk (more or less)
Pre-heat oven to around 200C or 190C fan oven
Peel (or not) and core apples. Cream together the butter and sugar and add the nutmeg and cinnamon, or whichever spices you are using. Fill the centre of the apples with this mixture and place them in a large buttered oven-proof dish. It needs to be a deep dish so the batter can rise to almost cover the apples.
Blend the flour and salt with a little cold water and then add the eggs and enough milk to make a thick creamy batter (a tad thicker than a Yorkshire Pudding batter I would say). Pour this over the apples and bake in your pre-heated oven for around 45 minutes, until the apples are soft and oozy and the batter is risen. It should have a golden crisp surface and a soft centre. Serve immediately, with custard or cream. But beware, it will be extremely hot!