I love autumn with sweet young mussels, crisp new season almonds, wild mushrooms, pomegranates, Clementine’s, chard, rhubarb, late blackberries, early apples etc all coming into season– could there be a better time of the year to shop for food?

There is, perhaps, no ingredient more representative of autumn than a crisp, sweet-acidic, juicy apple. They have been around for over 4,000 years and their widespread popularity of apples is reflected in the incredible number of varieties available to us. It is estimated there are well over 7,500 types of apple grown around the world with an incredible array of colours, shapes, textures and tastes. They all contain Vitamin C, which aid’s the immune system and helps reduce cholesterol, they are low in calories, prevent tooth decay and they are also known for their antioxidant effects.

They are also essential ingredients for any curious cook as they liven up so many recipes sweet and savoury and combine so well with loads of other flavours. Choose apples that are firm and unblemished. The old adage "a bad apple spoils the barrel" has a scientific basis: Apples emit ethylene gas, which accelerates the ripening process. The riper they are, the more ethylene they produce, which can rot other produce stored nearby.

They have a natural affinity with pork, cabbage, cinnamon, almonds, hazelnuts, saffron, blackberries, cloves and sage. They are also perfect partners for beetroot, hard cheese and rhubarb. A fantastic way to enjoy all the freshness and vitality of apples is to eat them straight from the fruit basket or simply juice them. A perfect way to kick start any autumn day!

FIG, APPLE & PEAR CHUTNEY

Prep time: 20 mins
Cooking time: 45 minutes

Ingredients
250g fresh figs
200g apples (peeled, cored and diced)
200g pears (peeled, cored and diced)
2 red onions, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
Juice of 2 oranges
250g brown sugar
250ml cider vinegar
1tbsp olive oil
Seasoning

For the spice mix
2 star anise
8 cardamom seeds
1tspn fennel seeds
1tspn ground cinnamon
A pinch of nutmeg

Place all the spices in a grinder and pulse to a course powder. Puree the figs with a blender. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and add the chopped onions and garlic. Cook for 1-2 minutes over a gentle heat to soften without colouring and add the spice mixture oranges juice, vinegar & sugar. Bring to the boil and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the fig puree, diced apples and pears, and then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook over a gentle heat with a lid on for 35-40 minutes until the chutney has a thick, syrupy consistency. Divide the mixture among sterilised jars, seal and keep for up to 3-4 weeks in the refrigerator.

APPLE CUPCAKES WITH CINNAMON TOPPING

Prep time: 35 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

Related news

Ingredients (Makes 10 cupcakes)
2 peeled & diced apples
Juice of 2 lemons
A pinch of cinnamon
2tbsp sugar

For the basic cup cake mix
120g butter, softened
120g self raising flour
1tsp baking powder
110g sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbsp milk

For the topping
140g butter, softened
280g icing sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon
2bsp milk

Place the diced apples in a saucepan with the sugar, the lemon juice, and the cinnamon. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and simmer until the apples are soft. Drain the liquid away and mash the apples lightly with a fork. Set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 180C and line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases. Divide the cooked apples between the cases. Cream the butter and sugar together in a food processor until pale. Beat in the eggs a little at a time. Remove to a clean bowl and gently fold in the flour and baking powder using a large spoon, adding a little milk until the mixture is of a dropping consistency. Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until they are half full. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until golden-brown on top and a skewer inserted into one of the cakes comes out clean. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack.

For the Topping, beat the butter in a large bowl until soft. Add half the icing sugar, cinnamon and beat until smooth. Then add the remaining icing sugar with one tablespoon of the milk, adding more milk if necessary, until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Spoon the topping into a piping bag with a star nozzle and pipe the topping using a spiraling motion onto the cup cakes in a large swirl.

APPLE, BLUEBERRY & ALMOND CAKE

Prep time: 25 mins
Cooking time: 40 mins

Ingredients (Serves 8)

130g unsalted butter, softened
125g sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
50g ground almond
100g self-raising flour
2 red apples, peeled and cored, each cut into 12 segments
150g blueberries

Preheat the oven to 160C. Butter a 22cm round loose-bottomed cake tin and line the base with baking parchment. Cream the butter and sugar together in the 5160 food processor using the dough hook until it is light and fluffy. Gradually pour in and beat the eggs, a little at a time, adding a little flour if it curdles. On the lowest setting, gently fold in the ground almonds and finally the flour, and combine everything without overworking. Turn the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth it out evenly. Scatter with sliced apples and blueberries and bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and turn out on to a wire rack to cool. Serve in slices.