Raf’s apple butter and caramel rolls

My lovely daughter had a party, and someone bought these delicious apple butter and caramel rolls. They are very sticky, and the cider vinegar elevates the apple butter to complement the caramel stickiness. The technique is a bit like making a tarte tatin, in that it is cooked upside-down and turned over to reveal the sugary fruity nutty topping. 


For the apple butter:

  • 4 tart eating apples, or cooking apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
  • 115ml apple cider
  • 75g light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • a generous grating of nutmeg, around 1/4 tsp
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • a pinch of salt
  • 55g butter (use vegan ‘butter’ as a substitute)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice

For the caramel

  • 175g dark brown sugar
  • 85g butter
  • 100g walnuts or pecans. If you are using walnuts and they are a bit bitter, soak them in water first.

For the yeasted dough

  • 480ml milk
  • 120g butter
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 8g dried yeast
  • 700g strong plain white flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 100g dark brown sugar


  • Mix the chopped apples with the spices, salt and cider and simmer slowly over a low heat, for about an hour. Check and stir regularly to make sure they are not burning. Add a little water if the mixture is beginning to stick. 
  • When the apples are very very soft, use a blender, and return the puree back to the pan and simmer it until it is a thick creamy consistency. 
  • Beat in the butter and lemon juice, to taste. Put it in a wee jar and chill in the fridge. This can be used as a spread in its own right. 
  • Make the pecan caramel sauce. Mix the butter and sugar in a saucepan and warm until everything is dissolved and smooth. Add the nuts and pour into a greased baking tray and leave to cool. The baking tray should be quite deep, and measure around 33cm by 23cm.
  • Make the dough. Melt the butter into the milk and sugar, and leave until it is just warm. 
  • Sprinkle in the yeast and stir it in. Leave in a warm place until the yeast is beginning to bubble.
  • Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the milk mixture and mix well to make a sticky messy dough. Don’t bother trying to kneed it at this stage.
  • Cover the dough bowl with a damp teatowel, and leave in a warm room for up to an hour, until it has puffed up. This is a good time to set the oven to preheat to 180C.
  • Knock back the dough, and kneed it until it is stretchy and elastic. Stretch and roll it into an oblong, about 30cm by 60cm, and about 1cm thick. If it is not behaving, leave it to relax for a few minutes and have another go. You might need a dusting of flour on your surfaces to stop the dough from sticking. 
  • Spread half the apple butter onto the dough and sprinkle on the dark brown sugar. Roll the dough up lengthways, swiss roll style, to make a long snake. Don’t squeeze at all, because the apple butter needs to stay in the roll. 
  • Slice the snaky roll up into 15 slices
  • Arrange the dough slices like rosettes on top of the nutty caramel, 3 rows of 5, and leave to rest for around 20 to 30 minutes
  • Bake at 180C for around 30 minutes. 
  • Turn out onto a larger tray, while hot, and before the caramel sets, and leave to cool. 
  • Serve with extra apple butter. 

Spicy apple muffins, dairy free

This is Gemma Patterson’s adaptation from the dairy free cookbook


  • 170g of plain flour or rice flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 140g Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Mixed Spice
  • 2 large Free Range eggs
  • 300ml apple juice
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 100g dairy free margarine


  • Sieve and then mix all the dry ingredients together.
  • Beat the eggs, apple juice, vanilla extract and margarine together until frothy.
  • Blend into the flour mixture.
  • Spoon into paper cases and bake at 200 oC for 15-20 minutes until well risen and spongy to touch.

Serve warm or cold.

Hot Lightning with rabbit (Hete Bliksem)

This is a recipe introduced to me by one of my daughters, thanks to one of her boyfriends. I believe it is Dutch in origin.


  • 3 local wild rabbits, skinned and gutted, soaked in salty water, then jointed
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 60g butter
  • 60ml water
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 apples (Braeburn or similar)
  • 8 floury potatoes (general cooking variety)
  • more butter and/or cream
  • 1 egg
  • nutmeg


  • Set the oven to 160C
  • Cook the onion and garlic in 60g butter over a medium heat, when they are transparent, add the jointed rabbit, salt and pepper, and brown the rabbit. Add a little water and bring to a simmer
  • Put the pan in the oven for an hour and a half, covered with tin foil. The rabbit should be tender. For the last ten minutes, remove the foil. 
  • Take the rabbit out of the oven, and when it is cool enough, strip off the meat and put it into an oven-safe dish
  • Meanwhile, peel and chop the potatoes and apples. Put the potatoes in a saucepan and just cover with water, and season with salt. Cover with a layer of apples, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. 
  • Strain off the water, put the cooked apple over the rabbit in the dish with a grating of nutmeg. Roughly mash the potatoes with salt, pepper, you can add butter or cream or egg for a softer mash. 
  • Put the mashed potatoes over the rabbit meat, and cook in a hot oven (180C) for around 20 minutes before serving.

I think adding bacon is allowed. Serve with a good green vegetable.

Spiced Apple Cake

I made this a while back and forgot to post it here – I used apples from Dr Johnson’s garden. 


  • 130g butter, cubed
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs. lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 300g self-raising flour
  • a good pinch of salt
  • 200g sour cream
  • 2 large cooking apples (Bramley) peeled cored and cut into wedges
  • 1 crisp eating apple (Granny Smith) peeled cored and cut into wedges
  • 130g demerara sugar
  • 1 tbsp mixed spice


  • Preheat the oven to 160C, and grease and line a 23cm round tin
  • Beat the butter into the caster sugar until light and fluffy
  • Slowly add the eggs and vanilla, beating in as you go
  • Add the flour and salt in batches, alternating with the soured cream. Beat just enough to mix all the ingredients, and then spoon the batter into the cake tin. 
  • Put all of the apple slices into a bowl and coat with demerara sugar and mixed spice. Spoon them onto the top of the cake mixture. 
  • Bake for 60 to 65 minutes until the cake mixture is cooked through. 
  • Cool in the tin for around 30 minutes before removing it. This cake is best served still warm, or at room temperature. It is not that easy to cut, so use a serrated knife. 

Blackberry & apple jam/cheese

Blackberry pips in jam; bothersome. Jelly; too much fruit wasted. There is a third way, making a fruit ‘cheese’ – essentially you cook the fruit and then force it through a sieve or mouli


This can be made proportionally. 

  • 1 quantity of blackberries
  • half that weight in cooking apple, such as bramley, chopped, cored but not peeled
  • 1 tbsp water for each 150g blackberries
  • jam sugar


  • Simmer the apple and the blackberries together in the water, until the apple is soft. 
  • Put the cooked fruit through the mouli on the finest setting. 
  • Measure the pulp: for each 100g pulp add 100g jam sugar
  • Boil the sugar and pulp together to setting point. 
  • Pour into warmed clean jars. 

Blackberry and apple crumble

Bramble season in the Hebrides, much later than on the mainland. The blackberries we picked last weekend were sharp and flavourful, juicy and small. I’ve frozen some for making bramble jelly later, but I made a crumble for Malcolm, because he loves it. 


  • 1 very large cooking apple 
  • around 200g blackberries
  • 2 tbsp date syrup or dark brown sugar or any other sugar
  • a pinch of cinnamon, or allspice
  • 60g butter
  • 120g self-raising flour
  • 60g sugar


  • Preheat the oven to 180C
  • Make a crumble mix – rub the butter into the flour and then add the sugar. You can add porridge oats, ground nuts, flaked almonds use brown sugar, or add spices if you wish.
  • Peel and chop the cooking apple, and then combine with the blackberries and the date syrup and allspice (or other sugar, sweet spice). 
  • Put the fruit evenly in the bottom of an oven-proof dish, then cover with the crumble mix. 
  • Bake for around 30 minutes, then serve with custard or cream. 

Apple and Date Chutney

Dear Angela. Here is the original recipe for the chutney. I got this from Christina at the surgery, whose mother got it from a friend. The quantities are quite ‘loose’ and depend on what is in the store cupboard.


  • 2  lb cooking apples
  • as much garlic as you like
  • 1 3/4 pints malt vinegar
  • 1 lb dates, stones out and chopped
  • 1 lb raisins
  • 1 lb brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • ginger, peeled and grated, if wished


  • Chop the unpeeled apples, garlic and ginger, and simmer in a pan with the vinegar, until soft.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to the boil and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring regularly.

Makes about 6 jars. The recorder of the recipe advises keeping your fingers crossed; I suspect because she is free and easy with the quantities.

Apple and pecan pudding

For the person who left us some apples.

We came home to find a line of cooking apples marching across the kitchen table. Tonight we had apple and pecan pudding.


  • 1 lb cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped small
  • 2 oz organic pecan nuts or walnuts, chopped
  • 4 oz organic dates, stoned and chopped
  • 4 oz self-raising flour, organic/wholemeal for preference
  • 4 oz fairtrade soft brown sugar
  • 1 oz melted butter
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 free-range egg, beaten


  • Preheat the oven to 200C
  • Mix the flour with the chopped fruit and nuts, then add all the other ingredients and stir well
  • The mixture should be scraped into a greased 8 inch square baking dish, and baked for half an hour

We had this served with cream. The pudding had a wonderful mixture of flavours and textures.