If you add custard and/or alcohol, e.g sherry, it becomes more like a trifle. It is basically a layered desert consisting of alternating layers of caramelised bread crumbs, apple purée and crushed macaroons, topped with whipped cream and decorated with red currant jelly. Mine is based on caramelised rye bread (see bread recipe elsewhere on the Shipton Mill site) and Macarons de Nancy (recipe below).
Caramellised bread crumbs
75g - 100% rye bread crumbs (can be substituted for other types of bread crumbs)
50g - 66% white caster sugar
50g - 66% unsalted butter
If you don't have any dry rye bread, use fresh bread cut in slices and torn into pieces, then oven-dried for 1-2 hours at very low temperature. Blitz it to a coarse crumb in a small mill or whatever you have available.
Mix the bread crumbs with the sugar (I use white sugar in the caramel and golden in the apple purée to give a slight but nice taste variation on the sweet side).
On a pan, or in a pot, melt the butter and boil off the water it contains but don't allow it to brown. Add the crumb/sugar mix, reduce heat and caramellise while constantly stirring using a wooden implement. The trick is to make sure all the sugar melts and gets incorporated in the caramel without burning the mix. You want to maintain a temperature between 115 and 135°C. Keep it moving so that it doesn't lump together. That accomplished, remove the pot or pan from the heat and allow it to cool while still stirring.
Apple purée (if possible make a day in advance):
500g - 100% apples (50/50 Braeburn and Granny Smith works fine but use the apples you prefer: half cooking, half eating)
50g - 10% water
50-75g - 10-15% golden caster sugar (according to the acidity of the apples actually used)
0.5g - 0.001% vanilla pod (approximately half a pod per 500g of apples)
75g - 15% Almond flakes (optional)
Peel and core the apples. Cut them into small (20 mm) pieces. Put them in a pot.
Scrape out the seeds from the half vanilla pod and set them aside (e.g. in a corner of your chopping board). Alternatively, especially if you need to use the apple purée the same day, add the seeds to the apples in the pot.
Add the water and the (now empty) half vanilla pod, put a lid on the pot and heat over high heat. Once the pot boils, reduce the heat, keep the lid on and cook for about 10 minutes, until the apples are completely soft.
Remove the pot from the heat and pour the apples into a bowl. Fish out and discard the vanilla pod, add the vanialla seeds (if you did not already do so) and the sugar and whisk it to a purée. Don't whisk it completely smooth but leave a bit of texture, according to your taste. Some apples have different cooking times and may not soften at the same time. If so, start cooking those with the longest cooking time first, then add the second kind as appropriate. (Some people like a touch of cinnamon in this mix as well). When adding the sugar start at the lower quantity end and taste bearing in mind the sugar contents of the macrons and the bread crumbs. It is very easy to get this dish disgustingly sweet. You adjust the acidity level with the apple purée and - to a lesser extent - with the redcurrant jelly.
If used, lightly roast the almond flakes in an oven (4 minutes at GM 5 or thereabouts), let them cool, then add them to the purée (or you can add them right before serving).
Let the purée cool in a fridge, preferably overnight.
Macarons de Nancy:
200g - 100% almond meal
240g - 120% golden caster sugar
80g - 40% egg whites
2-3g - 1-1.5% bitter almond essence
Pre-heat an oven to 180C (gas mark 4). Ready a couple of baking sheets with silicone mats or baking paper.
Combine the sugar with the almond meal in a bowl and add the egg whites and the bitter almond essence. Use a wooden spoon to stir this into a heavy paste (2-3 minutes). As the ingredients combine and the liquid in the egg whites dissolves the sugar the viscosity of the paste falls and you get a paste which is quite firm but can be piped (if it turns out too firm just slacken it a bit with water).
Fill the paste into a piping back with a 10 mm circular nozzle and pipe 50 mm rounds onto the baking sheets, keeping a distance of 20-30 mm between the rounds.
Use a brush to wet the surface of the rounds with water before putting them into the oven (if you wish to use them for a different purpose you can top them with icing sugar before baking them). Bake them for about 15 minutes, until they turn nicely golden but not brown or black. You want them to be fairly soft.
Remove the macarons from the oven and allow them to cool on the baking sheets until they have firmed up enough to be moved to a cooling rack to finish cooling. At that stage you can use the macarons for anything you normally do with macarons. They will keep in an airtight contained for a couple of weeks.
However, to use them in an æblekage they need two additional processing steps (following quantities based on 650g = 100% of apple purée):
200g - 30% Macarons de Nancy
Dry the macarons in an oven at very low temperature (gas mark 1/2) for 1-2 hours, until they are bone dry and no longer tacky. Allow them to cool.
Place them inside a tea towel and smash them into a coarse crumb using a meat tenderiser or rolling pin.
It is easy to assemble an æblekage either in glasses as individual portions or in a glass bowl from which to serve (or for children to fight over).
650 g - 100% apple purée
150g - 23% caramellised rye bread crumbs
175g - 27% Macarons de Nancy crumbs
250g - 38% whipped cream, soft tops
20g - 3% redcurrant jelly
In the vessel of your choice build the following sequence of layers: apple purée; rye bread crumbs; apple purée; macaron crumbs; rye bread crumbs; apple purée; whipped cream - decorate with the redcurrant jelly (and roasted almond flakes if so desired).
Leave to cool and amalgamate in the fridge (covered with cling film) for an hour or two, allowing the taste elements to mix while retaining crispness.
You can vary this to your liking and of course adjust the amount of suger in the dish to satisfy your particular demands with regard to the fight between the taste buds and the bathroom scales. Bon appetit!
Photos: Arranged as portions in glasses; arranged in a bowl; pushing the boat out with an apple sorbet and a cinammon ice cream (my sister called 'blasphemy!'); and bowls with the individual increadiants.
PS: When cooking the apple purée you get a lot of apple peel and cores than are mostly discarded. Things like that tend to irk me, so one day I had the idea of attmpting to make a sourdough starter with these leftovers. I put the apple remains in a jar, filled it with water and left it to ferment (based on the fungi present nautrally) at room temperature for about a week. I fed this apple wine some flour and used it to create a sourdough starter - very delicious. I may write down some of the recipes for sourdough bread later.