Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Cheese and Spicy Apple Loaf with D'Arcy Spice Apples

Cheese and Spicy Apple Loaf with D'Arcy Spice Apples
I adore old English apples and I'm saddened that so many old apple trees have been carelessly (or deliberately) pulled up.  Because of this, I love to hear about people committed to planting and preserving the old varieties - and if I have the chance to try an old variety of apple I always do.  I enjoy undertaking a not-very-scientific study to compare the tastes of different apples.  I also like to find out where the variety of apple originates from - in Essex I know of four varieties: Discovery, Queen, Chelmsford Wonder and D'Arcy Spice.  Discovery is an early variety and Queen and Chelmsford Wonder are cooking apples, but perhaps the most unusual of the four is the dessert apple; D'Arcy Spice.

D'Arcy Spice is so called because it originates from Tolleshunt D'Arcy, a village close to the Essex coast and it's said to date from 1785 (although it could be older than that).  It's an apple known for its aromatic flavour; it has a subtle taste of nutmeg.  And it's a late variety; traditionally it's not picked until Guy Fawkes Day and then it needs to be stored for several weeks before it's ready to eat.  In storage, the apples sweeten and develop their distinct, spicy taste.  I also love the appearence of D'Arcy Spice; it has a humble, "traditional variety of apple" look about it.

D'Arcy Spice Apple
D'Arcy Spice apples have just become available in my local farm shop, so I bought some to make a cheese and spicy apple loaf.  I love this loaf - it's a real lunchtime treat; moist with lovely flavours and a crunchy crust.  I wish I could have included local cheese, but as I mentioned last month I've hunted for local cheese and found that Essex no longer produces any.  So I've had to use non-local  cheddar (from the north of England) for my recipe.  Still, the apples themselves were grown just a couple of miles away.

I'm now wondering whether to source a D'Arcy Spice apple tree and plant it in the new orchard.  It would be good to have a local variety growing there.

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