Our district of Orange has been growing apples since the 1840s and is still one of the best apple growing regions in Australia. So with apple picking season in full swing and the Orange Apple Festival kicking off in a couple of weeks, I thought it might be a good time to visit one of Orange’s loveliest orcharding families, the Halls.
Alice, Tom and our Swedish friend Ellen recently visited these guys at their Bonny Glen apple orchard on the slopes of Mount Canobolas, about 15 minutes drive from our own farm. We went after school with cake and tea.
Fi is married to Bernard Hall, and with Bernard’s brother and parents, the couple run four orchards in the district plus a busy packing shed. They grow Red Delicious, Royal Galas, Pink Ladies, Jonathons, Granny Smiths, Fuju and Kanzi apples plus cherries and do it all with great professionalism and passion. They are also parents to three kids Charlie, eight, Billy, six and Maggie, 4. Right now the Hall’s are in the middle of apple picking and packing season and the family are working around the clock.
Easy brown sugar apple tray cakeI love the idea of baking up a big slab of apple cake for afternoon tea. And I really love the idea of doing this in the middle of an orchard with the family that grew the apples in said cake.
250g butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
4 eggs at room temperature
1 2/3 cup plain flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking powder
2 Jonathon apples (or whatever fresh, crunchy ones you have available!), cored and fairly thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 180C and grease and line a baking tray with deep sides (about 5cm). Cream the butter and sugar together in an electric mixer until pale and fluffy (this should take about 5 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition. Sift the flour, cinnamon, ginger and baking powder together then fold this through the butter mixture. Spoon this into your prepared tray, press apple over the top then bake for 35 minutes or until the sides of the cake are just pulling away from the tin and a skewer comes out clean. Let cool in the tin, dust with icing sugar and serve.
Apple chai teaThis is a really simple idea but a nice change from regular black tea! Just brew up your favourite chai tea (mine comes from Kettle Town - their teas are incredible) and serve with a few slices of freshly sliced apples.
The Orange Apple Festival runs from May 9-11 and there are some really great local events running over the three days, including baking classes, school apple pie drives, apple bobbing at the farmers market and farm tours too. Event details can be found on the Taste Orange website.