English Bramley Apples

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This time of year, my friend invites us to visit her garden and collect the excess of Bramley Apples (they tend remain green in the North) from her grand tree. Bees adore its blooms. When I lived abroad this was the ingredient from home that I missed the most. An exceptionally large, tart cooking apple that has a wonderful texture when hot.

The original Bramley Apple Tree was planted in Southwell, Nottinghamshire by a girl called Mary Ann Brailsford in 1809. It was a fluke of nature. The Bramley Apple cannot be cultivated from its pips. All strains of the tree throughout the United Kingdom, come from the mother tree.

That very tree today, over two centuries later, with its own blue plaque and visitors’ book of dedications from all over the globe, is dying from a fungal infection. It is very sad.

Fortunately the University of Nottingham has enough of its offspring to continue the culture. Attempts have been made to grow them in other continents, but unfortunately they do not last long and fruit tends to be more sparse and small.

There are many websites dedicated to the English Bramley Apple, complete with recipes: puddings, pies, crumbles, dumplings, tarts, sauces and stews. It is often mixed with another English apple – the Cox’s Orange Pippin – in equal parts to make the perfect accompaniment to roast pork.

apple dumplingRecipe

One dish that has been handed down to me (which our family referred to as Dorset Dumplings) was to core, but not peel, an apple for each person. Dry and butter the skins. Sit each apple on its own disc of pastry (puff or short-crust). Cram as many chopped or small mixed dried fruits into the cored centre. Then pour honey or golden-syrup into any spaces of the dried fruits. Wrap the apple in the pastry by either folding it over the top and sticking it down with a brush of water,  or rolled quickly with the hands so that it resembles a ball.

Place the apple balls onto a greased and floured metal tray, then sprinkle with plenty of sugar before baking them in a hot oven for 15-25 minutes or until brown.

Serve with thick cream, vanilla ice cream or English custard.

They look like they are going to be too big to eat, but are surprisingly light (it is mainly apple after all) and are popular with children, who love the shape and the sweet-and-sour taste, without them realising they are getting essential vitamins.

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25 thoughts on “English Bramley Apples

  1. Too bad we don’t have the Bramleys, but now I have that recipe, and when the time for our apples arrives, I’m going to give it a try. I grew up with baked apples, which are done essentially the same way — stuffed with raisins, nuts, and such — but the addition of the crust is a brilliant idea.

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  2. There’s nothing like a Bramley for cooking, is there. I have visitors at the moment and last night we had a delicious Bramley & Blackberry Crumble – with custard, of course, what else would you serve this with? We all voted it the perfect pudding.

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  3. Apple harvest is a lovely time of year. I’m sorry to hear that the Bramley is unwell. I’m remnded to visit the bottom of the orchard to see how our favourite apple tree is doing. He lost a limb last year so I suspect the harvest won’t be as abundant as usual. I like your recipe, an individual apple pie. I may try it soon.

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  4. I’ve done baked apples, but not wrapped in pastry. By coincidence, I’ve just come back from visiting a friend in Kent, who has spent the last week doing things with her apples. I brought back a bag of apples and we agreed to exchange a jar of her apple and chillie jelly for a jar of my lemon curd.

    We used to have apple trees in the garden – two cookers and two eaters – but they became diseased. I bought a pear tree six years ago and I’m looking forward to good crops in the future.

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  5. Well I never knew all that ~ even though we had Bramley trees in our garden when I was growing up ~ they are delicious! My Mum used to make baked apples in the Rayburn, without the pastry covering and what wouldn’t I give right now for a slice of her apple pie? Mine never came out the same, even though I used her recipe. Mmmmm……my mouth is watering now! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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