It seems like in a weeks time the days have started to get more chilly and shorter. The trees are starting to shake off their leaves and we are greeted by cobnuts, apples and plums. Autumn is definitely upon us.
Last week I walked in a sunny meadow in Kent wearing a summer dress and red dancing shoes, today I’m packing a warm cardigan for London where I will stay with friends for a few days to attend this years food blogger conference. This time away from the hectic magazine deadlines and the company of like-minded food lovers from all over the globe will warm me with a fire of creativity.
In Kent, my mission was to find the ‘Kentish cob‘ which is a type of hazelnut that has been grown in England since Tudor times and perhaps even earlier. The Victorians considered the Kentish cobnuts to be a delicacy and therefore are responsible for planting 7000 acres of cobnut orchard or ‘plats’.
Like the cherry orchards, after first world war the amount of cobnut plats in Kent was drastically decreased to no more than 730 acres with a further decline to 250 acres today.
Unlike most hazelnuts, cobnuts are sold fresh and not dried. They are in season from the end of august through october.
At the beginning of the season the husks are green and the kernels very juicy, further into the season when the nuts have ripened the husks and shells are brown and the flavour has developed further to the hazelnut taste that we are used too.
Kentish cobnut cake
traditional Kentish recipe adapted from English Teatime Recipes
To roast the cobnuts
Remove the shells and place them in an oven at 160C for 45 minutes
For the cobnut cake
• 225 g self-raising flour
• 110 unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 110 g light soft brown sugar
• 3 free-range eggs, beaten
• 50 g (1 cup) cobnuts, shells removed, roasted and finely chopped
For the cobnut cake, preheat the oven to 160C°.
Line you cake tin with baking paper.Add the butter to the flour and mix until it resembles breadcrumbs
Add the sugar and eggs and beat until well combined.
Stir in the chopped cobnuts until well combined.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin, gently spreading the batter into all the corners.
Put the cake in to the oven and bake for 1h 20 min, or until the cake has risen and is lovely golden-brown, when a skewer is inserted into the centre of the cake it has to come out clean.
Set the cake aside to cool slightly in the tin.
For the apple compôte
• 3 apples, peeled, cores removed, finely chopped
• 2-3 tbsp cane sugar
• 2 tbsp water
Heat the water in a frying pan over a medium heat.
Add the sugar and let it dissolve
Add the apples and stir well
Cook until the apples have broken down slightly and the mixture has thickened.
Serve the slices of cake with a spoonful of warm or cold apple compôte.
For more information about Kentish Cobnuts visit this website: www.kentishcobnutsassociation.org.uk