This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
We used to live next door to an allotment. Men would come on their day off and hoe weeds, dig rows and rows of soil, plant seeds and add manure from the farmer who brought it up in his tractor and trailor. It was, looking back, rather fascinating.
Which is one of the reasons I think I'm so besotted with Cathy Bramley's Ivy Lane series of books. Each short eBook covers a season and focuses on Tilly, who takes on an allotment to start her life afresh. We've already enjoyed Spring, where I re-created some rather delicious peanut butter flapjacks, then came Summer, which I highlighted in this Novelicious Picks post.
Now, as the mornings become cooler, the leaves start to turn and fall and I find myself needing to wear socks once more, Cathy brings us Autumn. It is mid-September at Ivy Lane (as it was when I was reading it) and Tilly is back, after the summer holidays, teaching at the school, so she has less time for her allotment. When she finally pops over to sort out her cabbage seedlings she finds rather a lot of drama. Plus sadness, unexpected friendships and the hint of romance. We also, finally, discover more about Tilly's past. But I'm not going to tell you what that is. Oh no.On Tilly's allotment she has a tree. An apple tree. At Ivy Lane there is a hallowe'en party coming up and Tilly and her friends carve pumpkins, make dead men's fingers "from rolled up bread with almonds for nails and ketchup for blood" as well as toffee apples. Using the last few apples from Tilly's tree.
I've re-created two recipes involving apples in the last few weeks already (apple dumplings and apple sauce) and for that I do not apologise. They are such a magnificent fruit that is grown so well and so abundantly in this country. Toffee apples are incredibly easy to make but also require sugar to get to a very hot temperature. Do take care. And do not try not to taste it when it's too hot like I did (ouch).
Wooden lolly stick, heavy based saucepan, baking tray covered in baking paper. I also found a ladle was useful.
200g caster sugar
1/2 tsp vinegar
2 tbsp golden syrup
- Wash and dry your apples.
- Insert wooden lolly stick into the end with the stalk and place on tray on baking paper.
- Place the sugar and water in the pan. Bring to a medium heat. Do not be tempted to stir too much.
- Allow the sugar to dissolve then add the syrup and vinegar.
- Bring to a boil for a few minutes.
- You can use a thermometer but I found it easy to have a jug of cold water next to me and to drop a teaspoon of the toffee in there to check if it is does. Test it with your fingers. If it is still soft then keep boiling. If it cracks then it is done.
- Take the toffee off the boil.
- Dip the apples into the toffee. I found a ladle useful here and used it to pour the toffee evenly over the apples. Allow to drip then transfer to the baking parchment. Repeat with the other apples.