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Apple Cake

The festival of Halloween was commemorated by our National Bard, Robert Burns, in a splendid poem by that name. From his poem it is obvious that 18th century Scotland celebrated Halloween in fine fettle -

'Wi' merry sangs and frien'ly cracks
I wat they didna weary;
And unco tales, and funny jokes,
Their sports were cheap and cheery
Till buttered so'ens, wi' fragrant lunt,
Set a' their gabs a steerin';
Syne wi' a social glass o' strunt
They parted aff careerin
Fu' blythe that nicht.'


A must for any Halloween ploy is a turnip lantern, made from a large round turnip. From the top, cut off a thick slice - about a quarter of the whole - and scoop out the inside, taking care not to break the skin. The resulting "shell" should be as thin as possible, but a stump must be left at the bottom and hollowed out to serve as a socket for a candle. Carve on the "shell" a man-in the - moon face, or any devise that you wish eg skull and crossbones, and make two holes at the top to enable you to make a handle. The lantern when lit gives a soft luminous glow, and the carved face or design stands out clearly. A popular game at any Halloween Party is "Doukin fir Aipples" -  a modern reminder of a by-gone ordeal by water - a large tub of water is filled with apples and the master of ceremonies uses a spurtle ( representing a Druidic wand ) to keep the apples in constant motion. Each of the company kneels by the tub, in turn, and tries to seize an apple in their teeth without the aid of their hands. An alternative method of "catching" your apple is to have a chair placed with its back against the tub and to kneel on the chair and attempt to spear your apple. Any apple taken by mouth or fork is yours to eat! If you fail to catch your apple, never fear, for traditionally there is always an apple pie or tart, for the company to enjoy.  This week’s recipe – Apple Cake – will not only be a Halloween treat but a favourite all year round.

Apple Cake

Ingredients:  4 oz (115 g) caster sugar; 4 oz (115 g) butter; 6 oz (175 g) self raising flour; pinch of salt; ˝ tsp mixed spice; 2 eggs; 3 tbsp stewed apple

Method:  Cream butter and sugar, add eggs and flour etc and lastly the apple. If raw apple is used a little water may be needed to make a dropping consistency. Put mixture into a lightly greased tin and bake in a moderate oven at Gas Mark 4, 180deg C, 350 deg F for 40 minutes. The mixture may also be put into bun tins or paper case and baked for about 15 minutes.

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