Irish Apple Cake – Darina Allen Traditional Irish Cooking

I made the apple cake from Darina Allen’s Traditional Irish Cooking again today to have after roast dinner. A much more appropriate time to serve it up. It’s called Irish Apple Cake but really it’s a type of apple pie made with a soft dough-like pastry. The pastry is quick and easy to make with ingredients you’re always likely to have to hand but be careful when handling as it is very soft and easy to tear. I think the egg wash is essential but I never know what to do with the rest of the egg. It’s one of those times when I wish we still kept quail, quail’s eggs are a perfect size for egg washing pastry. I also added cinnamon and nutmeg as the original recipe only had 2-3 cloves and was a bit bland.


  • 225g plain flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 110g butter
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 50ml milk
  • 2 cooking apples
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • beaten egg to glaze
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C
  2. Sieve flour and baking powder into a bowl
  3. Rub in the butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs
  4. Add 85g sugar, then make a well and mix in milk and beaten egg until it forms a soft dough (you may need to add more flour if the dough is sticky)
  5. Divide into two
  6. Roll out half and place on a greased ovenproof plate
  7. Peel and core cooking apples and slice apples onto dough
  8. Sprinkle remaining sugar and spices onto the top
  9. Roll out other half and place on top
  10. Press edges of pastry/dough together and egg wash
  11. Cook for 40 mins

Darina notes that this would have originally been baked in  a bastible or pot beside an open fire (similar to a dutch oven).

Lamb Shanks: Darina Allen

I’d been planning to cook lamb shanks from Heston’s home cookery booklet however when I realised these needed 4-5 hrs and it was already mid morning I needed to replan.

So Darina Allen’s Braised Lamb Shanks with Garlic, Rosemary and Flageolet Beans it was.

Ingredients (for 4)

4 lamb shanks (about 1.1kg)
8 small springs rosemary
8 slivers garlic
4 anchovy fillets, halved

Braising Ingredients
25g goose or duck fat or olive oil
2 carrots roughly chopped
2 celery stalks roughly chopped
1 leek roughly chopped
1 onion roughly chopped
1 head of garlic halved horizontally
1/2 bottle red wine
150ml chicken or lamb stock
sprig thyme
2 sprigs rosemary
2 bay leaves
2 strips dried orange peel

2 tbsp olive oil
110g streaky bacon cut into lardons and blanched
110g carrots finely diced
110g celery stalk finely diced
110g onion finely diced
6 garlic cloves
4 very ripe tomatoes diced or 200g chopped tomatoes from a tin
2 springs thyme
leaves from 2 springs rosemary chopped
1 x 400g tin flageolet beans
150ml chicken or lamb stock


1. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C
2. Remove most of the fat from each shank
3. Make 2 deep incisions in each joint and insert  sprig of rosemary and a sliver of garlic wrapped in anchovy fillet into each incision, then season the meat with pepper
4. Saute the meat in the goose/duck fat or olive oil until well browned on all sides then remove meat from the pan
5. Add carrots, celery, leek, onion and garlic and cook over a high heat until well browned
6. Add the red wine and bring to the boil and stir for 1-2 mins
7. Add the stock, herbs and orange peel, then place lamb shanks on top
8. Cover and cook for 2.25 hrs
9. Meanwhile make the sauce, heat olive oil in pan and brown the bacon
10. Reduce heat and add carrot, celery, onion, garlic and cook for about 8 mins until veg have softened
11. Add tomatoes, herbs, flageolots and enough stock to cover the beans
12. Cover and simmer for 1/2 – 1 hr
13. When the lamb has finished cooking remove the thyme, bay leaves and orange peel, Taste and correct seasoning
14. Serve in a hot deep bowl with the beans poured over and around

Garnish with fresh rosemary and thyme serve with fluffy mashed potatoes.

New Irish Cookery – Paul and Jeanne Rankin

Had friends over for dinner on Sat so thought I’d do some recipes from the Rankin’s New Irish Cookery book. I’m not sure I’ve cooked anything from it before although the recipes look appealing. I needed to avoid Beef, preferably no red meat at all and no shellfish except prawns.

For starter I made the Smoked salmon and wheaten bread millefeuilles with marinated red onion. Wheaten bread easy to bake. Very difficult to slice the bread thin enough though. The marinated onion added a delightful sweet touch to the dish and essential to lift this out of wheaten bread and smoked salmon. I didn’t do the top layer as the thicker bread slices meant it was high enough.

Main was Salmon with horseradish crust and chive cream sauce. I was trying to prepare what I could ahead of time and accidentally used the horseradish and mustard mix I’d prepared for the chive sauce to coat the salmon. It wasn’t a disaster but meant the fish crust wasn’t as zippy as I’d have liked. TBH I think the chive sauce could have been prepared to just before adding chives and reheated gently when needed, this would have stopped me using the wrong mix to coat the fish. Not sure how far ahead the salmon crust could have been prepared, I must experiment.

Veg was buttered spinach and made cream potato gratin from the Rankin book. The gratin was really easy to make but the recipe had absurd amounts of cream. I couldn’t work out why whipping cream either. I used a fraction of the quantity of double cream and it turned out beautifully.

Pudding I made a basic apple cake from Darina Allen’s Irish Traditional Cooking book. Very easy pastry and pleasant apple pie. Not really a dinner party pudding though. Apple cake was very nice cold the next day.

Spiced Pumpkin Soup – Darina Allen

This year I wanted to try a different pumpkin soup and since Darina Allen’s Ballymaloe Cookery Course has taken over from Delia’s Complete Cookery Course as my basic ‘how to cook’ book I thought I’d see if she had a pumpkin soup recipe.

Spiced Pumpkin Soup

Serves 6-8

  • 900g Pumpkin or winter squash, peeled, de-seeded and cut into 1cm cubes
  • 175g onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 25g butter
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 450g very ripe tomatoes, skinned and chopped or 1 400g tin tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • 1.2 litres home-made chicken stock
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 35g butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon  cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon white mustard seeds
  • 5cm piece of cinnamon stick
  1. Put the pumpkin into a pan with the onion, garlic, butter and thyme. Cover a sweat over a low heat for 10mins stirring once or twice.
  2. Add the chopped tomatoes and tomato puree and cook until dissolved into a thick sauce.
  3. Stir in the stock, salt, pepper and nutmeg and simmer until the pumpkin is soft. Discard the thyme stalk then blend the soup. Add extra water or stock to taste.
  4. Melt the butter and cook the spices. Remove the cinnamon stick and pour the spiced butter into a swirl in the soup as you ladle it out.

The spiced butter is very nice in the soup but a bit of a faff if you are dishing up this soup as a quick lunch. However this soup does need spice, we found adding smoked paprika to the soup worked well.