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Hazy Shade of Winter & Apple and Amaretti Cake

I'm not feeling particularly festive yet. Usually this is the weekend we go get a Christmas tree, put up the decorations, watch a Christmas film and stuff our faces with mince pies. This year we've decided we're not going to bother with a tree, instead opting for greenery with foraged wreaths and little bits of evergreens, candles and fairy lights- a simpler nod to the festivities. Why? Well, truthfully I don't really know, but it feels like something we all want to do. 2016 has been a baffling year to get my head around, so maybe this has something to do with it. Losing myself in the simpler details has certainly helped me focus on what's really important in life. 

Winter seems to be showing off this December and so far it's proving to be a real hit for me. I'm stunned at the colours of the sky, the vivid berries still abundant on many trees and on some plants it is their decay that is gobsmackingly beautiful and fascinating to photograph. I've started a new hashtag project over on Instagram to try to show the wonder of nature in winter. Named after one of my favourite songs 'Hazy Shade of Winter' (a Simon and Garfunkel composition, but it's actually The Bangles version that I adore!) these are the lines that I'm trying to capture through my lens - 'look around, leaves are brown, and the sky, is a hazy shade of winter'.  These are some of the photographs I took this morning at Golden Acre Park in Leeds and it's always fun to visit as the squirrels come out to play if you take them some peanuts - they almost take the food right out of your hands. Who knew brown could be such a lovely colour too? The hashtag is #thehazyshadeofwinter if you'd like to join in. 

This week also has seen me get back in my baking groove and I made this gorgeous tasting Apple and Amaretti cake. It's fairly simple to make and it's layered up with apples (I used Spartan as it has sweetness yet a little tartness too) and crumbled up Amaretti biscuits. We've been eating it with a mid afternoon cuppa but it would be equally delicious served warm with cream or custard for a pudding. Recipe is below. 

Have a wonderful weekend all. Back soon. 

Ingredients:

3 medium free-range eggs

150g light muscovado sugar

250g mascarpone cheese

200g self-raising flour

1/2 tsp salt

3 medium sized apples, cored, but you can leave the skin on if it's not too tough

80g amaretti biscuits

for the decoration:

1 apple, peeled, cored and sliced thinly (don't do it until you are ready to use the slices)

1 tbsp raspberry jam (or any flavour really!) 

2 tsp water

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C. 

Grease and line a 23cm springform cake tin. 

Crack the eggs into a large bowl and whisk until pale and fluffy. 

Pour in the sugar and keep whisking until the mixture is caramel coloured and smooth. 

Spoon in the mascarpone and use a wooden spoon to mix it in. I found that it went a little curdled here so I used a little flour to help prevent that happening further. 

Sift the flour and the salt into the bowl and stir with the wooden spoon until just combined. Set the bowl to one side. 

Thinly slice the apples then gently fold into the mixture. 

Pour half the batter into the prepared cake tin. 

Roughly crumble the amaretti biscuits onto the top of the batter. 

Pour the remainder of the batter over the biscuits and spread it out to cover. 

Top with the apple slices in a fan shape round the edge of the cake. 

Melt the jam with the water over a low heat in a saucepan then using a pastry brush glaze the apple slices. 

Bake for 45 minutes until the cake is golden brown or a skewer comes out clean. 

Leave to cool in it's tin before tipping onto a plate. 

Crumble over a few more amaretti biscuits before eating. You can also dust with a little icing sugar. 

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