Today I visited the Bentleigh Farmers Market with a very dear friend. I woke quite early with a sense of excitement and anticipation in the hope that my favourite stall holders were going to be there. The sun was out – the air was fresh – and the sweet scent of spring blooms were engulfing us as we parked our car and walked in carrying our old-fashioned basket and trolley.
There are many benefits of arriving at the market early. You get a carpark right at the gate – which is handy when you are lugging your trolley back to the car filled with beautiful fresh produce and handmade goodies. It also gives you a chance to relish in those quiet precious moments talking to the farmers and stall holders before the crowds flood in.
And, for me, I get to make sure that those beautiful sweet sticky buns made with raisins and delectable sour cherries, from the Elwood Sourdough bakery, don’t run out! And they do – very quickly! So worth getting up for (I promise).
As you walk around each stall you are presented with beautiful fresh produce picked straight from the farm or made by hand by a local artisan. It is a feast for the senses and just makes me feel so very happy!
There were many bunches of produce on display – they all looked very pretty and striking in their own right. Beautiful asparagus from the Jonella farm, baby carrots and bright red radishes. A stunning purple cauliflower wrapped softly in light green leaves – as if it was a baby snuggled up in its bed. Sweet oranges and crisp potatoes. And tamarillo’s- an egg-shaped edible fruit that is also known as the tree tomato.
February’s harvest of garlic was still on sale in all its purple glory. I was advised that if you leave garlic in the fridge they will last much longer than keeping it in the cupboard. I purchased only one knowing that the next batch of spring garlic will be on its way next time.
Oh and those beautiful freesias! How could one resist!
We stumbled across a delicious chocolate stand. Those hand-made chocolates looked so pretty and perfect. We even taste tested chocolate coated potato crisps which were moorish and delectable.
I got excited and purchased some treats for my family for our ‘after dinner’ dessert tonight. Licorice for my husband Matt, peppermint chocolate for my children Chloe and Thomas and a piece of cherry chocolate for me. Chloe has been gazing at my beautiful display on the bench all afternoon. She has resisted touching them for now! Let’s see if we make it to dinner time!
I chose some apples and pears from a lovely lady who asked me to be ‘very gentle’ with the fruit so they don’t bruise. She said to me …’Now I don’t want you going home with bruised fruit’…. She almost sounded like my mother – quite bossy and firm! We had a chuckle and I handed over my money thinking – well she was probably right. One must respect the older and wiser women who come before us!
As we carted our beautiful goodies home my mind starts racing as I dream about what I am going to do with all the produce. It can be quite exhausting because I could end up spending the entire day in the kitchen cooking up many dishes. As I slowly unpacked the trolley I started to look at all the produce and it reminded me of my Nonna cooking in the kitchen.
As I touched the beautiful apples and pears, I felt the burning desire to make one of my family favourites – an apple and olive oil tea cake. I felt inspired to use all of my Nonna’s kitchen equipment to make the cake and then sit down with my beautiful daughter to share in the spoils.
I reached for my personal recipe book that sits proudly on my kitchen bench in full display. I purchased this book around 15 years ago when I was in Italy. I found it in a beautiful ‘Il Papiro’ shop in Florence and have been filling it with my favourite recipes ever since. I opened it to find my niece Bronte’s vegan cake recipe for inspiration.
I started making the cake by cooking the apples and straining them in my Nonna’s old fashioned colander. There they stayed for a little while to cool.
I then used one of her bowls to prepare the cake batter and gently mix by hand using her wooden spoon.
I baked the cake in her 20cm cake tin covered in raw sugar to make sure that the cake came out soft in the middle and crispy on top.
Chloe and I enjoyed the cake outside in the garden using my Nonna’s plates and espresso cups – which she used when she lived in Argentina – they have traveled a long way to get to Australia! We drank fresh water from my great grandmothers glasses – water glasses were much smaller back then!
Chloe got quite excited to know that she was going to drink a ‘proper espresso coffee’ for the very first time. It was a lovely afternoon and a moment to remember.
Today, Nonna’s apple tea cake recipe makes it on to the next blank page of my special recipe book – which I hope will be passed down from one generation to the next. I do hope that you enjoy making it too.
Nonna’s Apple Tea Cake
2 cups of self raising flour
1 cup of raw sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Pinch of salt
400g cut up apple, cooked until half done and cooled
1 cup water
3/4 cup olive oil
1. Add all ingredients into a medium sized mixing bowl
2. Mix all ingredients gently with a wooden spoon until it just comes together
3. Place cake mixture in a well greased 20cm round cake tin
4. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees fan forced for approximately 30 to 35 minutes, or until cooked
5. Cool for at least 10 minutes before placing on a wire rack to be enjoyed with loved ones
Until next time