I have very strong memories of our visits to Jimmy's Fruit Shop in the small town where I lived as a kid. Beresfield was about thirty minutes outside of Newcastle (I've got no idea of the direction!). We had a main drag, which of course seem endless to me because I was a little kid. I've been past that street in recent years - it's a block long!
On the main drag we had a supermarket. We had a Chemist, a hardware store, and a fruit shop. Jimmy was the owner - ethnic (one of few in our town) and a very friendly man, especially with little kids. Jimmy is responsible for feeding me endless mandarins as a kid - they seemed so absolutely delicious! The skin was loose and there was never a seed to be found in any of the individual segments. I've honestly never had a mandarins as good as an adult.
But there was one thing in Jimmy's shop that appealed to me above all else: cherry apples. Big fat bulbs of boiled confectionery coloured red and green jammed onto a little paddle pop stick. I remember one or two times when Jimmy just handed me one for nix. The rest of the time I had to pull all my resources together to find the five cents necessary to buy one for myself.
I'm sure my mother would have been a lot happier were I eating real apples instead of 'cherry apples'. But I was a kid with a sugar addiction to feed. I see those cherry apples around occasionally these days - they're still sold in the same tall glass jar with the black lid - usually on the counter of a corner shop. I think about the fillings in my teeth when I see them. But I have no regrets!
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups self raising flour
1 cup milk
2 green apples, peeled cored and sliced into thin wedges
extra cinnamon and castor sugar
1. Pre-heat over to 180 degrees Celsius.
2. Place butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, flour and milk in the large bowl of your electric mixer. Beat on the lowest speed until all ingredients are combined. Then increase speed to cream the mixture for five to seven minutes (choose the seventh notch on a Sunbeam Mix Master, if you have one!). Mixture will become thick, pale and glossy.
3. Spoon tablespoons of the mixture into greased rectangular muffin tins (Baker's Secret sells an eight hole tin). You should have enough mixture for 12 holes.
4. Vertically insert three apple wedges round side up, side by side into each of the cakes. Combine the extra cinnamon and castor sugar (about two teaspoons of each) and sprinkle generously over tops of each cake.
5. Bake in moderate oven for 35 minutes or until tops and sides are golden brown. Turn out onto a wire rack and allow to cool. Serve with a cup of tea! Cakes will last in an air tight container for up to five days.