With a history of apple growing dating back further than St. Patrick's Ireland's apples are a thing of legend. Apple tart, apple crumble, roast pork and apple sauce, apples are synonymous with Irish food both savory and sweet.

Bramley apples are an especially distinctive type of apple in that they come into season in October and keep long into the winter making them the perfect cooking apple in the run-up to Christmas. They are known in Ireland, to most, simply as a "cooking apple".

This Christmas, Bord Bia (Ireland's food board) is encouraging people to enjoy this distinctive locally-grown apple in a range of tasty winter-warming meals. Often referred to in Ireland as a “cooking apple”, the Bramley apple’s distinct tart taste and unique fluffy texture make it the ideal ingredient for many sweet and savory dishes.

Cooks find the large size convenient for preparation and their natural sharpness is a great quality, balancing the sweetness of pastry and any added sugar, and the fruit acids help break down the apple during cooking so that it ‘falls’ to produce a unique fluffy purée.

A relatively modern apple dating from the 19th century, it is widely grown but is most strongly associated with Armagh, "The Orchard County", which has a history of apple growing that goes back to St. Patrick and the early monasteries. In fact, William of Orange was among the many with historical references linking apples – and cider – to the area.

Without further ado,  why not impress your loved ones over the Christmas season with this simple Bramley apple recipe.

Bramley apple cake recipe

Serve with crème fraiche or ice cream for a great Christmas dessert that the whole family will enjoy.

Serves: 4-6 people 

Substitutes: If you don't have Bramley apples to hand Granny Smiths, Fuji or Winesap will also do.

Ingredients

- 500g Bramley apples (roughly 2 large apples)

-150g butter, plus extra for greasing
- 225g self-raising flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 225g caster sugar
- 2 large eggs
- ½ tsp. almond extract
- 25g flaked almonds
- Icing sugar, to dust
- Vanilla ice cream, to serve

Method

Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F) Gas mark 3.

Melt the butter in a small pan or in the microwave and leave to cool. Lightly butter a 20cm loose-bottomed cake tin.

Put the flour, baking powder, sugar, eggs, almond extract, and melted butter into a bowl. Using a hand-held mixer, beat until smooth. Spread half into the prepared tin.

Peel and core the apples and then thickly slice. Add them in layers on top of the sponge mixture, piling them into the center. Using two tablespoons, spoon the rest of the sponge mixture on top to cover the apples completely.

Scatter over the almonds and bake for 1¼ hours until golden and a skewer comes out clean in the middle. Leave for 5 minutes, then dust with the icing sugar.

Remove from the tin and cut into slices. Serve warm on plates with the ice cream.

* This recipe was provided by Bord Bia. For more recipes from Ireland's food board visit www.bordbia.ie/recipes.