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Thursday, 3 September 2015

Product Review - The Apple Master

As someone who spends a good deal of time during late summer and autumn chopping fruit and vegetables, I'm always keen to find something that does the job faster. I like a gadget but it has to earn its cupboard space. Sometimes this means it is a multi functional tool that can be used for more than one purpose so earns its keep that way. Sometimes it means that it does just one job but so well that it is worth both the cupboard space it requires when not in use and the inevitable cleaning time. I do, for example, like my food processor and wouldn't want to be without if for certain jobs but often I would rather struggle with a bit more elbow grease than spend the time retrieving it from the cupboard, setting it up, dismantling it, cleaning it and then packing it all back neatly enough that it will go back into the space it came out of.

Over the past few months I have seen Lakeland adverts for the apple master, a devise to help speed up the processing of apples. I process a lot of apples so of course I'm was curious about this devise but to be honest from the picture it looked like a gadget just for peeling them. Having peeled hundreds of apples in my time, I am pretty speedy with a knife and I have a simple cutting tool that cores and wedges apples in one pushing action so did I really need this gadget taking up space cupboard for 9 or 10 months of the year? I wondered if the time taken to fix the apple onto the devise would outweigh the time taken to peel it by hand. In the end I decided I did not seem worth it.

Repeatedly I ignored the adverts for the apple master until one day when I was scrolling down facebook and a video clip of someone using it started playing before my eyes. At this point I realised that within that one action, the apple was peeled, cored and sliced. It was then that I started to take more interest in it, especially as at around £15, it was not that expensive as kitchen gadgets go.

Having mentally put it onto my Christmas list, I approached this year's apple season with a sort of smugness, knowing that this would be the last season where I would have to peel apples by hand. However, in a conversation with a friend, it turned out she already had an apple master and she asked me if I would like to try hers out before getting one for myself. With apples in need to attention, I readily agreed.

I was surprised by how compact the apple master is, which is a good thing when thinking about cupboard space. Keen to try it out, I gathered up some windfalls and got going. I was impressed by how easy it was to fix the apple onto it - it being nothing more than a stab. Then with the turning of the handle, it peeled it, cored it and turned it into a sort of apple spring. My girls thought this was amazing and both of them straight away wanted to eat an apple spring so that was a bonus! A spring shape isn't the most useful end result I could think of but it is easy from there to slice it into apple rings or chop it into smaller pieces for something like a pie or a chutney.

I have now used it a few times and have given it some pretty challenging apples to try out as my windfalls are all sorts of shapes and sizes and have various patches of bruising, holes and soft bits. There are limits to what it can cope with. If the core doesn't run straight down the middle of the apple then it doesn't remove the core cleanly but this is true for any devise other than a human expertly wielding a knife. If the apple has become soft within the core area then the spike doesn't get a proper grip on the apple, but again this is to be expected. And if there are soft patches on the side of the apple, it makes the peeling part of the devise sort of skip and miss patches of skin, which can be fiddly to remove afterwards. However, this was never designed with awkward shaped windfalls in mind and when I use a sensible shaped, undamaged apple it works perfectly and significantly speeds up processing time. It is easy and fun to use too, which encouraged my children to have a go, allowing them to process an apple with the speed of someone with impressive knife skills. As for cleaning, it is a straightforward design with no fiddly bits or electrical parts and no dismantling required so it can be cleaned easily with a washing up brush. Suffice to say, it is still on my Christmas list and I'm hoping I can hang on to my friend's one for a little longer too!

Here's a recipe for a delicious apple bread that I made with the aid of the apple master and a bread machine (another gardget that earns its place in the kitchen).

Apple & Cinnamon Buns (make 9)

For the Bread:
175ml milk
1 egg
350g white bread flour
1/2 tsp salt
35g caster sugar
50g unsalted butter
2 tsp dried active yeast

For the Apple Puree
4 apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1 tbsp caster sugar
2tbsp water

For the Cinnamon Butter
75g unsalted butter, softened
1 tbsp light brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Demerara sugar for sprinkling

Load the bread machine up with the bread ingredients and set onto the dough setting. In the meantime, put the apple puree ingredients into a small saucepan and cook gently, stirring often, until it mushs down into a thick puree. In a small bowl, cream together the cinnamon butter ingredients. Once the dough is ready, knock it back on a floured surface then roll it out into a large rectangle. Spread the cinnamon butter all over the dough then cover that with the apple puree. Starting at the longest side of the dough, roll up, as tightly as possible. Cut the roll into 9 even sized pieces and place these, cut edge up, in a well greased or lined tin. Cover with greased Clingfilm and leave to rise for 30 to 40 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Once risen, sprinkle the bread with Demerara sugar and place in the oven to cook for 35 to 40 minutes. Serve warm or cool in the tin and eat later.

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