Happy Mabon & Autumn Equinox. The Autumn equinox is when day and night are equal, making it a time of balance. It’s the second of the pagan harvest festivals. is also sometimes know as the Harvest of First Fruits. Mabon is all about giving thanks for the plentiful harvest and sharing fruits ready for winter. It’s a day of gratitude for the abundance of nature that helps through the tough winter months. A day of fires and feasting.
Apples are a common symbol associated with Mabon as this is the time to harvest them. An easy way to celebrate today is to create an apple themed dinner. I’ve put some simple recipe ideas for a Mabon celebration here.
The Starter – Double Apple & Brie Crostini
Makes approximately 20, depending on size of baguette and thickness of slices. Takes about 15 minutes
- 2 apples, sliced thin
- ½ cup apple butter (approximately) – see recipe further down
- 1 wedge of brie, sliced (rind removed if desired)
- 1 baguette
- 1/2 cup of chopped pecans to decorate (optional)
- A tablespoon of honey
- Slice baguette into thin rounds. Toast until lightly browned.
- Spread apple butter on top. Then top with a slice of brie.
- Warm in a 250 degree oven or toaster oven until cheese melts.
- Top each one with an apple slice. Drizzle with honey.
The Main – Savoury Apple Thyme Tart
This recipe makes 2 small tarts, but you can adapt to make one larger one. I think this would be lovely served with a warm root veg salad.
- 1 roll shop bought or home made pastry dough – 1 roll is enough for two individual 6 inch tarts
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion sliced into thin rings
- ½ cup crème fraîche
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
- ½ tablespoon fresh thyme leaves chopped, plus more for garnish
- 1 apple cored and thinly sliced
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough and press into two six-inch tart pans, trimming off excess. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 375°. Line the dough with parchment paper and top with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the parchment and weights. Continue baking until the crust is golden brown and crisp, about 10 minutes more.
- Transfer tart pans to a wire rack and let cool slightly. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°.
- Meanwhile, make the filling: Melt the butter with the olive oil in a pan over medium heat, and swirl the pan to combine. Add the onions and cook until lightly browned and starting to caramelise, about 8 minutes per side. Remove from heat.
- In a bowl, stir together the crème fraîche and mustard and spread evenly over the crust. Sprinkle with half of the cheese and the thyme. Arrange the apple slices and onions on top. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and season with salt and pepper.
- Bake on the top oven shelf until the pastry is golden and the cheese is melted, about 15 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes. Garnish with thyme, cut into slices and serve.
The Pudding – Apple & Cinnamon Cake
- 210 grams (1 and 1/2 cups) plain flour or all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 150 grams (3/4 cup) caster sugar or granulated sugar
- 1 cup (approximately 1 large) red apple, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 120 ml (1/2 cup) vegetable oil
- 120 ml (1/2 cup) Greek yogurt
- 50 grams (1/4 cup) caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon butter, melted
- Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F) standard / 160 C (320 F) fan-forced. Grease and line an 8 or 9 inch round cake tin with baking or parchment paper.
- In a large mixing bowl, add flour, baking powder, baking soda and sugar. Add chopped apple and stir briefly to combine.
- In a separate bowl, add eggs, vanilla, oil and yoghurt. Whisk briefly just to break up the egg yolks.
- Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and gently mix with a wooden spoon until combined – but be careful not to over mix. Spoon batter into prepared tin.
- To make cinnamon topping, combine cinnamon, sugar and butter. Mix together until lumpy and wet. Sprinkle over cake batter.
- Bake cake for approximately 30-35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Transfer cake to a wire rack to cool completely.
I make vats of this every year as it’s a great way to use up apples when you’ve got a really big harvest which we have again this year at our community orchard. I usually make double the recipe as it takes 12 hours to cook down in total so it’s worth making up a lot in one go. I especially like this recipe because you don’t need to peel all the apples, I’m not a fan of peeling.
Apple butter is a great alternative to jam on crumpets or toast and tastes really good in porridge or Greek yoghurt too.
- 5.5 lbs / 2.5kg soft, sweet apples cored and chopped into small pieces, about ¼”
- 1 cup brown sugar firmly packed (200g)
- ¾ cup granulated sugar (150g)
- 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 vanilla bean (or 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract)
Slice the apples into small pieces (ca 1/4″) and core them. You don’t need to peel them.
Place apples in a large heavy pan
In a medium-sized bowl stir together sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and cloves until well-combined.
Pour sugar mixture over apple pieces and stir until well combined.
Place lid on pan and cook on low heat for 10 hours.
After 10 hours, use a hand blender to puree the apples in the pan until smooth and no chunks.
Scrape the inside of the vanilla bean into your apple puree (or add vanilla extract).
Turn the heat down to low and cook another 2 hours uncovered, stirring occasionally.
Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container, where it will keep about 2 weeks.
You can celebrate by going apple picking with friends or getting together and share an Autumnal meal. Or you can make up jars of apple butter to give as little gifts to friends and family. Decorate your table with pinecones and a bowl of apples. Light warm yellow beeswax candles. Drink a cup of warm mulled apple juice.
Keep an eye out on local Facebook community groups for people giving away apples too as so many people end up with more than they can eat. If you live in Bristol and want some apples from our community orchard or a jar of apple butter, send me an email. I’d love to know if you try any of these recipes.