Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sunshack Apple Cider

Since the sun is out and we are enjoying some warmer weather this week I thought it appropriate that I review Sunshack Apple Cider for this week's edition of Cider Sunday.

Firstly, it comes in a nice big 500ml bottle - which is perfect for sharing ( unless like me you'd prefer to keep it to yourself).

I previously reviewed Sunshack Pear Cider  and as the name implies - both ciders radiate warmth and fun. I love the simplicity of the screen printed design on the bottle which is both unique and appealing.

Brewed and cold fermented in Mittagong in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, this one is a great example of what this region is renowned for - A culinary haven brimming with quality ingredients, foodies experiences and boutique products.

With a nice golden clear hue, the cider is made with water from a sandstone spring on site. The flavours of this cider a quite floral and it has a fine carbonation and balanced sweetness. A well developed acidic structure finishes dry on the palate - not dissimilar to the granny smith apple variety.

This one is best enjoyed with sunshine, a big glass of ice and fresh light flavours - crisp salads, seafood or with a selection of barbecued marinated meats and char-grilled vegetables. Mmmmm.

At 4.5% alcohol, a 500ml bottle will provide you with 1.8 standard drinks.

The Food Mentalist purchased Sunshack Apple Cider @ Camperdown Cellars.

A 500ml bottle retails for about $7.50

For additional stockists or to purchase online check out Sunshack online 

It's a gorgeous day here in Sydney. What are you up to?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Cider Sunday - John Kepplers Irish Cider

My love affair with cider first began during our honeymoon when we visited London, where the popularity of cider is huge! Since then I have watched Australia's cider market really take off - all within the space of 2 years. It's been an exciting ride, and I love sampling all of the new Australian ciders that have entered the market - there are some really talented cider makers here.

In stark contrast, comes this weeks cider from Ireland - John Kepplers Irish Cider. An interesting cider mainly due to its fairly lengthy ingredients list: cider, sugar, malic acid, tannic acid, apple aroma and several colours. Not the best way to start, I know.

That said, I was very surprised to read that this cider is one of the best sellers in Ireland and has a wide distribution around the world. Hmmm.

Firstly, you can't help but notice ( be blinded) by the bright yellow hue of this cider - but again this can be best attributed to the 'ponceau4R & tartazine' colours which have been added to the cider. The apple aroma is very pleasant and almost delicious, however, it too has been added.

In terms of the rest - Well this one has nice apple flavours and quite a nice balanced sweetness albeit added through the addition of sugar. It has a light to medium carbonation, is medium bodied and finishes somewhat dry.

Overall, an ok cider - but I couldn't get past all the added extras - especially the added colours and sugar. In my opinion, a good cider needs none of these.

At 4.5% a 568ml bottle will give you about 2.6 standard drinks.

The Food Mentalist purchased John Kepplers Irish Cider at The Wine Society, Ultimo.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Cider Sunday - Small Acres Poire

First thing I noticed about this cider when I opened the bottle was it's lovely fragrant pear and floral aromas . And in keeping with other Small Acres Cyder products, this one has a nice level of sophistication. Pale and clear with a very fine carbonation and balanced sweetness, this cider is similar to a good dessert wine, without being sugary. It is definitely a great alternative. As far as pear ciders go, this one is made with 100% fruit and does not contain any artificial colours or flavours - it's definitely one of my favourite Australian Pear Ciders. 

With very little acid, this cider will appeal to the majority of mainstream cider drinkers and after talking with the cider makers at Small Acres - their brief was just that. When paired against other commercial pear ciders this one definitely stands out. Overall, a fantastic pear cider!

This one will pair really well with a great cheese platter and/or fruity dessert.

At 5% alcohol, a 330ml bottle will provide you with 1.3 standard drinks. 

For stockists please check out Small Acres Cyder here

The Food Mentalist purchased Small Acres Poire for $5.00 (330ml) at the Country & Regional Living Expo at Rosehill Racecourse.

To check out other Small Acres Cyder products check out my other posts on the right hand side.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Cider Sunday - Cider Pound Cake

Here's a cider version of the classic pound cake for you to enjoy. The pound cake has universal appeal - the Americans like to add sour cream to theirs which gives it a nice tang and cuts out some of the butter, the British add vanilla for richness, the Mexicans like to add walnuts or raisins to theirs, the Colombians soak theirs in wine and the French will often add lemon juice or chocolate. There is even a National Day to celebrate the Pound Cake in the U.S - March 4th - Love it!

Traditionally made with a pound of each ingredient - butter, flour, eggs and sugar - this cake recipe makes quite a bit of batter and can be halved if you wish to make a smaller cake. I substituted the plain flour for some gluten free alternatives ( see below) and it turned out quite well.

This is not an overly sweet cake despite the sugar, cider and maple syrup. It is incredibly dense and moist and has an almost pudding like texture. I gave my Nan a small slab of it and she enjoyed it and added it would be nice served piping hot with a good dollop of custard. Nice one Nan! That's definitely do-able during this cold winter weather.

For this cake, I used some of The Hills Company Hybrid Series - Apple & Ginger which was perfect given the spice element in the cake. You can use any cider though - pear, apple or otherwise. For something different you could always add a maple syrup glaze to the cake, or as my Nan suggests - serve it hot with a generous dollop of vanilla custard.


Cider Pound Cake
Serves 10-12

3 cups cider ( I used The Hills Cider Company Hybrid - Apple & Ginger)
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cups butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup grated apple or pear ( any variety is fine - I used Granny Smith)
3 cups all-purpose flour ( I used 1/2 gluten free plain flour, 1/2 brown rice flour and 1/2 tsp xanthan gum)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt

Bring the cider to the boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Continue boiling the apple cider for 25 to 35 minutes, until it has reduced to slightly less than 1 cup in volume. Remove the cider from the heat and add the maple syrup. Allow to cool.

Preheat and oven to 165'C (325F). Lightly grease a 10-inch bundt cake pan or large loaf pan and set it aside.

Cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating for a few seconds after each addition. Stir together the remaining dry ingredients (flour, spices, baking powder, and salt) and then add half of the dry ingredients to the creamed butter-egg mixture and beat until most of the flour is incorporated.

Add the cooled cider-maple syrup reduction to the cake batter and beat for 30 seconds. Add the grated fruit, stir to combine and then beat in the remainder of the dry ingredients. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake in oven for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until a cake skewer inserted comes out clean.

Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Shake pan from side to side to loosen the cake (you should hear and feel a light thumping), and use a small rubber spatula to loosen any stubborn sides. Place a serving platter over the top of the cake and invert it, removing the pan form the top of the cake to allow it to cool completely.

What is your favourite pound cake recipe?

You may also like to try Bill Granger's delicious lemon pound cake recipe which I made last year here