Apple glut? Here’s something from Guernsey for you to try



Craig Hamilton was offering around some cooking apples on the Twitters recently and I said “I’ll take a tonne off you”. So he duly dropped a 25 kilo potato sack brimming with bramleys round my house. Fantastic. I’ve risen to the challenge and got busy with my apples. Mum and Dad were coming up, so the first thing I wanted to do was to make a gâche melée with her.


Gâche melée is a local thing from back home in Guernsey. Our other key local cake is called gâche but the two are totally unrelated. If you’ve ever had Dorset apple cake, then you know the sort of thing this is: stick to your ribs appley goodness. Here’s one I made earlier (I thought I’d focussed the camera but it seems I totally forgot).

What does it taste like? Pure comfort food. It’s what you eat on a late summer night when you’ve been swimming in the sea til past dark. It’s bonfire night on a plate, and the taste of lengthening nights as you head to Christmas. It’s a bowlful of my childhood. And standing around my table peeling apples with my mum and my little boy was one of the nicest mornings of cooking I’ve ever done.
There are a range of recipes for gâche melée here:

Like Mum used to make

My Mum’s method is as follows

1/2 lb butter / suet / margarine
1lb sugar
2 eggs
1lb plain flour
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
3lb apples


You’re basically looking to do is make up a cake mix, and then add the apples to it.


1. peel & slice the apples
2. cream the butter and sugar
3. beat in the eggs
4. fold in the flour and spices
5. fold in the apples
6. cook


This recipe does one loaf tin and a a springform sponge tin worth. We’ve always used metal dishes (enamel or non-stick) – some of the other recipes discuss baking trays and the suggestion is that pyrex is no good. Mum used to use a big roasting tin for hers.


Mum’s notes say gas mark 3 for about two hours, but you can get away with higher and quicker. Standard issues skewer test to check it’s done.


If you make more than you can eat, wrap it up tightly and pop it in the freezer.


So that’s the recipe – try it if you’re bored of crumble. And let me know what you think.

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Jon Hickman

Hi, I'm Jon. I teach and research digital culture, social media and new media practice at Birmingham City University. Find out more about me with this lovely CV: Find out about my work at the Birmingham Centre for Media & Cultural Research:

  • Liz Walton

    Hi Jon- i use a different recipe and method and have won several prizes with it. First i reckon a large flat tin works better- roasting tin type. Second- you really need to chop the sugar into the apples to get the juice running to give it a full apple flavour. Peel, core and roughly chop 2 lb of Bramleys, sprinkle 6 0z granulated sugar over then chop into the bowl with a sharp knife til apple is in little chips, no more sugar can be seen and juices run. Stir in 4 oz veggie suet, and then 10 oz SR flour. Add 2 eggs, lightly beaten- mix ahould be like a batter with apple chunks in it. Pour into prepared tin and bake for about 40-45 mins at 170 fan. It needs to be a deep golden brown with apple bits starting to caramelise.

    • Jon Hickman

      Thanks for this! Agree with the roasting tin, as I said in the post Mum always used one I just didn’t have one handy that day (there was probably a roast in the oven already…

  • jobacon

    None of these are right for gâche melee which I learned to make on Guernsey. You MUSTmix the apples and sugar together, mix the spices into the flour and sprinkle the flour over the apple mixture. Leave in a warm place for 2 hours and you will find the malic acid in the apples will act almost like yeast on the flour, making it lighter. For shortening you can use vegetable fat or animal suet. You do not even need to use SR flour and you can even use wholemeal flour