The perfect menu for a cosy night in, from slow-cooked lamb to sticky apple cake

The perfect menu for a cosy night in, from meltingly slow-cooked lamb to autumnal loaf cake
Why venture out when you can cook up some comfort-food classics? Credit: Laura Edwards 

I adore this time of year. The fruit and veg is amazing, the nights are long and cosy, and all I want to do is cook things slowly and curl up on the sofa, before the chaos of Christmas begins.

This menu ticks all the boxes. It is gentle, seasonal, and its dishes will make you and your guests feel as though you’re being enveloped in a big cable-knit blanket.

A side of greens and a bottle or two of red wine are the only extras needed. Oh, and maybe a few candles for added cosiness.

As with most of my recipes, there is a lot here that can be made ahead. The lamb would be all the more delicious. I love going out for a crisp afternoon walk and returning to a home filled with the smell of a simmering stew, or a sweet, sticky cake, so it’s 
a win-win.

Georgie Hayden offers up a dreamy menu you won't mind staying in for  Credit: sophia spring


Caramelised-apple and hazelnut 
upside-down loaf

For a really autumnal pud, serve this cake with a jug of custard.

Prep time: 20 minutes | Cooking time: 55 minutes 

SERVES 

eight -10

INGREDIENTS 

  • 230g butter, plus extra for greasing the tin
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 100ml apple juice
  • 2 apples
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 200g blanched hazelnuts
  • 3 large eggs
  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • a splash of milk
  • crème fraîche or custard, to serve

METHOD 

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/
160C fan/gas mark 4. Grease and line a loaf tin.
  2. Place 100g of the caster sugar in a small pan with the apple juice and 30g of the butter. Pop on a medium heat and bring to the boil. Swirl the mixture in the pan (don’t stir it with a spoon) until all the sugar has dissolved and reduce the heat a little, to simmer for five minutes or until the mixture is lightly golden. At this point, pour the caramel into the tin.
  3. Peel and quarter the apples, remove the cores, then slice into wedges about 1cm thick (they don’t have to be perfect). Sprinkle the caramel with a pinch of sea salt, then arrange the apple slices 
in the tin, in a single layer (a little overlap is fine).
  4. Place 175g of the hazelnuts in a food processor and grind until you have a fine powder. Cut the remaining 200g butter into cubes and place in the food processor bowl with the remaining caster sugar. Blitz until smooth, then add the eggs and blitz again.
  5. Add the flour, baking powder and a splash of milk, and pulse until just combined. When completely mixed together, spoon the batter into the lined tin.
  6. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the 
cake is cooked through 
(a skewer inserted into the middle should come out clean). Leave to cool in the tin for five minutes, then turn the cake out.
  7. Roughly chop the remaining hazelnuts and sprinkle over the top. Serve warm or cooled, with a dollop of crème fraîche on the side.