The Historic Draper Apple Cake Recipe

Complete article

Published May, 2011

The historic Draper Apple Cake. Information credit Rosemary Inglis, Ross McDonald, Bruce G. Draper and Nillumbik Shire Council. Photo credit Rosemary Inglis (of her demonstration of the cake)

This delicious apple cake has been the calling card at local dances, birthdays and parties for the Draper family of Arthurs Creek and surrounds for generations.  It is perhaps not surprising that they like their apples, as their ancestor, Charles Draper, was the pioneer fruit grower of the district.

Charles Draper, his wife Catherine, and their two children arrived in Port Phillip (Victoria) in 1853. In 1862 he was one of the first selectors to acquire land in Arthur’s Creek which he named ‘Charnwood’ after forest area of Leicestershire, England where he grew up.

In the 1880s when the Arthurs Creek district became a major source of Melbourne’s fruit supply it was reported that one of the best, and most extensive, orchards in the colony was situated at ‘Charnwood’. Not a bad achievement for a self-taught horticulturalist.  As well as winning awards, Charles Draper’s fruit was exhibited internationally, including at the Vienna International Exhibition in 1873; American Centennial Exhibition, Philadelphia in 1876; Paris Exhibition in 1878; and Colonial and Indian Exhibition, London in 1886.  Prior to 1873 fruit was modelled in wax for display overseas. The Museum of Victoria’s collection includes forty wax models, made by Thomas McMillan in 1875, of apples and pears grown by Charles Draper.

Charles Draper was one of the first Victorians to export apples and introduced the Jonathan variety of apple from America under the name of Marston’s Red Winter.  His official horticultural roles included being a fellow of the Royal Horticultural Society of London, and of the Victorian Horticultural Society, and on the inaugural Board of Advice for the Management of the Horticultural Gardens at Burnley.  When he died in 1909 his name was a household word among fruit growers who regarded him as an authority on the orchard.

The original recipe for the apple cake continues to be passed down through the family, sometimes with an individual tweak or two, and in 2011 Ross McDonald and Bruce G. Draper (both descendants of Charles and Catherine Draper) were invited to give a presentation at the Eltham District Historical Society where they hoped to introduce guests to the historic Draper Apple cake.  The recipe was kindly passed to them by Rosemary Inglis, a descendent of the Glenburn branch of the Draper family (also descended from Charles and Catherine), and was generously baked on this occasion by a member of the Eltham District Historical Society.

The recipe:

3 large cups of plain flour.

3 teaspoons of cream of tartar.

1 ½ teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda.

1 small cup of butter or dripping.

½ a cup of sugar.

2 eggs.

Apples stewed and well-drained.

To make the historic cake:

Heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Rub butter into dry ingredients.  Add eggs (and a small amount of cold water if necessary).  Divide pastry in half and roll out on a well-floured slab.  It is very short and falls apart easily but can be patched.

Place on the oven try.

Spread apple on half the pastry and cover with remaining pastry.

Cook for 25 to 30 minutes.

Set the cake on top of a wire rack which has been set on a rimmed baking sheet. Ice the cake using a small spatula to smooth and even it out. Let it dry at least 2 hours before slicing the cake.

To make the historic icing:

4 large egg whites

1 pound powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until foamy.  Whisk in the powdered sugar, a little at a time, until you have a smooth icing. Whisk in the vanilla extract.

 

Thomas McMillan, maker. Apple model – Winter Majetin, Hazelglen, Victoria, 1875. Wax, pigment. On loan from Museum Victoria. The Technological and Industrial Museum’s economic botany collection recorded and advertised the economic potential of Australia’s agricultural products. Among these were fruit and vegetables. In order to demonstrate Victoria’s capacity in this area of production, and in the absence of colour photography, the museum commissioned wax models of local specimens. Trained model makers, many of whom were women, worked in the museum laboratory making models that documented healthy, diseased and unusual examples of fruit and vegetables. These were placed on permanent display for the education of the general public. This model is of a Winter Majetin, a cooking apple, which was grown by Charles Draper of Hazelglen in 1875 (Hazelglen was then the district name, later being named Arthurs Creek and Doreen). Photo credit Bruce G. Draper
Illustrations for wax fruit models. The Horticultural Society played a prominent part in the development of the fruit export trade. Mr Charles Draper was one of the first Victorians to export apples, which were included in the shipment arranged by Mr John Carson of Kew for display at the Vienna International Exhibition in 1873. This was the first time fresh fruit had been exported from Victoria to Europe. Prior to this modelled fruits in wax were sent overseas for display. Photo credit Bruce G. Draper
Thomas McMillan, maker. Apple model – Winter Majetin, Hazelglen, Victoria, 1875. Wax, pigment. On loan from Museum Victoria. The Technological and Industrial Museum’s economic botany collection recorded and advertised the economic potential of Australia’s agricultural products. Among these were fruit and vegetables. In order to demonstrate Victoria’s capacity in this area of production, and in the absence of colour photography, the museum commissioned wax models of local specimens. Trained model makers, many of whom were women, worked in the museum laboratory making models that documented healthy, diseased and unusual examples of fruit and vegetables. These were placed on permanent display for the education of the general public. This model is of a Winter Majetin, a cooking apple, which was grown by Charles Draper of Hazelglen in 1875 (Hazelglen was then the district name, later being named Arthurs Creek and Doreen). Photo credit Bruce G. Draper
1893 List of New Fruit Trees Grown For Sale By Charles Draper 'Charnwood', Arthurs Creek. This historic catalogue contains varieties that were popular at the time, in addition to new varieties that Charles Draper introduced to the market. Each variety has a detailed description. Apples include Delaware Red Winter, Isham Sweet, Lawver, M’Mahan’s White, M’Intosh Red, Mann, Walbridge, Wolf River, Beauty of Bath, Cumberland Favourite, Castle Major, Belle Pontoise, Hangan’s Golden Pippin, Harvey Wiltshire Defiance, Lady Sudeley, Potts’s Seedling, Queen Caroline, Red Bietigheimer, September Beauty, Pile’s Russet, Griton House. A cherry called Olivette. Peaches called Arkansas Traveller, Beer’s Smock, Bilyen’s Late October, Bonanza, Chinese Cling, Chair’s Choice, Elberta, Foster, Governor Garland, The Globe, Garey’s Hold-On, Large Early York, Lady Ingold, La Grange, Morris White, Muir, Nichol’s Organge Cling, Old Mixon Free, Pratt, Reeve’s Favourite, Schumaker, Thurber, The Wonderful, Wager, Wheat Land, Winter’s Cling. Plums including Grand Duke, Silver Prune, Kelsey. Pears called Belle D’Ecully, Beacon, Beurre Benoist, Beurre Baltet Pere, Beurre Dumont, Comte De Chambord, Doyenne De Melode, President D’Osmondville, Marie Benoist, Magnate. Image credit Draper family
Pear tree near Running Creek above 'Charnwood', Arthurs Creek. At the International Exhibition Melbourne 1880-81, Charles Draper was awarded a silver medal for his collection of fruits. ‘That one grower (Mr. Draper) tabled a collection of 199 varieties of apples and 49 varieties of pears is noteworthy, in being perhaps an incident that has no parallel in the history of Victorian shows.’ Photo credit Bruce G. Draper, November 2003

 

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