Autumnal Crumble and other Berrilicious Delights

So our gorgeous new puppy, Kenya, has been the catalyst for a serious increase in countryside walks and spin-off benefits include a freezer-full of blackberries. There is also a lot more mud to deal with, particularly as it has been so wet, but  I suppose there has to be some sort of cost to foraging….

I shall start with a plum and blackberry crumble, which was inspired by Nigella Lawson’s new series Nigellissima, to which I have been glued, naturally, but Amaretti biscuits are only just available in some supermarkets, so I have come up with a store cupboard alternative.

Autumnal Crumble (serves 6)

You will need for the fruit base: 2 punnets of Plums, (these are currently on offer in Sainsburys, the firm round variety), a punnet of Blackberries or 150g or so, 3 tbsp Marsala Wine, 2 tbsp of soft brown sugar.

You will need for the crumble: 150g Plain or Self Raising Flour, 75g Butter, fridge cold, 75g Rolled Oats, 75g Brown Sugar, 75g Chopped Hazelnuts or Chopped Almonds, pretoasted or not is fine.

So I expect this hardly needs directions but here we go:

  • Wash the plums, halve, remove the stone and halve again, pop in a saucepan with the Marsala, sugar and 3 tbsp of water.
  • Cook over a gentle heat until the plums are tender and the sugar dissolved, about 5 – 10 minutes. You want to retain some bite to the fruit.
  • Pop these in an ovenproof dish minus the liquid and add the blackberries and mix in.
  • To make the crumble topping, rub the butter into the flour either by hand or using a mixer until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs and then stir in all the other ingredients.
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C
  • Just before you wish to cook your crumble sprinkle the topping over the fruit and then bake for around 30 minutes until any juice is bubbling and the topping is browned.
  • The cooking liquor from the plums can be reduced over a moderate heat to create a delicious syrup.

Another favourite round here, Orange Berry Salad (serves 4)

You will need: 4 or 5 Oranges, thin-skinned for preference, 4 tbsp of Maple Syrup, 2 tbsp of Orange juice, a large handful or more of Blackberries and a sprinkling of Toasted Flaked Almonds, (you can buy toasted flaked almonds or toast your own, but they toast quickly so don’t leave them to their own devices for a second).

  • Peel the oranges with a sharp knife so that you remove the pith too, and slice to give wheel-like slices.
  • Arrange on a shallow serving dish of appropriate size.
  • In a small saucepan heat together the syrup and orange juice, and pour over the oranges.
  • Scatter over some blackberries and chill.
  • Just before serving sprinkle with toasted flaked almonds

Goes well with cake or tarts like frangipan, something slightly dry on its own.

If you do not have maple syrup, you can make a sugar syrup with 50g of sugar and 50ml of water, heat gently in a saucepan until the sugar dissolves and allow to boil gently for 2 minutes. To flavour, add a little honey or brandy! Cool a little and pour over the oranges.

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Early Morning Victory for Murray so it’s Vermont Maple Syrup Breakfast Muffins

Well, finally we have a tennis champion after millions of years or whatever the statistic is. Fantastic news! So to celebrate I am making Vermont Maple syrup breakfast muffins with a British Autumnal twist as we woke up to the news early this morning here in the UK.

This is based primarily on a recipe in the muffin lovers Bible: The Joy of Muffins by Genevieve Farrow and Diane Dreher which is still in print I see and a snip at about £6, but with the addition of oat bran and blackberries.

You will need (for 12):

1 ½ cups of Plain Flour, ½ cup Oat Bran, 4 tsp Baking Powder, ½ tsp Salt, 1 large Egg, ½ cup Milk, ½ cup Maple Syrup, ½ cup melted Butter, cooled slightly, 1 cup Blackberries and a sprinkling of icing sugar.

Preheat the oven to 210°C/Fan 200°C.  Combine the flour, oat bran, salt and baking powder in a bowl and in a separate bowl combine the egg, milk, syrup and whisk together and then whisk in the butter. Add the wet to the dry and fold for about 10-15 fold actions and then add the blackberries and continue to fold in for another 5 fold actions or so. Don’t forget: a light touch makes for lighter muffins. Dollop into a 12 hole muffin tin, with or without cases and bake for 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and sprinkle with icing sugar.

The kitchen will take on a fabulous aroma of maple syrup firstly and then blackberries and when you try one, hopefully warm you have the rich flavour of butter behind the main ingredients and a lovely nutty texture. Yummy.

You can always leave out the oat bran and use 2 cups of plain flour instead and blueberries instead of blackberries.

Posts, I think are going to come weekly for the time being as we have very recently welcomed the gorgeous creature below into our home:

She is a cocker spaniel, 8.5 weeks and we named her Kenya.

Anyway, it won’t be long before she settles down, I hope, and the baking can continue in earnest, but in the meantime I am cooking speedily!!

The Cutest Cakes: Classic Cakes

Lilies and Pearls

The Cutest Cakes: Cupcakes

Rosebud Vanilla Cupcake

The Cutest Cakes: Individual Iced Cakes

Miniature Fruit Cake

Details for The Cutest Cakes can be found at www.cutestcakes.co.uk or if you click the image on the side bar you will be transported there.