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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