Tag Archives: apple

Local & handpicked blackberry & apple crumble cake…

Last week I took a rare break in the middle of a busy day of baking, packed my lunch into a bag and ventured into my local graveyard to make the most of the sunshine. Now, you may think it a bit of a strange place to enjoy a picnic but Mill Road cemetery is a stones throw from my house and is a veritable sanctuary away from, well, everything! It’s so beautiful and peaceful and at the moment it’s also chocablock with blackberries…

Unfortunately, on that occasion I didn’t have the time or a suitable receptacle to take any with me but a couple of days later I went on a blackberry picking mission and after pricking myself numerous times and getting well and truly scratched up (I even managed to spike myself in the head, be warned, blackerry bushes are evil buggers) I ended up with a bumper crop…

Just a couple of words of warning…beware of picking from low hanging branches 😉 and before you get baking/eating, make sure you wash them really well to get rid of all of any little friends who may be camping out in your fruit!

I recalled a recipe I’d used a couple of years ago for a blackberry and apple loaf and decided I’d scale it up a bit to make an 8 inch (20cm) cake…

You can either follow the recipe in the link above to make a loaf or use these quantities to make an 8 inch round cake…

375g self raising flour

265g butter

265g light muscovado sugar

3/4 tsp cinnamon

3 rounded tbsp demerara sugar

1 1/2 small eating apple, quartered (not cored or peeled)

3 eggs

1 1/2 oranges, finely grated zest

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

340g blackberries

and then just follow the same recipe (here) to make the most delicious apple & blackberry apple crumble cake, even the better for having picked the blackberries yourself!

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Rhubarb & apple crumble with walnut topping…

On Friday afternoon I saw this tweet for help from FoodCycle Cambridge

We’ve 2 slots free on our cooking rota for tomorrow, no experience needed, 9.30am-12.30 at the Centre@StPauls. Get in touch if interested!

and bearing in mind what a great time I’d had last time (blogged here) I jumped at the chance to help out! After team introductions we were shown the booty of surplus food that had been collected and the menu was revealed…

Last time I had been too scared to volunteer to be on dessert duty because, although I love baking, I was nervous about scaling it up to the size needed to feed 30 odd hungry people! However, this time I decided to face my fears head on! We were in real luck with the donation of (surplus/waste) food, we had a huge pile of rhubarb…

some cooking apples and some oat and raisin cereal bars so decided to, with the aid of a few staple ingredients like butter and flour, make 2 giant trays of rhubarb and apple crumble based on this recipe on the Good Food website.

We sliced the rhubarb into approximate 4cm sections and cooked it in a saucepan on the hob with some sugar for about 15 minutes…

By which time it was really juicy…

We sliced the cooking apples and mixed them in. We didn’t pre-cook them in the hope that once the crumble had been baked in the oven they would still retain a bit of bite instead of turning to mush.

To make the topping we rubbed the butter into plain flour until our hands ached but it had the texture of breadcrumbs! Then we added the sugar (dark brown and granulated), some ground almonds, chopped walnuts for added crunch and the broken up donated cereal bars…

We poured this over the trays of fruits and popped them into the oven to bake…

The kitchen was a hive of activity as the team created the rest of the meal…

We used the rest of our time to get on with our side dessert of raspberry and orange fruit salad, which was made purely from donated food…

It was simply the segmented sections and juice from 5 oranges, a few punnets of ripe raspberries and some chopped fresh mint. The result was deliciously refreshing and the perfect, juicy accompaniment to the crumble. 

The frittata looked and smelled amazing especially once it was topped with gorgeous, bubbling melted cheese…

and was served up with new potatoes, roasted red peppers and tomatoes and green beans sautéed with garlic…

I watched the crumbles like a hawk but despite the slight unpredictability of the ovens, they turned out beautifully golden brown and bubbling around the edges…

They were slightly top heavy, which suited me perfectly as a complete crumble topping fiend 🙂

But without further ado, here’s the finished article, my rhubarb and apple crumble with walnut topping served with raspberry, orange and mint salad…

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Ditch the detox and get baking…apple, walnut & custard cake…

One of my favourite Christmas presents was my ‘Short & Sweet’ recipe book by Dan Lepard (or Def Leppard as my Mum has coined him)…

His recipes in the Guardian magazine have had my mouth watering on many occasions and I’ve already attempted his clementine and oat muffins

his herb roti, which I served up with a curry made from Christmas leftovers…

and his sticky lemon and poppy seed cake

However, my first choice from the many ‘must bake’ items, which I’ve earmarked, was this amazing apple, walnut and custard cake…

There are three main stages to this cake, so not the quickest of bakes but well worth the effort!

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees and line a 20cm cake tin with greaseproof paper.

First up you need to make the custard. You’ll need…

175ml milk

2 tsp vanilla extract

50g light soft brown sugar

2 tbsp cornflour

1 medium egg

Whisk all of the ingredients above, together in a saucepan until smooth. Bring to the boil, whisking continously until it’s thick. I found that the turning point came about very suddenly so don’t get complacent, just keep whisking! Once it’s reached a very thick consistency, spoon it into a lightly buttered bowl and chill until firm. 

Next up you need to prepare your apple and walnut filling. You need…

50g light soft brown sugar

3-4 dessert apples, peeled, cored and quartered

75ml brandy

75ml water

75g walnuts, chopped

Place all of the ingredients above in a frying pan and cook over a high heat until the liquid has evaporated. Then leave to cool whilst you make the cake batter. For that you’ll need…

100g light soft brown sugar

75g unsalted butter, softened 

2 eggs

50g plain flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

Beat the sugar and butter together with an electric or handheld mixer (or a lot of elbow grease) until light and smooth. Beat the eggs in one at a time until thoroughly incorporated. Finally stir in the flour and baking powder with a spoon. Chop the set custard into chunks and fold into the cake batter being careful not to break it up. Now, tip it into the prepared cake tin… 

and finally, place spoonfuls of the apple and walnut mixture on top. Swirl it slightly with a teaspoon to make sure it’s bedded in well. Then pop it into the oven for about 50 minutes…

At which point it will look like this…

Serve it warm, drizzled with maple syrup and a good dollop of creme fraiche…

The apples retain a slight crunch, the walnuts are beautifully caramelised and brandyfied and if that weren’t enough, you’re rewarded with fantastic pockets of vanilla laden custard…sheer heaven on a plate! ditch the detox and get baking!

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Foraging in the fens

I decided this weekend that it was high time I escaped London and visited my friends and family back in Cambridge. There’s something about going home to the flat, open fenlands that gives me an enormous sense of wellbeing and calm. However by Sunday I was having severe baking withdrawal symptoms so I started trawling my Mums vast cookery book collection and came across a book called ‘101 cakes and bakes’. I discovered a recipe for blackberry and apple loaf, which I have also found on the Good Food website here.

Now is the season for both blackberries…

and apples…

so I had the perfect chance to make the most of the fruits growing on my doorstep and in my parents garden. After a yummy homemade Sunday lunch me and my brother went foraging for blackberries straight from the hedgerow…it felt extremely wholesome and we managed to collect a bumper crop…

enough for my cake, with some left over to put in the freezer for another day.

Here’s the recipe I followed for blackberry and apple loaf –

250g self raising flour

175g butter

175g light muscovado sugar

1/2tsp cinnamon

2 rounded tbsp demerara sugar

1 small eating apple, quartered (not cored or peeled)

2 large eggs, beaten

1 orange, finely grated zest

1tsp baking powder

225g blackberries

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Grease and line a (1.7 litre) loaf tin.

This recipe uses a bit of a different method…you rub the flour, butter and muscovado sugar together with your fingertips to make fine crumbs. Measure out 5 tbsp of this mixture in a separate bowl, mix with the demerara sugar and cinnamon and set aside to use later as the topping for the loaf.

Coarsely grate the apple and mix with the eggs and the zest. 

Stir the baking powder into the rubbed-in mixture in the large bowl and then quickly stir in the egg mixture until incorporated but be careful not to overmix.

Carefully fold in 3/4 of the berries trying not to break them up. Spoon the mixture into the tin and level it out. Scatter the remaining berries on top and sprinkle over the topping mix.

Bake for 50 minutes, remove from the oven and cover it loosely with tin foil to stop it browning too much. Then return it to the oven for 20-30 minutes until firm. Insert a sharp knife or skewer, if it comes out clean the cake is ready!

Leave in the tin for 30 minutes…

 before turning it out onto a wire rack to cool…

then slice and revel in it’s beauty…

The recipe says that it will keep for up to 2 days in a tin, however it’s so delicious and moreish, that if you’re anything like me and my family, it probably won’t last longer than a couple of hours let alone days.

The blackberries are tangy, the cake is rich and extremely moist and the topping adds a gorgeous crunchy texture…

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