How to make the best Apple & Blackberry Crumble!

What a wonderful time of year Autumn is.  The hedgerows are full of ripe blackberries and the trees are laden with juicy apples; it’s the perfect time to try your hand at making England’s favourite pud!

I’m happy to say that, having found this recipe, I’m a crumble convert! The crunchy topping is simply delicious, occasionally I add a handful of mixed nuts and seeds to the crumble mixture to give it a little je ne sais quoi and change it up a bit!

Cooking the two elements separately is new to me but definitely my preferred method from now on.  I’ve even got adventurous with the fruit and added blueberries and raspberries to the mix, after all I’m sure this counts towards my 5 a day (or is it 7 now?)!

Have a go and make use of what nature does best, you’ll certainly earn yourself some brownie points in the cooking department and they will be calling you Nigella in no time 😉

Ingredients

For the crumble topping
  • 120g plain flour
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 60g unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into pieces

For the fruit compote

  • 300g apple – preferably Braeburns!
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 30g demerara sugar
  • 115g blackberries
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • vanilla ice cream or piping hot custard to serve

Method

  1. Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5.
  2. Pop 120g of plain flour and 60g of caster sugar into a large bowl. Add 60g of unsalted butter, then rub into the flour using your fingertips to make a light breadcrumb texture. Do not overwork it or the crumble will become heavy and a processor can make the crumbs so fine you end up … with a cakey rather than crumbly texture.
  3. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over a baking sheet and bake for 15 mins or until lightly coloured.
  4. Meanwhile, for the compote, peel, core and cut 300g Braeburn apples into 2cm dice.
  5. Put 30g of unsalted butter and 30g of demerara sugar in a medium saucepan and melt together over a medium heat. Cook for 3 mins until the mixture turns to a light caramel.
  6. Stir in the apples and cook for 3 mins. Add 115g of blackberries and ¼ tsp ground cinnamon, and cook for 3 mins more.
  7. Cover, remove from the heat, then leave for 2-3 mins to continue cooking in the warmth of the pan.
  8. To serve, spoon the warm fruit into an ovenproof gratin dish, top with the crumble mix, then reheat in the oven for 5-10 mins. Serve with vanilla ice cream or piping hot custard and enjoy 🙂

Recipe courtesy of BBC Food.

How to make unbelievably easy mince pies.

Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without the traditional mince pie! Crisp shortcrust pastry hiding a mouthwatering, spiced fruit filling, simply perfect for your festive gathering.

As you take the first bite memories will come flooding back, Christmas baking with Mum, making sure Santa’s little treat is ready on Christmas Eve and burning your lip on the hot mincemeat because you can’t wait for the pies to cool!

Over the years I have tried to make mince pies that taste as good as my Mum’s but somehow I’ve never quite managed it. The pastry has been too thick, too crumbly, not enough filling, too much filling, you name it and I’ve done it!

All this is now a thing of the past thanks to the easiest recipe alive. Simply follow this step by step recipe below and you too will have mince pies that taste like my Mums baked them, and Mary Berry has nothing on her!

Ingredients

  • 225g cold butter, diced
  • 350g plain flour
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 280g mincemeat
  • 1 small egg
  • icing sugar, to dust
  1. To make the pastry, rub cold, diced butter into plain flour, then mix in golden caster sugar and a pinch of salt. Combine the pastry into a ball – don’t add liquid – and knead it briefly. The dough will be fairly firm, like shortbread dough. You can use the dough immediately, or chill for later.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6/fan 180C. Line 18 holes of two 12-hole patty tins, by pressing small walnut-sized balls of pastry into each hole. Spoon the mincemeat into the pies.
  3. Take slightly smaller balls of pastry than before and pat them out between your hands to make round lids, big enough to cover the pies. Top the pies with their lids, pressing the edges gently together to seal – you don’t need to seal them with milk or egg as they will stick on their own. (The pies may now be frozen for up to 1 month).
  4. Beat 1 small egg and brush the tops of the pies. Bake for 20 minutes until golden. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack. To serve, lightly dust with icing sugar. They will keep for 3 to 4 days in an airtight container (unless you live in my house and then it’s a small Christmas miracle if they last until the morning!).

Now all you need to do is taste! Best served with a little cream whilst warm (not hot otherwise you will have the same memories I have!). Relax, pop on a Christmas movie, sit back and enjoy. Let the festive season begin x

Thank you to the BBC Good Food Guide for their unbelievable easy recipe!

How to make a Rhubarb Crumble taste of Summer!

crumble

I decided a couple of years ago to grow my own rhubarb not quite knowing how successful this would be!

I started collecting my juicy stalks at the beginning of May and they are still going strong, needless to say I have become a bit of a whiz at the ole crumble and thought I would share my recipe for you all to enjoy!

I’ve turned the traditional rhubarb crumble into a delicious summer dessert by introducing strawberries and ginger. Ginger is the perfect partner for the fruit as it adds a spice to the sweetness but you can replace this with cinnamon if you prefer. (I actually like both so have to do an eeny meeny miny mo each time I cook!).

I’ve also added oats to my topping to offer a healthier alternative to your traditional fruit crumble and give it an extra crunch. If you want to go one step further add 30g of chopped almonds too!

One of my pet hates is a soggy bottom and to stop this from happening I prefer to bake my fruit and topping separately and assemble just before serving, this ensures you will have the perfect crunch with every mouthful. It’s also a great way to store your excess fruit, simply bake your filing in bulk, freeze it in batches and when you fancy a pud simply defrost a portion, rustle up a fresh crumble topping, and voila! The perfect homemade crumble every time!

Ingredients for Crumble topping

  • 140g plain flour
  • 30g oatmeal
  • 30g jumbo oats
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g butter
  • 2tsp ground ginger

Ingredients for the filling

  • 50g strawberries
  • 2tsp ginger
  • 85g caster sugar
  • 100ml cold water
  • 9 sticks of juicy rhubarb

Method

  1. Preheat the oven 170°
  2. Add all of the topping ingredients (apart from oats) to a large mixing bowl and rub together using your fingertips, when the mixture resembles large breadcrumbs stir in the oats and transfer to a lined baking tray and bake for 15-20 mins until lightly golden.
  3. Whilst the topping is baking prepare the rhubarb by peeling away the skin and chop into 2cm chunks and place the rhubarb and strawberries in to a large ovenproof dish. Mix the sugar, ground ginger and water in a jug and pour over the fruit. Bake in the oven for approx 30 mins until fruit is soft.
  4. To serve, drain any excess juice away from the fruit, add the crumble topping and serve with custard, clotted cream or ice cream.
  5. Sit back & enjoy x

How to make the perfect Christmas cake!

christmas cake recipe

Have you ever contemplated making your very own Christmas cake but a little too scared of how it might turn out? Worry no more! I have the perfect recipe with the easiest method going!

Rumour has it that it is popular to make your Christmas pudding on Stir Up Sunday which is the last Sunday before Advent, (this is traditionally the start of the season and falls on 22nd November this year). So why not make your cake on this day too?

Traditionally, families would gather in the kitchen to mix their Christmas pudding on this day. Everyone would take a turn to stir the pudding mix and make a wish for the coming new year. By tradition the pudding mixture was stirred from East to West in honour of the three wise men who travelled from the East to visit baby Jesus.

What a great way to get the family into the Christmas spirit, have fun in the kitchen and produce your very own homemade extravaganza!

Now let’s get started!

Ingredients

  • 1kg mixed dried fruits (use a mix of raisins, sultanas, currants, cherries, cranberries, prunes or figs)
  • Zest and juice of 1 orange
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 150ml Brandy, Sherry, Whisky or Rum, (plus extra for feeding!)
  • 250g pack butter, softened
  • 200g light soft brown sugar
  • 175g plain flour
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 100g flaked almonds
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Method

  1. Put the dried fruit, zests and juice, alcohol, butter and sugar in a large pan set over a medium heat. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 5 mins. Tip the fruit mixture into a large bowl and leave to cool for 30 mins.
  2. Heat oven to 150C/130C fan/gas mark 2. Line a deep 20cm cake tin with a double layer of baking parchment, then wrap a double layer of newspaper around the outside – tie with string to secure.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients to the fruit mixture and stir well, making sure there are no pockets of flour. Tip into your prepared tin, level the top with a spatula and bake in the centre of the oven for 2 hrs.
  4. Remove the cake from the oven, poke holes in it with a skewer and spoon over 2 tbsp of your chosen alcohol. Leave the cake to cool completely in the tin.
  5. To store, peel off the baking parchment, then wrap well in cling film. Feed the cake with 1-2 tbsp alcohol every fortnight, until you ice it. Don’t feed the cake for the final week to give the surface a chance to dry before icing.
Recipe courtesy of Good Food magazine.

Are you ready for the Blackberry season?

Blackberry honey creams

It’s that time of year when the humble blackberry decorates our hedgerows and our spare time is filled with searching out brambles. Armed with Tupperware containers, baskets and a brolly (for holding back branches!) we will set out to fill our kitchens with enough blackberries to feed an army!

There is a fine art to blackberry picking, look for plump, dry & dark fruit that are not too firm nor too squishy. You need them to survive the journey home (minus a few tempting ones!), you also need them ready for storing.

The best way to store blackberries is to keep them dry and cool and eat within a day or two. Blackberries freeze extremely well, simply spread a single layer on a tray and freeze until solid then pop them into an air-tight bag, you can then defrost at room temperature to use for cooking or eat them frozen with a warm white chocolate sauce!

I always use my surplus blackberries to make Blackberry Honey Creams, they are absolutely delicious and so easy to make, follow my recipe below for a speedy dessert or a nutritious breakfast!

Ingredients

  • 500g Greek yogurt
  • 2-3 tbsp runny honey
  • 300g washed blackberries
  • blackberry coulis (bring to the boil 250g blackberries & 50g caster sugar, add teaspoon of vanilla extract, when fruit is soft leave to cool and then whizz to a puree in a blender, and sieve before serving).

Beat the yogurt with honey to taste. Divide half the berries between 4 glasses, drizzle with some coulis and spoon over yogurt. Top with the remaining berries and some coulis. Serve immediately with the rest of the coulis.

Blackberries are available from August through to October but do you remember the old wives tale? Don’t pick a blackberry after Michaelmas Day (October 11th) as it’s rumoured the devil will make them unfit to eat by stepping & spitting on them! There’s probably some truth in this as when the wetter and cooler weather arrives this often causes the fruit to become mouldy. Therefore you haven’t got long to enjoy the seasonal delights, but it’s a great time to try your hand at making jam, cooking & baking!

Enjoy x

We’re Jamming!

Our 100% Homemade Storage Jars are great for pickling and preserving, not only are they the perfect size they look stylish too! To get you started I have added my favourite Seedless Raspberry Jam recipe (courtesy of Good Food Magazine) below. Not only is this the perfect recipe for first time jammers it tastes super duper too!

Ingredients

  • 1kg raspberries
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1kg bag jam sugar (the one with pectin added)

Method

  1. Before you start, sterilise your jars and put a plate in the freezer to chill. Tip half the raspberries into a preserving pan and add the lemon juice. Mash the berries to a pulp over the heat with a potato masher, then leave to cook for 5 mins. Tip the cooked berries into a sieve over a bowl, then once all of the juice has drained off, firmly work the pulp through the sieve with a wooden spoon until you are left with just the seeds.
  2. Tip the juice and pulp back into the preserving pan and stir in the sugar. Heat gently, then add the remaining whole raspberries. Bring to the boil, then boil rapidly for 5 mins. Remove from the heat and drop a little jam onto the chilled plate. Now push your finger through itâ it should wrinkle and look like jam. If it doesn’t, boil for 2 mins, then test again.
  3. The top of the jam may look like it has sediment on it, but I find that if you stir it well as it cools, a little of this disappears. Pour into your 100% Homemade Jars and seal. It will keep unopened for a year, although the lovely bright colour will darken a little. Once open, keep in the fridge.