Every year around this time we are given a bucketful of homegrown apples from the neighbour of Justin’s parents. Because they’re generally tiny and malformed I’ve usually turned them into apple cheese (no peeling, no coring).
There were about half a dozen biggish ones this year, so I combined them with some of the remaining bramble offerings that I had stored in the freezer and made an apple & blackberry pie. I may have confessed in some previous post that I’m not the greatest pastry maker – but I was going to give it another go!
Cakes & Bakes: Apple & blackberry pie
- For the pastry
- 350g/12oz plain flour
- 80g/3oz butter or margarine, cubed
- pinch of salt
- 4-5tbs cold water
- For the filling
- 450g/1lb apples (about 4 medium-sized apples)
- 225g/½lb blackberries
- 100g/3½oz granulated sugar
- For the glaze
- 3tbs milk
- 25g/1oz caster sugar
- Start by making the pastry. Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl, holding the sieve up as high as possible to give the flour an airing
- Add the cubed butter/margarine to the flour
- Using your fingertips, lightly & gently rub the pieces of fat into the flour, lifting your hands up high as you do this (again, to incorporate as much air as you can) and being as quick as possible
- When the mixture looks uniformly crumbly, start to sprinkle roughly 4 tablespoons of cold water all over
- Use a pastry blender or round-bladed knife to start the mixing
- Carefully add more water as needed, a little at a time, then finally bring the mixture together with your hands to form a smooth ball of dough that will leave the bowl clean (if there are any bits won't adhere to it, you need a spot more water)
- Divide the ball of dough in half and make 2 smaller balls
- Put the balls into a zip-lock bag or wrap in cling film or foil and put them in the fridge for half an hour while you prepare the filling
- At this point, preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas mark 6
- Wash & drain the blackberries and peel & slice the apples into 1cm chunks. Mix them together and set aside until the pastry is ready to come out of the fridge
- Lightly grease a pie/flan dish (I save my butter wrappers for just this job!)
- Take one of the balls of pastry from the fridge and roll it out so that it's about 4cm/2 inches wider than the pie dish
- Carefully lift the rolled out pastry onto the pie dish using your rolling pin. Press the pastry down gently into the pie and up the sides
- Spoon the apples & blackberries onto the pastry and sprinkle the granulated sugar on top
- Take out the other ball of pastry from the fridge and roll it out so that it is large enough to form a lid on the pie
- Using a pastry brush, dampen the edge of the bottom pastry case with water
- Fix the pastry lid into position pressing it very firmly all round
- Trim the edges with a knife
- You can use these trimmings to make shapes to decorate the top of the pie - just affix them with a little brushing of water
- Brush the top of the pie with a little milk then sprinkle on a dusting of caster sugar which will give a crisp surface when the pie is baked
- Make a small hole in the centre of the pie for steam to escape
- Put the pie on to a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes
- Allow to cool a little on a wire rack, slice and serve
- Serve with a little cream, vanilla ice cream or just on its own - although I think it's gorgeous with a dollop of clotted cream!
There’s been a bumper crop of big, juicy wild blackberries this summer. We had a 2-hour long session of picking last Sunday and returned home with around 3 kilos of fruit – not counting the half kilo that Fudge picked & ate on the spot. We were sure he was going to make himself sick!
We planted a few fruit bushes in our garden this spring – one each of blackcurrant, redcurrant, whitecurrant and raspberry.
They looked like beautiful little jewels drooping from the branches.
Our garden hauls weren’t great, but we put everything in the freezer with the view to using them later in the year.
We added them to the wild berries gathered on our dog walks and ended up with an interesting mix of berries.
I’d already made some wild raspberry jelly last month which was absolutely delicious – especially spread between sponge cake layers. Justin requested a mixed berry jelly rather than jam – neither of us care to get seeds stuck in our teeth! We got 6 nice jars of jelly which is enough to last the winter. We’ll gift a couple of jars and still have plenty left for cake making, fruit sauces, toast etc…
…and probably our favourite way to eat it – a lazy weekend breakfast with newspapers, strong coffee and fresh croissants!
Image credits: blueberries, quince, damsons
Spring is coming, spring is coming!
That means that we’ll be able to get back to using our garden again. It’s looking really sorry for itself at the moment – neglected, frost-shattered terracotta pots
Much as I love pretty, jaunty annuals, I never feel like they’re value for money. I prefer having bulbs – they bring pleasure year after year and once they’ve been planted, the majority of them just get on with it.
Recently, I’ve been thinking about investing a bit more and getting a few fruit trees. Top of my list are damsons, quinces and blueberries. I make jams & jellies so fruit from my own garden will make it all that more “home-made”.
Bluberries really suit where we live – they love acid soil and you can grow them in pots (the majority of our garden is cobbled stone setts). Damsons are famous for growing well “up north” – apparently they like a bit of damp – they’ll feel right at home with us then! I’ve wanted my own quince tree ever since I made a batch of jelly from a big bag of quinces given to me by a friend of Granny Glittens. They’re not the kind of fruit you tend to find to readily in shops or markets and the jelly is fragrant, delicious and a beautiful amber colour.
I think I’d like to turn our little plot into a micro orchard!
photo credit: deboraaplante100
Our colour picker doesn’t do justice to the kaleidoscope of hues in this awe-inspiring photograph. We’ve never seen a bunch of grapes like it – it’s beautiful! The original image has tagged it as being of the Montepulciano variety which is made into Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine.
This year we decided to grow more of our own – and we’ve got no excuse, as Todmorden‘s the home of Incredible Edible.
We have a variety of crops to look forward to in the coming weeks.
Most of them are growing in containers as much of our garden is paved with stone cobbles. It also makes protecting them from the ubiquitous slugs & snails much easier.
We use lots of the old galvanised metal ‘dolly tubs’, buckets and bins.
The plants seem to like it!
Potatoes, beetroot, carrots, tomatoes, rhubarb, strawberries, broccoli, courgettes, squash, peashoots, salad leaves, a variety of herbs – and yes, those are figs.
There’s still a little room for some flowers.
Perennials like the hostas, astilbes and lupins return each year like old friends. Although this year’s harsh winter saw a few losses.
To these we add a few annuals – osteospermums, lobelia and the like.
We’ve enjoyed working in the garden this year. We don’t think self-sufficiency is here just yet – but hopefully we’ll reap some rewards!
Where were we with our nature-influenced design blogs? We’ve been slightly sidetracked with the opening of our new shop.
Details of a vintage 1960s/70s calorific value tea towel
We’ve previously looked at fish, birds, flowers and leaves – today it’s the turn of fruit & vegetables.
‘Eden’ design by Meakin & Figgjo Flint butter dish
1950s strawberry bowl
They’ve been used as inspiration in artwork, illustration, decorative objects and unsurprisingly kitchen and dining wares.
Hornsea Pottery & Goebel Pottery
Pair of Arabia preserve pots
Apples have always proved a very popular decorative subject, particularly strong during the 1960s & 70s it seems.
We love this glass apple designed by Ingeborg Lundin for Orrefors in 1955
Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples: for I am sick of love – Song of Solomon, 2:5, King James bible.
Cookbook illustrations from the 1950s are a firm favourite of ours.
And obviously you’ll need something to put all this fruit & veg in!!
These are two nice recent finds – a 1960s globe cane fruit basket and a 1950s Rye Pottery fruit dish.