Well, we finally have cool mornings and darker nights again. But that summer was great! It’s given us an abundance of apples which we are using up in apple pies and crumbles and cakes both brambley and appley 🙂
We’ve been discussing Christmas this week and how sad it is that so many people end up feeling overstretched in various ways – financial, physical, emotional – come January. It doesn’t have to be that way! Some years ago one of us wrote an article on having the Christmas you want here.
So simple. So delicious. Very like little Nakd bars. Made on a day when there were no treats, no chocolate, and only really boring biscuits left in the house. There was an old, but still in date, bag of currants in the cupboard and some almonds… so here we go!
100g currants (raisins would be great too)
100g of almonds (substitute any nut you want)
1 teaspoon of cocoa powder (not actually raw, you could use the more expensive cacao if you prefer)
Food process or blend these ingredients up till they make a soft dough. If using a blender you may have to stop the machine to squash down/stir a bit now and again.
Squeeze the dough into little shapes and eat. You could press them into chocolate moulds or form them into bars to give them a more beautiful appearance. We didn’t do that and they did ever so slightly resemble those novelty Christmas chocolates that get marketed as Reindeer Droppings!
Totally scrumptious though. Totally.
Ailish Sinclair‘s debut novel, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR, set in a fictional castle in Aberdeenshire, and featuring the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, is out Autumn 2019. On Amazon and Waterstones or see Author website for more details.
Underground, overground, brambling free! The brambles of Wimbledon Common are we…
I don’t know if Wimbledon Common is a good source of brambles (blackberries) but many hedgerows are this time of year, and that means: fruity purple cakes. With chocolate chips. Just because.
Bramble Chocolate Chip Cakes
300g Doves Farm Gluten free Self Raising flour
100g caster sugar
a couple of handfuls of freshly picked brambles
about a third of a cup of soya milk
about a third of a cup of sunflower oil
100g of chocolate chips (we used Moo Free)
water to mix to a good thick batter – though you don’t want it too runny
Mix the flour, chocolate chips and sugar together (keep some chips back for sprinkling on top). Blend up the brambles with the soya milk and mix this in along with the oil, adding some water if the batter is too thick. It should be purple!
Divide between 12 cake or muffin cases. Place in a muffin tin if using paper ones; silicone reusable cases are better in many ways, not least of which is that the cakes will not stick to them like glue as gluten-free mixes are prone to do. Top with the remaining chips. Bake at 200C/400F for 15 to 20 minutes until well risen and browning. And slightly purpling!
This recipe contains no gluten and no refined sugar, but is sweet and even sort of juicy! It fitted a seven inch round cake tin.
200g Doves Farm Gluten Free Self Raising Flour
2 apples, peeled and chopped into small chunks
2 bananas, mashed
1 cupful of raisins
half a cupful of sunflower oil
soya milk, or other milk of your choice to mix, about a cup and a half
Place the flour in a mixing bowl and make a well in the middle. Pour in your oil and some of the soya milk. Add the mashed banana and the apples and raisins and mix, mix, mix, with a wooden spoon, adding milk as you go for a good consistency (thick but not dry, pourable but not runny). Pour into a greased cake tin and bake at 200C/400F for about half an hour or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool and enjoy!
The juiciness of the fruit means this gluten free cake does not dry out like some and is good for two or three days. Best kept in the fridge.
Fruit crumble is a wonderfully frugal dish. You can use virtually any fruit (perhaps not banana!) and it’s a good way to use up items that might be passing their best. Summer brings luscious pink rhubarb, perfect for crumble. Autumn delivers apples and blackberries/brambles, also delicious. Here is a basic recipe for a combination of rhubarb and apples, adjust as you require:
2 or 3 apples, peeled and chopped (if you use eating apples you could reduce the sugar slightly)
4 or 5 sticks of rhubarb, chopped into chunks
4 tablespoons of sugar
Surprisingly, rose petals combine with rhubarb to give a beautiful flavour.
100g. flour (for a gluten-free version use Doves Farm gluten-free flour)
75g. vegetable margarine
optional additions: grated lemon rind, sunflower seeds, rolled oats.
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Place the fruit in an ovenproof dish and top with the sugar. For the topping: rub the flour into the margarine until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Mix in the sugar and any other additions and place evenly over the filling. Bake in the pre-heated oven for about half an hour or until everything is bubbling: crispy on top, soft below. Lovely with custard or ice cream.
If you like this, you may also like our recipe for Apple Pie
2 cups of porridge oats
1 large tablespoon of vegetable margarine
1 banana, mashed
a handful of raisins
a splash of unsweetened soya milk
Melt the marg in a pan and then stir in the oats. Mix in the banana and raisins, add the soya milk and stir well. Press the mixture into a flat cake tin or oven proof dish (10×10 inch did well) and bake for 10-15 minutes in a hot oven. Score while still warm, leave to cool and cut into squares.
If you would rather have a more traditional sugar laden flapjack, add a tablespoon of golden syrup to the mix, but really, they’re delicious without it!
Chocolate variant: add two heaped teaspoons (or more!) of cocoa in with the banana and raisins 🙂
Recipe inspired by Lucy who always adds banana to her flapjacks 🙂
Especially frugal if you should happen to have apple trees in your garden, but thrifty even if you have to buy them. These quantities make two pies – one for eating now and one for freezing – adjust quantities for your own needs.
600g/18oz/2 and a quarter cups of plain flour
300g/9oz. vegetable margarine
about half a cup of cold water
200/g/6oz/1 cup sugar
about ten medium sized cooking apples (Brambley are good) – peeled and sliced
Preheat oven to 190C/380F degrees. Grease 2 pie dishes (9 inch rounds do well but any shape will do). For the pastry: rub the margarine into flour until you have a breadcrumb like consistency. Add the cold water and mix to a dough (by hand is best) – add gradually as flours do vary and you may need slightly more or slightly less water than stated. Divide your dough into four (two bases and two tops) and roll out the two bases (on a floured board or surface) and place in the pie dishes. Place the apple slices into them, cover with the sugar and roll out tops – place on top and seal with water. Cut an X in the centre of each pie and sprinkle with a little sugar. Bake in oven for about half an hour or until pastry is cooked and apple/sugar mixture is bubbling (peek into the X!). Delicious hot with ice cream or cold on its own.
kid tip: if you have some left over pastry let your kids (or yourself!) make some little pies of their own – pastry shapes topped with jam, chocolate, sweets or marmite go down well especially if made by one’s own fair hand!! They take about 10-15 minutes to cook, being much smaller.
variations: this basic piecrust can be filled with anything you like – blackcurrant and apple is good in the summer, brambles/blackberries grow wild in the woods in autumn and can be used in place of apples, as can rhubarb. The same pastry can be used for savoury pies too – try mince or a grated carrot, cabbage and onion filling is tasty with gravy. Mixed roasted vegetable with herbs – let your imagination go (or use up the left-overs in your fridge!)
An alternative, sugar free version has been sent to us by Peter: 1 apple pie flan = 9oz Tescos value eating apples, 90g dried stoned dates, 125g raisins, 12oz wholewheat flour, (as so cheap, could afford to use own brand organic wholewheat flour), 12oz flour, 6oz Tesco Pure soya margerine. Half pint water. Mix up flour and marg, rest/chill in fridge for 30 minutes. Bring the half pint to boil, turn down to simmer, add the dates, stir around, break up with a fork. (If doing more than one flan filling to put in freezer, don’t do loads of water, the reason of the water is to break up the dates). Chop up apples in processor, add apples and raisins to dates, mix all up, that is filling done. Get a standard flan case, (I use the one that bottom comes off, easy to remove flan). Smear the flan case with marge. Weigh out the dough, rollout 2 thirds of the dough, pop in flan case, tip- roll rolling pin around edge to remove excess over edge, pop the filling in. Wet inside edge of flan with water, rollout other third of dough. Place on top, pinch around edge with thumbs. I use a teaspoon handle to make a little hole in center of top of flan. Pop into the middle shelf of a preheated oven at 180 degrees C. Take out after 30 minutes and you have one lovely flan, very filling.
Making your own sweets is actually quite fun – children have a great time with this too. They are also nice gifts if placed in petit four cases in a pretty box or packet. You can intersperse bought sweets such as sugared almonds between for more variety.
Any or all of the following:
Nuts of your choice (hazel, walnut, pecan, almond, brazil)
It’s very simple! Melt the chocolate and then dip things in it – nuts, marzipan balls, dates – and then place them on a sheet of grease-proof paper to set. Decorate with angelica, glace cherries (can be made to look like holly) and flaked almonds before the chocolate sets and then you can sprinkle with cocoa, coconut or icing sugar.
Dates can be destoned and stuffed with marzipan for a non-chocolate treat.
Place in petit four cases and enjoy!
Chocolate Rum Truffles
Some left over cake, crumbled – about 2 cups
2 tablespoons of Apricot jam
2 tablespoons of rum (or rum flavouring)
1 teaspoon of cocoa
50g./2oz (half a large bar) of plain chocolate, melted
Coating of choice – cocoa, chopped nuts, coconut etc.
Mix everything together and then squeeze into balls (about 5 cm. diameter) and roll in the coating. Place in petit four cases.
Little Chocolate logs
1 chocolate cake prepared in a large square tin so it will not be too deep (see our recipe)
icing sugar for dusting
glace cherries and crystallised angelica for decoration or children might prefer chocolate beans or other sweets (pictured logs have pecan nut topping).
Cut the cake into small rectangles ( 10 cm. X 4 cm. and 2 or 3 cm. deep). Cut thin pieces of marzipan and place on top of the cakes. Pour melted chocolate over the top of each log, decorate to your hearts content and then dust with the icing sugar (snow!).