Hurray, Autumn is upon us again! As corny as it sounds, is there anything more heart-warmingly lovely than taking a quiet pink-cheeked walk in the September/October sunshine amidst a crisp breeze while taking in all the gorgeously coloured leaves, fallen apples and shiny conkers underfoot? It’s at this time of year that I’m glad I can walk to work, and recently I haven’t been able to resist stopping to take photos on the way as my scenic route looks particularly stunning of an autumnal morning.
Most importantly, Autumn marks the arrival of one of my favourite things – scrumping season! My mum and I did our usual ritual of venturing out to the nearby fields on the first Saturday in September and came back with a glorious bounty of apples, blackberries and plums. The majority of the berries and some of the apples were used to make vast quantities of my beloved blackberry, apple & cinnamon jam, but it wouldn’t be right to not keep a few aside for some baking.
The scrumped apples have made a delicious addition to various recipes that I’ve tried, including Waitrose’s spiced apple & walnut blondies and my go-to Weetabix loaf. However, I think my favourite 2016 Autumn apple creation has to be these toffee apple flapjacks. They’re squidgy, sweet and sharp, and remind me of a cross between a flapjack and a crumble – perfect for a chilly evening. They’re also yummy served warm with custard.
For another wonderfully autumnal treat where apples are the star, why not check out my Autumn Bliss cake?
INGREDIENTS – makes 15 flapjacks
- 130g/4.5 oz butter or margarine
- 170g/6 oz brown sugar
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- 255g/9 oz oats
- 2 eating apples, peeled, cored and chopped into chunks about the size of a 10p piece
- 60g/2 oz mini toffee/fudge pieces (I used Aldi’s mini salted caramel fudge pieces), or larger toffees/fudges chopped into small pieces
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (or 160 fan) and line a rectangular baking tray with parchment paper.
- Put the butter/margarine, sugar and maple syrup in a heatproof bowl and melt together in the microwave in blasts of 1 minute until smooth, stirring at each interval. Alternatively, melt together in a pan on the hob over a low heat, stirring regularly.
- Stir the oats, apple chunks, toffee/fudge pieces and cinnamon into the liquid mixture until thoroughly coated.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared baking tray and place in the oven for around 15-20 minutes, or until slightly golden at the sides.
- Leave the flapjacks to cool on a wire rack and then slice into squares with a sharp knife.
Categories: flapjacks, Traybakes
Tags: 2016, apple, autumn, baking, cinnamon, cooking, fall, flapjacks, foraging, homemade, maple syrup, oats, recipe, scrumping, spice, toffee, traybake, uk, winter
Autumn is here! Season of mist and mellow fruitfulness! I absolutely love this time of year: beautiful golden falling leaves, Halloween, fireworks, mulled cider, comforting soups and hot chocolate, warm spicy scents and a crisp chill in the morning air. The nights draw in and the cloying, sticky summer heat becomes a fading memory.
One of my favourite things to do at this time of year is to go scrumping in the fields near my house. As I mentioned in my previous post, I got a fantastic haul of blackberries this year which have been incorporated into endless culinary creations, but, for me, nothing says autumn quite like fallen apples fresh from the branch. I’ve used the ones I’ve collected for various bakes and desserts but this cake is by far my favourite. I think it’s a true celebration of the season, with the slightly sour apples marrying gorgeously with the sweetness of another autumnal kitchen staple, cinnamon, and topped off with some lovely golden brown walnuts and pecans.
Although there are a few steps to it, this recipe is very simple and the result is stunning. You could use bought jam in place of the spiced apple filling I made here to save time but making it yourself is so easy and really does taste like Autumn Bliss! Why not make up some extra and put it into jars to have as a tasty treat on your toast? Cinnamon granola would also work well on top of the cake if you don’t have any cinnamon biscuits.
INGREDIENTS – makes 2 sponge layers of 8in/20cm diameter
For the cake:
- 225g/8 oz self-raising flour
- 115g/4 oz brown sugar
- 90g/3 oz caster/granulated sugar
- 225g/8 oz butter/margarine
- 4 eggs
- 3 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the filling/topping:
- 4-5 (approx.) green apples, e.g. Granny Smith (or scrumped ones!)
- 4 tbsp demerara/brown sugar
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 100ml/3 fl oz apple juice (or apple cider if you want to add a boozy twist!)
- 50ml/1.5 fl oz water
- 5-7 (approx.) cinnamon biscuits
- Handful of walnuts
- Handful of pecans
- Edible gold shimmer spray (optional but looks fab)
For the cake:
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (or 160 fan) and line two round baking tins with parchment paper.
- Whisk the butter/margarine and sugars together in a large mixing bowl until pale, then whisk in the eggs.
- Fold in the flour, cinnamon and vanilla extract until a batter of a soft dropping consistency has formed.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tins, then pop in the oven and bake for around 15-20 minutes until a cocktail stick inserted into the sponges comes out clean.
- When baked, transfer the cakes (still in the tins – don’t remove them until they’re cool!) onto a wire rack and get started on the jammy apple filling…
For the filling/topping:
- Peel and core the apples (and remove any brown, manky looking bits if you’re using scrumped ones), then chop them into small chunks no bigger than a 50p piece.
- Place the chunks in a large pan along with the water, apple juice, lemon juice, sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon and mixed spice and bring to the boil.
- Turn the heat down a little and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the apple pieces can be easily squished with a wooden spoon. If the mixture is too tart, add a bit more sugar to taste.
- Bring to the boil a second time, then turn down the heat as before and allow to simmer for a further 5-10 minutes, again stirring occasionally.
- Turn off the heat completely and allow to cool.
- Scoop out about two thirds of the mixture along with all of the visible apple chunks and spread it onto the top of one of the cooled sponges with a palette knife, then sandwich the second sponge on top. Scrape out the remaining smooth apple mixture and spread it onto the top layer.
- Crush the cinnamon biscuits with your hands until they resemble breadcrumbs, then sprinkle over the top of the cake. Add the nuts and finish off with a few spritzes of edible gold shimmer spray for a truly autumnal effect. Ta-dah!
Categories: Layer Cakes
Tags: 2015, apple, autumn, cake, cider, cinnamon, crumble, fall, foraging, gold, homemade, jam, nuts, recipe, scrumping, spice, sponge
I was given Trine Hahnemann’s beautiful book, Scandinavian Baking, for Christmas last year and have been meaning to have a go at some of the recipes from it for a while. I have a soft spot for all things Scandi (Norway and Iceland are top of my bucket list of places to visit!) and love the sound of a lot of their traditional bakes, both sweet and savoury. I have to admit that I have made an alteration to this recipe and substituted the original lingonberries after ending up with a fabulous haul of blackberries following a productive foraging session in the fields near my house. Scrumping is one of my favourite things to do when autumn arrives so I thought it fitting to use the fruits of my labour and add a British twist 🙂 The berries’ tartness and the sweet, nutty marzipan are a match made in heaven.
I tend to stick with cakes or biscuits when baking so these lovely simple tarts were a perfect way to try something a bit different. I’d never made my own pastry before but it was so easy I’ll definitely be doing it again! This bake would also work wonderfully as one large tart for sharing, or with other kinds of sharp fruit. Trine’s recipe said to use individual fluted tins but a standard muffin tray works fine.
I topped my tarts with a few flaked almonds as a final flourish.
INGREDIENTS – makes 16 tarts
For the pastry:
- 170g plain flour
- 60g icing sugar
- 115g butter, chilled
- Half an egg, lightly beaten
- Pinch of salt
For the filling:
- 300g marzipan
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 100g butter, softened
- 150g lingonberries (or blackberries)
- Sift the flour, icing sugar and salt into a bowl and rub in the butter with your fingers until the mixture resembles crumbs.
- Add the egg and stir until the pastry comes together in a ball.
- Wrap in clingfilm and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C and grease 16 mini fluted cake tins or 2 muffin trays with butter.
- Roll the chilled dough out on a floured surface until 5-8mm thick then cut out rounds with a 9cm cookie cutter.
- Place the rounds in the prepared tins or muffin tray and grate the marzipan.
- Mix the grated marzipan, eggs and butter into a smooth paste and use to fill the pastry cases, then add the berries (about 3-4 per tart if you’re using blackberries).
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until the bottoms of the pastry cases are slightly brown then remove from the tins and leave to cool on a wire rack.
Categories: Other Treats
Tags: 2015, autumn, baking, berries, blackberries, cookbook, foraging, homemade, lingonberries, marzipan, pastry, pies, scandinavian, scrumping, tarts, trine hahnemann