Sunday 4 September 2011

Autumn Feast

It is blackberry time again and there is nothing I love more during the school holidays than entertaining and feeding my kids for free.  Remember to cover their legs, so as to avoid the brambles and stinging nettles and relax for a while in the sunshine with a book, whilst they fill their buckets.  Wait a minute! That is not entirely accurate.  Don't  you get so sick of reading about perfect people, with their perfect kids in their perfect worIds'.  Especially cookery programs or cooking magazine articles.  It all looks so damn perfect!

So let me tell the truth.  I actually relaxed for about four and a half seconds before Amelie fell over, Daniel couldn't see, because he had sun in his eyes, Amelie needed the toilet, Daniel dropped all the blackberries he had picked in the middle of the stinging nettles and then it started raining.  Again! I don't think I read one page.

Another, probably more successful outing is pick-your-own.  We go to the massively commercial Garsons Farm in Esher, which is vast but amazing well organised and the selection of produce is awesome.  They also have a fantastic garden centre, playground and farm shop, so it really is a day out.  Unlike other outings with massive entrance fees, you only pay for what you pick, so at least you have something to show for your money at the end of the day.  But don't think that you are economising by self-harvesting.  The same fruit and vegetables in the farm shop are only fractionally more expensive.  Still, the kids love it and I think it is so good for them to be outside, close to nature and really understanding where their food comes from. And if the weather is good, it really is a beautiful setting.  We had been earlier in the year, firstly picking asparagus and then, a little later we had gorged ourselves on strawberries, gooseberries and peas.  This time it was sweetcorn, plums and apples. I love loosing myself amongst the trees, laden with gorgeous fruit.  I like to imagine myself in my private orchard of my stately home. 

That is until I am once more interrupted from my day dreaming with "Amelie thinks she has more apples than me and she doesn't!",  "Daniel hit me!", "Amelie bit me!", I need the toilet!", "Amelie has fallen over!" and then it starts raining.  Again!  So back home for a spot of baking. 

I have in mind an Autumnal Muffin, full of blackberries, apples and nuts, a hint of cinnamon and a crunchy crumble topping.  And, they were undoubtedly the most successful thing I have ever made with the kids.  The apple kept the muffins really moist and the blackberries just melted to jam. Kept the kids quite, for all of half and hour.  And I only had a few hours clearing up afterwards.

Now I just have to think of something to use up all those plums?

Blackberry, Apple and Pecan Crumble Muffins

1/2 cup butter, soft
1 1/4 cups unrefined caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 3/4 cups plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup milk
2 cups peeled, cored and chopped apples

1 cup blackberries
1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped


1/2 cup unrefined caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
 8 tablespoons plain flour
 4 tablespoons cold butter, cubed

1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Line your muffin pans with muffin papers. 

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at time. Mix together the of flour, baking powder, and cinnamon. Stir in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, mixing just until incorporated. Fold in apples, blackcurrants and pecans. Scoop into muffin cups to fill 3/4 full. Lightly sprinkle the tops with cinnamon crumble.

To make Cinnamon Crumble: In a small bowl, combine the sugar,cinnamon, flour and butter. Mix together using a mixer or your fingers.  Do not over-work.  You want to reach the breadcrumb stange, add the nuts and them continue until the mixture begins to clump.  Then stop.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until tops are golden brown, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. If they are browning too quickly, cover with tin foil. Remove from pans, and cool on wire rack.

1 comment:

  1. Wow this looks tasty, I love the idea of the crumble on top and its an Autumnal recipe :)


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