Blueberry autumn spice cake

When I made my blueberry curd last month, not only was it perfect for the October Tea Time Treats challenge of jams, curds and chutneys, but I also knew it would come in handy for the Best of British blogging challenge, which for October/November is all about Dorset.

Half of my family are from Dorset, and I went to uni in Bournemouth, so I know the area pretty well, but it was actually at a food festival in Plymouth where I discovered my favourite Dorset ingredient – blueberries!

The Trehane family (aka the Dorset Blueberry Company) have a blueberry farm¬†just outside of Ferndown, and as well as selling plants and fruit have a fantastic range of bakery products – I’ve sampled the shortbread, flapjack and lemon tart, and all are fabulous!

I should probably point out that I haven’t been paid to say all this, I really am just a fan! Although sadly the blueberries in this recipe aren’t from the Trehane farm, the recipe is definitely inspired by them.

As we’re well out of summer now, I gave a light sponge cake, studded with juicy blueberries, a bit of an Autumn twist, by adding a spoonful of pumpkin pie spice, which wasn’t overwhelming but complimented the fruit nicely.

The filling is a layer of my blueberry curd, and a layer of blueberry curd buttercream – I couldn’t resist cramming in as much blueberry as possible!

Blueberry autumn spice cake

  • 175g butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 175g self raising flour
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 100g blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • 6 tbsp blueberry curd
  • 50g butter
  • 75g icing sugar

To make the cake, cream the butter and sugar together then beat in the eggs, one at a time. Sift together the flour and pumpkin pie spice, then gently fold into the mixture with the blueberries. Divide the mixture between two 7″ sandwich tins, and bake at 170 degrees for about 25 minutes, or until risen and golden.

While the cakes are cooling, make the buttercream by beating the butter with the icing sugar, then stirring in half the blueberry curd. Spread a layer of buttercream on top of one cake, and a layer of blueberry curd on the underneath of the other, then sandwich together. Cut into slices and serve!

The Dorset themed best of British challenge, sponsored by New World Appliances, is being hosted by Karen of Lavender and Lovage. There’s a ¬£50 Amazon voucher up for grabs for one lucky entrant this month, but the deadline is tomorrow so you better be quick!

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Scottish Tablet

Once again I am cutting it rather fine, but I really love the idea of the Best of British blogging challenge, so I really wanted to make something for this month’s region – it’s just taken a while to find the time to do it!

Sponsored by New World Appliances and hosted this month by Janice at Farmersgirl Kitchen, the region is Scotland – a place I’ve only visited once, so a bit more of a challenge for me than Cornwall was!

I did quite a bit of research for traditional recipes, but in the end settled on a recipe from one of my newest cookbooks, Home Made Sweet Shop, for a traditional Scottish Tablet.

The book describes tablet as being a cross between fudge and toffee, with the same grainy texture as fudge but a bit harder.

It was supposed to be a plain vanilla tablet, but that phrase ‘gilding the lily’ was apparently made for me so I made a last minute decision to press some freshly picked raspberries into it and sprinkle desiccated coconut on top – which looks very pretty, but now means that I can’t give it as a gift as I was planning too because the raspberries won’t keep long enough – oops!

Luckily the pony is on a mission at the minute to put on weight (the total opposite to my life goal), so the 2,500+ calories in this will hopefully help him out a bit…

The other problem it caused was less easily fixed however; the lovely, fresh, juicy raspberries actually released their lovely juice into the tablet, stopping it from setting properly. So now I know, fresh fruit and tablet/fudge do not mix!

I halved the original recipe, and it was a good job I did as even with these quantities it nearly filled my largest saucepan when it was at its peak of bubbling – so be warned if you do make the full amount! The recipe below omits the fruit but if you really want to repeat my mistake, feel free to throw some in!

Scottish Tablet (adapted from Home Made Sweet Shop)

  • 450g caster sugar
  • 60g butter
  • 75ml full-fat milk
  • 75ml water
  • 130g condensed milk
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract

Put the sugar, butter, water and milk into a LARGE pan and heat gently, stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved. Increase the heat a little and bring to a boil – not stirring at all – until it reaches 114 degrees on a sugar thermometer. Remove from the heat, stir in the condensed milk, then return to the heat and boil again, until it reaches 116 degrees, then pour into a heatproof bowl and leave to cool for 5 minutes.

When cooled a little, whisk with an electric whisk for 2-3 minutes, until it lightens and thickens quite a bit. You can beat it with a wooden spoon, but I find the whisk method a lot quicker and more effective. Spread into a 9″ loaf tin, lined with baking paper (if you’re making double quantities, use an 8×8″ square tin).

Leave for 4-5 hours to set before removing from the tin and cutting into squares. Store in an airtight container.

Mushroom, cheese and potato pasties

First of all, let me be clear – these are NOT Cornish pasties.

Made in Cornwall, yes, but no true Cornishman would ever allow them to be known as a Cornish pasty, due to my complete disregard for the traditional contents.

They are however Cornish inspired, and are my entry for the Best of British Blogger Challenge, sponsored by New World Appliances and hosted this month by Choclette, who naturally chose the best county in England to kick off the challenge.

There is a fantastic range of local produce around at the minute, so there are any number of things I could have made using Cornish ingredients, but as pasties are what I would wager the majority of people think of when the words ‘Cornish’ and ‘food’ are mentioned, that was what I wanted to do.

Being a non-meat eater I obviously had to put my own spin on the traditional recipe, and while these are not in any way traditional, they are rather tasty and a worthy vegetarian offering.

The usual cheese and onion pasty fillings of potato, cheese and onion are given a bit of jazzing up by the combination of regular and sweet potatoes and the addition of mushrooms and fresh herbs.

I’m far from an expert when it comes to crimping pasties, but I’m actually quite proud of how these turned out – not quite bakery standard but maybe I’m on the way!

Mushroom, cheese and potato pasties

(makes 6 medium pasties)

For the pastry:

  • 200g butter, chilled in the freezer
  • 400g strong white flour
  • 1/2 beaten egg (keep the other half for glazing)
  • 50ml (ish) water

Take the block of butter out of the freezer, wrap foil around the end to hold it, and grate into the bowl of flour. Mix the butter in with a knife, then add the beaten egg and the water until it comes together as a dough – you may need a little more or less water so add it slowly. Chill in the fridge while you make the filling.

For the filling:

  • 1 medium potato
  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 onion
  • 250g mushrooms
  • 100g cheese (any would be ok, but for Cornish-ness I used Davidstow Cheddar)
  • Handful fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tbsp single cream

Peel and dice the potatoes into 1cm cubes, then spread out in a baking tray and sprinkle with the dried thyme. Bake at 180 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until almost cooked through. Meanwhile, finely chop the onion and slice the mushrooms, and fry over a medium heat until softened. Add to a bowl with the potatoes and leave to cool.

Chop the cheese into small cubes, then stir into the vegetables with the cream and fresh thyme leaves. You could use more dried herbs, but I have a crazy thyme plant that just won’t stop growing and needs to be used!

Take the pastry out of the fridge and divide into 6 equal pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll each out into a circle a little larger than a side plate, then use the plate to cut around for a perfect circle.

Add a dollop of the filling into the middle and spread out towards one side of the pastry, making sure to leave about an inch all the way around the edge.

Brush the edges with the remaining egg, and fold the pastry over to seal the sides around the filling.

To crimp the pasties, start with the flat edge towards you, then fold over the right hand corner of the edge to begin. Fold the edge over in a sort of rolling motion, working your way around from right to left until you get to the other side.

Transfer to a baking sheet, brush all over with the egg and add a few steam holes on top. Bake at 180 degrees for about 40 minutes, or until golden, crisp and piping hot. Serve hot or cold – they’re also great for the pony to take to work and heat up for lunch!