Apple and blackberry crumble pie

I am fully in Autumn/Winter baking mode now, and as far as I’m concerned nothing signifies the end of summer and start of autumn more than blackberries.

This pie is adapted from a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe for the Guardian, which was about pairing the last of the summer’s produce with the start of the autumn’s, and used raspberries with the apples. He must be living in some strange micro-climate as raspberries were long gone around here when it was published!

Luckily the blackberries were still ripe for picking, and are a classic partner for apple. I pretty much followed the recipe to the letter, but I found Hugh’s quantities for both the pastry and the crumble were far too much, you could probably make 3/4 of the pastry and 2/3 of the crumble and still have some to spare.

Although I made this mainly for the pony to have for breakfast, I think it’s a perfect dessert for chilly evenings, served hot with a big dollop of custard. Which is probably why winter makes me fat…

Apple and blackberry crumble pie (adapted from The Guardian)

For the pastry:

  • 200g plain flour
  • 35g icing sugar
  • 125g butter, cubed
  • 1 large egg yolk

For the filling:

  • 6 medium apples (about 750g), peeled and cored
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 225g raspberries

For the crumble:

  • 100g plain flour
  • 75g butter
  • 50g light brown sugar
  • 50g rolled oats

To make the pastry, stir together the flour and icing sugar the rub in the butter with your fingertips, until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk, cutting through the mixture with a butter knife, then add a little cold water, a tiny bit at a time, until the mixture starts to come together and can be pressed into a dough. Wrap the ball of dough in cling film and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes, then roll out and use to line a 10″ flan tin. Bake blind for 10 minutes at 180 degrees, then remove baking beans and paper and bake for another 10 minutes, or until golden and crisp.

For the filling, quarter and slice the apples, then heat in a heavy based saucepan for about 5 minutes, or until starting to soften. Hugh FW uses butter for this, but I don’t think it’s necessary. Add the brown sugar and leave on the heat just until the apples are starting to caramelise, then transfer into the baked pie case. Scatter the blackberries on top.

For the crumble, rub the butter into the flour then stir in the sugar and oats. Sprinkle the mixture on top of the fruit, clumping some of it together a bit, then return the pie to the oven for about 30 minutes, or until the crumble is golden and the fruit juices are bubbling. Remove from the tin and serve while warm.


Mini blackberry cheesecakes

This weekend was we had a neighbourhood barbecue, where my main responsibility was to lay on a good spread of cake.

Last year I made five different cakes, all of which went down well, so expectations were high. As we were away on a camping trip last week I didn’t have much time to prepare, so I had to make a fairly speedy shortlist of cakes, to try and cover off enough different tastes that there would be something for everyone.

Annoyingly I didn’t get any photos of the whole spread, so I’ll just have to blog them one by one, starting with these – mini blackberry cheesecakes.

The blackberry season isn’t really in full swing here yet, but there were enough on the bushes within a 5 minute walk of my house to whip up these dead simple individual cheesecakes.

There’s something about the deep purple of cooked blackberries that I just can’t resist, and I can’t think of a better base for them than a baked cheesecake. These mini cheesecakes are brilliant because they’re so much quicker to make than a normal cheesecake and it makes the recipe easier to scale up or down depending on how many you need.

This is definitely not going to be the last time you see mini cheesecakes here – I’m already thinking about making another batch with the last of the summer peaches, and then move on to apples, pears and other autumn flavours…

Mini blackberry cheesecakes (recipe adapted from All Recipes)

Makes 8

  • 65g hobnobs
  • 15g butter, melted
  • 200g cream cheese
  • 65g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 150g blackberries
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp flour

Blitz the hobnobs in a food processor until they form fine crumbs, then pour in the melted butter while the mixer is running. Spoon the crumbs into 8 cupcake cases and press down with the back of a spoon, then bake at 180 degrees for 10 minutes.

While the bases are baking, beat the cream cheese, sugar, egg, vanilla and lemon zest and juice together until smooth and creamy. Once the based are done, pour the cheesecake mixture on top and bake for another 30-40 minutes, until firm and turning golden around the edges. Leave to cool.

For the topping, heat 100g of the blackberries with 1 tbsp sugar, 1tbsp water and 1 tbsp flour, stirring until the berries break down and the liquid thickens. Spread on top of the cheesecakes. Heat the remaining 50g of blackberries with the second tbsp of sugar, but stop before the berries turn into mush, and spoon the still whole berries on top of the jammy layer. Leave in the fridge to set, then remove from the cupcake cases and serve.

Still to come from my barbecue cake spread are chocolate orange fudge cake, lime drizzle cake, millionaire’s shortbread and strawberries and cream bars – pictured above with the blackberry cheesecakes. Keep an eye out for them appearing here soon!

Coconut, blackberry and raspberry crown cupcakes

These crown cupcakes are the first of my two ‘fit for a queen‘ competition entries (which won me third place, in case I hadn’t mentioned!)

They’re kind of a royal-ed up version of my coconut and strawberry cupcakes, based on the same sponge recipe but with a raspberry curd filling and blackberry and raspberry cream cheese icing, and of course the golden crowns on top.

I think the corgi tarts seemed more popular at the competition, but I actually preferred these as I’m all about the fruit in the summer, and I love the coconut and berry combination.

I’m also especially proud of these because I seem to finally be getting the hang of piping icing onto cupcakes in a bit of a fancy pattern!

I won’t lie, these are pretty time consuming and do use some slightly hard to find ingredients, but I think they are well worth the effort for a special occasion!

Coconut, blackberry and raspberry crown cupcakes (based on this recipe):

Makes 9 cupcakes

  • 30g desiccated coconut
  • 105g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 85g butter
  • 135g caster sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 90ml coconut milk

For the filling, icing and decoration

  • 2 tbsp raspberry curd (recipe here)
  • 200g cream cheese
  • 100g butter
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 10g freeze-dried blackberries
  • 10g freeze-dried raspberries
  • 30g white candy melts
  • edible gold paint

To make the cupcakes, follow the method here (the ingredients listed above are half the quantities of the original recipe but that’s the only difference).

To fill the cupcakes, use an apple corer to make holes in the centre of each, then spoon in a little raspberry curd before replacing the bits of sponge you removed.

To make the icing, grind the freeze-dried berries in a food processor into dust, then add to the icing sugar. I had to order them in at a local health food shop, so if you can’t find any I think fresh berries would probably work too, but I really wanted to use freeze-dried for the amazing colour and also so they wouldn’t affect the consistency of the icing.

Beat the butter to soften, then add in half the cream cheese and sift in the icing sugar and berries. Beat until well mixed and no lumps remain, then add in the second half of the cream cheese and quickly beat again, just enough to combine everything. Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes, then pipe on top of the cupcakes – I used a Wilton star nozzle but any would be fine.

To make the crowns, I used an ingredient that’s completely new to me, but that may be down to a sheltered life – candy melts.

They’re essentially like chocolate buttons, except they set harder and don’t require any tempering – perfect for chocolate decorations. I’m not sure how widely available they are but I got mine at a specialist kitchen and bakeware shop. I used a roll of baking paper to pipe the crown shapes on to, then slid them off once they were completely set. They were quite fragile and some did break, but you can use a some more of the white melts as a glue to fix them up.

I then painted the crowns gold with an edible paint, giving them two coats for a really nice colour. You can buy edible paints online and in baking shops, but I found mine at a local pannier market for a bargain £2.75!  Pop the crowns on top of the cupcakes, and there you have it – coconut, blackberry and raspberry cupcakes, fit for a queen!

Apple and blackberry frangipane tart

This is my entry for Kate’s Autumnal Baking Challenge – an amazing idea as I think autumn may be my favourite season for baking!

I’ve made quite a few things recently that probably could have been entered for the challenge, but I wanted to make something especially with autumn in mind, and I’m glad I did as this was delicious!

I adapted a recipe from Delicious magazine for an apple frangipane tart, used Mary Berry’s sweet pastry recipe, and added in blackberries for extra autumnalness (yes, that is a word).

The blackberries were all picked within 3 minutes of my house and the apples came from my bosses tree, which in my mind makes this extra tasty!

Can’t wait to see the round up of everyone else’s Autumnal Baking!

Apple and blackberry frangipane tart:

For the pastry:

  • 100g butter, at room temperature
  • 175g plain flour
  • 25g icing sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1tbsp water

Chop the butter into small chunks and blend in a food processor with the flour and sugar until it has a breadcrumb texture. Add in the egg yolk and water and blend again, until it just comes together as a ball. Chill for about half an hour, then roll out to line a 10″ flan tin, and chill again for 10 minutes. Blind bake for 10 minutes at 180 degrees, then return to the oven for a couple more minutes until golden.

For the filling:

  • 125g butter
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 125g ground almonds
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 3-4 small apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 100g(ish) blackberries

While the pastry is baking, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then fold in the ground almonds and flour. Once the pastry case is done, pour the almond mixture in and spread level. Arrange the fruit in a pretty pattern (you probably don’t need to spend quite as long doing this as I did), then return to the oven and bake for about 30 minutes.

Heat 2tbsp apricot jam, then brush this over the tart and return to the oven for a final 10 minutes of baking. This amount of baking will make the top of the crust go quite brown, but the filling should be golden and shiny. Serve warm or cold.

Blackberry crumble cheesecake

This cheesecake was inspired by one of the same name by John Torrode, but I think it’s safe to say I made enough changes to call it my own.

I took the base of this cheesecake, as the comments on the original said it had a bit too much butter. I then decided to use this recipe for the filling, as I’d been wanting to try it for a while (to see if a low calorie cheesecake can really be as good as the full fat version).

I planned to use the topping of the original crumble cheesecake, but I didn’t like the fact that I’d have less control over how long to bake the cheesecake – if the crumble wasn’t browned I’d have to leave it in, even if the cheesecake was ready to come out.

For that reason, I followed the method of the Angela Nilsen recipe (ish) and made a separate crumble mixture and berry mixture to go on top once it was cooked.

I won’t lie, there’s quite a lot of faffing around with the way I made this, but it was well worth the effort. My only complaint is that the base went a bit soggy, and I’m not quite sure why – any suggestions?

I made this for my colleague Ryan’s last day at work before moving to Wales – he was very pleased!

Blackberry crumble cheesecake

For the base:

  • 140g digestive biscuits
  • 1tbsp sugar
  • 85ml melted butter

Blitz the biscuits and sugar in a food processor until they’re in fine crumbs (or alternatively crush with a rolling pin). Gradually add in the melted butter, then press into a 9″ round springform tin. My top tip for cheesecakes is if your in has a lip around the edge of the base like mine, turn it upside down – it will make it a million times easier to get the cheesecake off later!

Bake for 10 minutes at 180 degrees, then leave to cool while you make the filling.

For the filling:

  • 300g light Philadelphia cream cheese
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 3tbsp cornflour
  • zes and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1tsp vanilla extrract
  • 3 eggs
  • 150g light fromage frais
  • 100g fresh blackberries

Beat together the cream cheese, sugar and cornflour until well mixed and no lumps remain. Add in the lemon zest, juice and the vanilla extract, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Stir in the fromage frais, then the blackberries, then pour onto the base and bake for 10 minutes at 220 degrees.

After the 10 minutes, reduce the heat to 110 degrees and bake for a further 35 minutes. Leave in the oven overnight if possible, or at least 2 hours. This helps to stop it cracking, and I also bake my cheesecakes with a baking tray with 1cm hot water in it to create steam, for the same reason (look, it works!)

For the topping:

  • 125g blackberries
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 100g flour
  • 50g butter
  • 50g demerara sugar

Heat the caster sugar with 3-4tbsp water in a saucepan. When it is boiling, add in the blackberries and cook until thick and syrupy, but with whole berries remaining.

Rub together the butter and flour to make coarse breadcrumbs, then stir in the sugar. Spread the mixture onto a baking tray and cook for about 20 minutes at 180 degrees, taking out every five minutes to mix up with a fork.

Spread the berry mix over the cheesecake, then sprinkle the crumble mix on top. Chill in the fridge overnight, then serve.