Let’s hear it for autumn! I love shiny new school shoes, collecting conkers and cosy evenings with a box set. And foraging for apples and blackberries, to make this diet-friendly and damply delicious cake.
Kids with new pencil cases and shiny shoes busy prising glossy conkers from their spiny cases between foraging for blackberries and windfall apples. At the risk of sounding like Julie Andrews, these are a few of my favourite things.
Granted, long summer evenings of barbecues and spritzers are lazily idyllic but let’s hear it for the delights of autumn. This season is all about harvest. The hard work’s mostly been done, the garden has stopped sprouting uncontrollably and there’s little more to do except the final few grass cuts of the year and gathering in the (literal) fruits of your labours.
Even if you don’t have a garden bursting with fruit, autumn is the time to pull on wellies and head out to make the most of the wild harvest of our hedgerows.
Everyone from the littlest ones up can pick blackberries (pop one in the bowl to take home, and one in the mouth to eat now) and learn to tell a maggoty windfall from a freshly-dropped one that’s just right for a free pie or crumble.
Or try this blackberry and apple cake, for a deliciously autumnal change. Fruit’s a healthy base for cakes that won’t ruin your diet completely – and this one is bursting with apples and blackberries for maximum seasonal damp deliciousness. Is it time to light the fire yet?
Apple and Blackberry Cake
Serves 12 • Ready in 1 hour + cooling time
250g self-raising flour
½ tsp ground cinnamon
90g butter, melted
100g light brown sugar
150ml semi-skimmed milk
2 large eggs, lightly whisked
4 eating apples, peeled, cored and cut into 8 wedges
For the topping:
50g butter, cut into small cubes
30g light brown sugar
• Preheat the oven to 190°C (170°C fan/Gas 5). Lightly grease a large (22cm) loose-bottomed cake tin.
• Sift the flour and cinnamon into a large bowl. Add the butter, sugar, milk and eggs. Mix together well with a wooden spoon. A perfectly smooth texture is not necessary for the texture of this simple cake. Pour into the tin.
• Arrange the apple wedges over the cake and distribute the blackberries evenly over the top. Dot the cubes of butter over the apple pieces and sprinkle on the sugar. Bake in the oven for approximately 50 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
• Allow to cool in the tin for at least 15 minutes before removing to a cooling rack. Keeps in an airtight container for up to 3–4 days.
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