September is the month for blackberries, apples and green cobnuts. Yes cobnuts are good at Christmas to be sure, but eat them fresh in September and it’s quite a different experience. These blackberry & apple spelt pancakes with brown buttered cobnuts are a taste sensation – truly.
The season of mellow fruitfulness is now upon us. I have a bag full of apples from my mother’s garden and blackberries abound in our Cornish hedgerows. Inevitably, a blackberry and apple crumble will make its way onto our early autumn dinner table. In truth, this time of year is just not complete without one.
One of the many highlights of our day at River Cottage last week, was the blackberry and apple spelt soda bread we made along with some beautiful butter. I was so delighted with the bread that I went foraging for blackberries a few days later and made a loaf at home.
When Kate announced that blackberries were to be the special ingredient for this month’s We Should Cocoa, I knew exactly what I wanted to make. Ever since my first rustic gooseberry galette earlier in the year, I was dying to try one with blackberries.
Following on from the success of my Red Berry Smoothie in a Bowl, I thought I’d try a smoothie in a sundae glass and eat it with a spoon. If you are going to eat something with a spoon, it encourages you to sit down – and a sit down breakfast is a rare treat for me.
When I was leafing through Chantal Coady’s book Rococo: mastering the art of chocolate a few weeks ago, I was struck by her recipe for White Chocolate Heartbreakers – a white chocolate cake served warm with a melting raspberry and white chocolate middle – rather like a chocolate fondant. I bookmarked it straight away as I thought it would be an excellent dessert for the upcoming blackberry season, producing a surprise purple melting middle rather than a pink one.
As this is a We Should Cocoa anniversary, I wanted to do something a little bit special. I also had a cake to make for a friend. I knew I wanted to use the chocolate blackberry jam I made a couple of weeks ago; it’s not only rather special but seasonal too. Leafing through some of my baking books, I came across Ruth Clemens’ Ultimate Chocolate Cake recipe in her book, The Pink Whisk guide to Cake Making. The recipe looked good and as we are all in the throws of the Great British Bake Off, it seemed rather appropriate as Ruth was one of the finalists back in 2010.
I decided to follow the recipe for the cake batter and the ganache, but not the buttercream as I was going to use jam. I halved the ganache recipe and changed the cake recipe a little – I just can’t help it! I attempted feathering for the first time using the leftover blackberry white chocolate ganache from the blackberry puddings recipe I have yet to post.
This is how I made:
- Measured 220ml milk into a jug and added 2 tbsp of malt vinegar to make a quick version of sour milk. Gave it a stir and left to coagulate.
- Creamed 165g unsalted butter with 300g light Muscovado sugar and 30g of Molasses sugar until light and fluffy.
- Beat in 3 duck eggs (large hens eggs can be substituted) one at a time.
- Sieved in 200g plain flour, 80g self-raising flour, 60g cocoa powder (I used Food Thoughts fairtrade & organic), 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda and 1 tsp mesquite powder (optional – gives a slight caramel flavour).
- Folded in alternately with the soured milk.
- Spooned the mixture into 2 7″ oiled baking tins and 3 small rectangular silicone moulds filling them to about 3/4 full.
- Left to cool in the tins, then turned out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Brought 140 ml of cream to the boil in a small pan with 1/2 tbsp golden syrup.
- Added 175g of 53% dark chocolate and left for a couple of minutes.
- Stirred until well mixed and smooth.
- Sandwiched the large cakes together with chocolate blackberry jam.
- Topped with the ganache.
- Piped lines of white chocolate ganache on top and then used a tooth pick to feather the lines – or at least attempted too.
- Cut the mini cakes in half, sandwiched with the jam then topped with the ganache.
The batter rose so well, that it annoyingly overflowed, which was not quite what I was looking for. The mixture was also a little fragile, so needed to be handled quite carefully when still warm. It was, however, very light and quite delicious. CT, who wasn’t party to the intricacies of the creation, was quite taken by the unexpected pleasure of the blackberry jam cunningly secreted in the middle – ooh he said.
We Should Cocoa has been running a stunning four years now and today celebrates going into its fifth year. Yes, it was five years ago that Chele and I started this monthly chocolate challenge. Chele kicked us off way back then with raspberries and it’s been a continuous journey ever since. In 2012 Chele withdrew from the challenge and it has subsequently been kept alive by many wonderful bloggers who have kindly taken on guest hosting duties. This has added an extra element of creativity and interest as every host has such different ideas as to what the ingredient or theme should be. It is with deep gratitude that I’d like to thank all of the hosts and the many other bloggers who have been involved with this challenge over the years and have contributed to making it such an enjoyable and successful blog event. Do please keep those offers of hosting coming in.
Bramble (or blackberry) and apple is such a classic combination, I thought it ought to be tried in cupcake form. I’ve been wanting to make something along these lines for a long time. My vision was for a bright purple blackberry icing and green cupcake cases to represent the apple part of the sponge. The trouble was, where to find some decent off road blackberries? There seemed to be a sad lack of them around us. Eventually, a trip was made to my mother’s garden where I was not only able to find an abundance of juicy ripe blackberries but also to forage a load of windfall apples. I was purple stained but happy, and my idea was finally able to come to fruition.
To me, food in London means two things and takes me straight back to my student days. Firstly, high end treats for special occasions like birthdays and graduation. I remember the excitement of tea at the Ritz & tea at the Grosvenor, not something a girl from a remote Cornish village had ever experienced before. Secondly and much more frequently, I made use of the abundance of good cheap Indian eats in and around the back of Euston Station – this may account for my occasional lateness to lectures. It was here I was introduced to Indian sweets and was smitten by their exotic flavours. So when Fiona of London Unattached set this month’s Best of British challenge as “what does London food mean to you”, Indian sweets were the first thing that sprang to mind.
I was dying to have a go at making some Indian sweets after receiving Indian-Inspired Desserts by Roopa Rawal (watch this space for a forthcoming exciting giveaway). So leafing through the book, it was just a matter of picking which one. Because I still have some rose syrup left, the coconut and rose barfi caught my eye. That was the one I wanted to start with, but with the addition of some fruit to offset the sweetness a little and to give some natural colour. Hmmm, what’s in season? Well it’s been a while since I last got scratched arms and purple stained fingers, but blackberries it had to be. I managed to pick a tub full from the hedgerows and made my way back home with glee.
This is how I made my first ever barfi:
- Pureed 300g blackberries with a stick blender & rubbed through a sieve to extract the juice into a medium heavy based saucepan.
- Added a 387g tin of condensed milk and warmed it up on a low heat, stirring all the while.
- Added 4 tbsp rose syrup.
- Increased the heat a little and added 200g of milk powder. Whisked until all lumps had disappeared.
- Added 40g desiccated coconut and continued to stir.
- Cooked for about an hour, stirring every few minutes until the mixture looked fairly dry and as though it might be thick enough to set.
- Spooned into a 2 lb loaf tin lined with baking paper and smoothed down with the back of a spoon.
- Crossed fingers and hoped it would set.
- Bingo, after a few hours it had well and truly set.
- Melted 30g dark chocolate (G&B Cook’s 72%) in a bowl over hot water.
- Turned out onto a board.
- Drizzled teaspoonfuls of the melted chocolate over the barfi.
- Cut into 32 squares
I was thrilled at the result; my barfi tasted like a true Indian sweet, despite the fact that blackberries may never have been used before. The texture was perfect too. The blackberry flavour was very much present and the rose though subtle, did not go unnoticed. The chocolate drizzle added another flavour dimension and helped counteract the sweetness. Having said that, they weren’t as sweet as I had imagined they would be. They featured at a dinner party I recently held for friends and were well received.
Best of British is a monthly challenge showcasing the best of what British food has to offer in various counties or regions around the UK. The challenge is sponsored by The Face of New World Appliances and currently has a £50 Amazon voucher prize to give to a winning entry each month. Here are the previous regional entries: Cornwall, Scotland, Yorkshire.
As I used freshly picked blackberries, I’m also entering this into Simple & In Season, a monthly blogging event created by Ren of Fabulicious Food and this month hosted by Katie Bryson of Feeding Boys and a Firefighter.
I’m also submitting this to Javelin Warrior’s Made with Love Mondays – a challenge embracing the whole concept of making everything from scratch.