When I was little I used to spend my holidays with my Granny in the country. In the summer, I would set off on my bike to explore with a couple of friends and a picnic. I remember it was sunny all the time, but this is England, so that can’t be right. Anyway,
on these endless sunny days, there were always blackberries to be picked. We’d arrive home with purple stained hands and smudges across our mouths telling tales of the our gluttony (not much changed there then). Of course I brought home a large plastic bag filled with berries that I’d saved for Granny. I might as well have eaten them instead of handing over the now messy pulp. Having banged against my knee all the way home, as the bag hung off my handle bars.
Finding wild fruit is still easy. Everyone knows where to find and how to identify blackberries. But there are also wild apples (the result of people throwing their apple
cores from the car windows, so the story goes). Elderberries, Sloes and damsons.
A friend has offered me a demi-john (1 gallon or 4.5 litres) for making damson gin. Even I would struggle to get through that much gin! But I might take him up on the offer of the recipe. Then there’s the sloes that should be picked after the first frost but thanks to our strange weather this year, the fruit is ripe now. So will have to go into the freezer for the night before being drowned in gin or vodka.
All this talking about childhood has reminded me of the cakes that I used to make with Granny on the odd occasions when the blackberries I’d handed over were edible.
Blackberry And Apple Mini Cakes ( These are actually a cross between a cake and a muffin. Granny hadn’t heard of American muffins).
- 175g unsalted butter soft
- 175g light (muscovado) brown sugar
- 3 eggs lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
- 175g self-raising flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 dessert apple peeled, cored, chopped small
- 15g flaked almonds chopped
- 24 wild blackberries (about 45g)
- Heat the oven 180c / gas mark 4
- Cream the butter and sugar until it is fluffy and pale brown in colour
- Add the flour, baking powder, the beaten eggs, vanilla paste, milk and chopped apple
- Mix well with a wooden spoon into a thick batter
- Divide between 8 cake cases and top with 3 blackberries and a sprinkle of chopped almonds (the cake will rise and envelop the blackberries)
- Bake in the centre of the oven for 15 – 20 minutes until golden brown and the sponge spring back when gently pressed
- Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack to cool
- Serve plain or with whipped cream and a few more blackberries