Seasonal Recipes: Apple, Raspberry and Almond Cake

This is the cake from my story: The May Garden

I found this recipe in a beautiful book entitled, “Apple: Recipes from the Orchard”. My version is a little simpler and misses out the icing stage – regular readers will know that I tend to avoid any sticky toppings as my bakes have to travel across fields and woodlands in an old shortbread tin. I have also added my own adjustments to help the fruit settle evenly throughout the cake. The original recipe is to “serve 8” however my family of seven dispute this ūüôā

Ingredients:

150g ground almonds

250g golden caster sugar

185g self-raising flour

1 tablespoon plain flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 eggs, beaten

Grated zest 1/2 a lemon

1-2 drops rose water

200g unsalted butter, at room temperature (and a little extra for greasing the tin)

125g raspberries

2 Granny Smith apples, cored and diced into cubes

Equipment:

23cm springform cake tin

Baking parchment

Kitchen Mixer

Spatular

Scales

Sharp knife

Small bowl

Silverfoil

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 160¬ļC/320¬įF
  • Grease and line the cake tin.
  • Put the ground almonds, sugar, flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl and mix well.
  • Gradually add the eggs, whilst continuing to mix.
  • Add the lemon zest and rose water.
  • Fold in the butter.
  • Gently coat the raspberries in the plain flour (this will help prevent them from sinking to the base of the cake)
  • In the separate small bowl, incorporate the raspberries with the apple pieces very carefully. I found that if I did not do this, the fruit distribution would be uneven and half of the cake would be apple, half of the cake would be raspberry.
  • Add the raspberry and apple mixture to the other ingredients and fold in with care, so that some of the raspberries remain whole.
  • Pour the mixture into the lined tin and level with a spatula.
  • Bake in the centre of the oven for approximately one hour. Towards the end, add foil to the top of the cake to prevent it from burning.
  • When a skewer, inserted into the middle of the cake, comes out clean, remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool.
  • After the cake has cooled, remove from the tin and serve.

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Apple: Recipes from the orchard

Seasonal Recipes: Scottish Raspberry Shortbread

Scottish Raspberry Shortbread

(Original recipe: Scottish Baking by Sue Baker)

I’m going to file this recipe under “Autumn” as raspberries are in season from August-October here in England. ¬†However, they do make a delicious treat for¬†Burns Night. ¬†I’ve reduced the number of raspberries from the original recipe, as my¬†children find the shortbread very crumbly and this ratio¬†helps to hold the delicate biscuits together.

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Ingredients:

200g butter/dairy free spread, softened.  A little extra for greasing the tin.

100g golden caster sugar, extra for sprinkling on top

250g self-raising flour, sifted

70g medium oatmeal

150g fresh raspberries

Equipment:

Swiss roll tin (or similar low-sided baking tin approx 23x33cm)

Baking parchment

Kitchen Mixer (or you could mix by hand … it will take a while)

Sieve

Knife

Kitchen scales

Recipe:

Cream butter and sugar together until pale and creamy.

Combine the flour and oatmeal, and then carefully add it to the creamed mixture in batches, waiting for each batch to be incorporated before adding more.

Grease the Swiss roll tin and then press down the baking parchment to line it, leaving an overhang to use as handles, to pull the delicate shortbread out later.

Pre-heat the oven to 150degreesC

Arrange the raspberries on the tin in even lines.

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Press the shortbread mixture around and over the raspberries Рit should just about cover the bottom of the tin.  It will look messy Рthis is absolutely fine.

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Prick the mixture all over with a fork and then place in the middle shelf of the oven for 40 minutes or until golden brown.  (My oven takes an hour, because it is old and temperamental.)

Sprinkle the shortbread with sugar and then lift it out of the tin ever-so-carefully using the baking parchment, and place it onto a wire rack to cool.  It will be very fragile and soft, so do not attempt to remove the baking parchment.

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Cut the cooled shortbread into squares.  (Tip:  The raspberries are prone to stain wooden chopping boards as you cut the biscuits out Рso use an old one!)

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If you have any left over … and it doesn’t all vanish in minutes, you can keep it in a tin for ¬† 24 hours. ¬†If you pop it in the fridge for a while, it will be less fragile to handle.

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One of our closest friends bought us some delicious Scottish Shortbread for Christmas (how well they know us) – so we now have a lovely tartan tin to keep our homemade version in ūüôā

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Scottish Baking by Sue Lawrence

Potager Garden: Summer days and the first raspberry harvest

We were so happy when our little bare root stock gave us delicious raspberries in its first growing year …

… and then the slow-growing cabbages, that had braved late winter weather, flooding and fended off greedy slugs, were finally ready to harvest.  I planted successions of spring onions, so we are still picking those almost daily now.  The French Beans followed soon after.

You can see here how the courgettes (back left) have completely taken over the raised beds and are spilling over the lawn.  We went away on a camping trip and returned to over twenty marrows, and the same amount of baby courgettes.

I love this close up photograph of the Buddleia that my husband took, showing the clusters of miniature flowers on a stem.

Towards the end of July, the tomatoes were looking almost ready.  We have a dozen more plants, that are a few weeks behind this one, for a steady crop through August.

Here you can see the tiny tendrils of one of our pumpkin plants.  These have grown really well this year, with all the sunshine and showers we have been getting.  We are going to have to quickly get our fourth large raised bed in, and transplant our peppers, before they are engulfed!  Underneath the pumpkin leaves, you can just make out the savoy cabbages.

This sunflower was a complete surprise as the packet of seeds promised one giant sunflower … and instead it has five heads.  Here’s the first one, with the others just starting to bloom.

Pulling the leaves back on our Brussels sprouts plants, you can definitely spot the tiny Brussels growing up along the main stem now.

This was “marrow week” – where we quickly had to learn many different ways of cooking a marrow (all suggestions welcome, we have many more to get through!)  These ones were baked and then stuffed with a spicy Mexican bean filling.

Finally, this was the day when many radishes all became ready on the same day.  Avocado salad toasties for all :o)

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Potager Garden: mushrooms, recycled planters, seedlings and a birthday

Here in England¬†we have had the most perfect spring week of bright sunshine, so we have been away from our blog getting lots of work done on converting the garden into a potager. ¬†Here’s a little update on how it’s going…

With thanks to our online friends, we have our slug problem humanely under control using grapefruit peel.   The brussels (that were munched almost down to stalks in just one night) have recovered wonderfully with fresh new leaves.

Throughout March we collected all of our soup and vegetable tins, and my husband has drilled holes in them so that they now have a new life as planters.

The basil, thyme, dill, chives and coriander seedlings are coming along nicely.

As we are working in a relatively small plot, we are¬†experimenting with using garden wire to hang the tins from the fence as a vertical herb garden … more on that later!

The french beans¬†on the camping table suddenly had a growth spurt one night and started to try and attach themselves to the ceiling light fitting (!) So they’re now in giant pots on the kitchen floor, trained up¬†large bean poles … safe inside until after the May frosts.

The little raspberry plant is growing very quickly now, which is such a relief after it arrived in a terrible state.  Around the pot you can see the remains of soap nuts.   We use this brilliant little nuts in our washing machine to clean and condition our clothes, then we are able to recycle the husks on the garden to enrich the soil.

Then it was my birthday, and my husband and children built me a raised bed as my present …

… and¬†my friends and family were really supportive of the way we are trying to live as sustainably as we can; hand making or sending virtual cards, giving us plants for our home and garden, or books to help us learn about how to make the most of this year’s surplus. ¬†I have one kind friend who bakes me a wonderful vegan chocolate cake every year, even though she’s an omnivore herself.

And then finally, great news on the mushrooms we are cultivating.  The tiny domes of baby mushrooms are just visible Рand we have some great photos to share in our next post.

We are now moving onto the next phase for this growing year and have many new seeds planted and more gravel boards and posts on order from the local timber yard Рenough for three more raised beds!

Happy spring gardening everyone x

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