Thursday, 24 October 2013

Autumn Baking

Yes, yes, I am one of those people who love Autumn. Any season that makes it ok for me to get out my hot water bottle and drink hot chocolate in bed is alright by me. And the Autumn colours, obviously! My place of work looks like this in Autumn:

Image copyright English Heritage
If that's not a good enough excuse to get up for work on a dark morning, I don't know what is!

So as Autumn is slowly slipping away from us and the time for sloe gin and Christmas cake is nigh (actually, I don't like Christmas cake so I'll just have extra gin,) let's have a look at what I did with Autumn goodies.

The Food
Brambles, apples, plums & pumpkins. Three of those things I got for free right of the bush/tree! Amazing. 

The brambles came from my own back garden. We discovered the bush last year after we got very little gardening done due to the bad weather; this thing just started taking over the garden and then produce some lovely brambles. It turns out my Mum had taken a cutting from my auntie's garden years ago and forgot about it and had been cutting it back for a number of years, meaning we had no idea it was going to produce some delicious fruit until last year. This year we didn't dare cut it through fear of losing the berries. It is in the corner of the garden affectionately called 'the wild area'.

The plums came from work; we have a small orchard in the grounds that's made up of plum, apple and pear trees and bounty this year has been amazing.

My apples didn't come from the Priory but from a castle! Nearby Richmond Castle was also enjoying a fruitful September and I sweet talked our gardeners into acquiring me some. (When I made a visit to Richmond the branches were far too high for me to get them myself!)

Richmond Castle - Image copyright English Heritage
Sadly I don't have access to a pumpkin patch so my pumpkins came from Tesco.

Hagrid's Pumpkin Patch
The drink

Plum liqueur
After a successful bash at making sloe gin last year, I knew I was going to make more liqueurs this year, and because we had such an abundance of fruit I was able to make a couple.

Blackberry liqueur
I used this recipe for the plum liqueur and this one for the blackberry one. (Note: if you get minute have a look through The Boy's Club site - their cocktails are inspirational!) Nothing to report here as I just followed the recipes and both are still doing their thing! I did run out of vodka for the blackberry so topped it up with white rum. I'm sure it'll be fine...

The Sweet

One word: crumble. In our house the fruit is a necessary evil. We would quite happily (and have been known to) eat a bowl of crumble with some custard. I used James Martin's recipe for the crumble (110g/4oz butter, softened - 110g/4oz demerera sugar - 180-200g/6-7oz plain flour just lightly rubbed together and baked on a baking sheet for 15 mins at 190/170/gas 5) and then I used this BBC Good Food recipe for the fruit. Delicious! I love warm brambles - they remind me of when my Nanna used to make bramble pie. Even the smell gives me that nostalgia. Yum! She should get on that again.

Plum, chocolate & hazelnut cake
Next was this recipe also from BBC Good Food. Can you see I haven't done anything ground breaking? I am afraid using other peoples' recipes was the best I could come up with! I was unsure about the plum, chocolate & hazelnut combo of this cake but it actually was surprisingly lovely. The ground hazelnuts really came though and the texture of the plum was a nice contrast. I would recommend giving this a try for something different.

The Savoury 

Image copyright BBC Good Food
Pumpkin soup!! I have memories of eating pumpkin soup ata German Christmas market around a barrel after a few too many Gluhweins. Perhaps that is why I remember the soup tasting so delicious but it also came in a bowl made out of bread! Uh! Amazing! It was mindblowing.

I had to eat my soup out of a bowl and one day I had to eat it with Ryvita because I didn't have any bread. Not. On.

Guess where I went for my soup recipes? Well done - BBC Good Food. The first one was a little but onion and cream heavy  - maybe it only needed one onion but the onion taste is why my mum liked it so much so each to there own. The Thai one had such an amazing fragrance - it just smelled of Thai  It was little thinner than the first one but I think that's just the style of Thai soup but it certainly had a lot more flavour and a definite kick from the red curry paste but was maybe lacking in the taste of the ginger, although I think that might be my own fault.

So I might not be winning any awards for culinary originality but I have enjoyed baking and eating things that I have foraged for. Ok, so very little foraging took place but I found the process of baking things that I knew to come directly from the source extremely satisfying. And I just can't wait to get my hands on the sloes in a couple of weeks time!

Vicky xx

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