Seasonal Sweet Treats

At this time of year, with the rapidly dropping temperature and the increasing need for an abundance of layers, all I want to do is snuggle up by the fireplace with a mug of something steamy and an indulgent nibble. The countdown to Christmas (yes, I said the big C already!) is the perfect time to unwind, despite the stress involved, and bake some tasty treats for all the family to enjoy.

Using fresh, seasonal produce where possible is ideal and with food such as apples, plums and pumpkins in season, you are spoilt for choice. The following recipes are easy, child friendly and most importantly, absolutely delicious!

Apple cake (1)-min

 

Apple and blackberry cake

This moist and sumptuous cake is an amazing alternative to the classic apple and blackberry crumble, which I’m sure many of you enjoy come autumn. The sweetness from the apples complements the slightly sharp blackberries, creating a delicious combination. Be sure to use any home grown produce where possible!

Apple and blackberry (2)-min

Ingredients:

125g butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing

125g caster sugar

3 large eggs

50g ground almonds

100g self-raising flour

½ tsp baking powder

3-4 medium sized apples, cut into thin segments

150g blackberries

1 tsp cinnamon

2 tbsp demerara sugar

25g toasted pecans, roughly chopped

Icing sugar, for dusting

 

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Meanwhile, line a 22-24cm round loose-bottomed cake tin with baking paper and butter it.

Using an electric whisk or a good, old-fashioned wooden spoon and a lot of elbow grease, cream the butter and caster sugar together until it is light and fluffy. Add one egg at a time, beating well between the first two and gently folding after the third. Then fold in the ground almonds followed by the flour and the baking soda, ensuring that everything is combined.

Add around 2/3 of the apples to the mixture along with the blackberries and stir gently in order to evenly distribute the fruit. Pour this into the cake tin and smooth the top. Arrange the remaining apple slices in rings around the cake, starting from the outside and moving inwards until the whole top is covered. Sprinkle the cinnamon and demerara sugar over the cake and bake in the oven for approximately one hour. Test by pushing in a skewer, if it comes out clean the cake is cooked (exact cooking time may vary according to your oven). Once the cake is cool, scatter on the toasted pecans and sprinkle over a light dusting of icing sugar.

 

Plum crumble bars:

These quirky bars are the perfect teatime treat. The sticky plum juice is perfectly contrasted by the crunchy, crumble-inspired topping.

Plums (3)-min

Ingredients:

150g brown sugar
50g white sugar

225g cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

375g all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp salt
1 small egg
8 medium plums, thinly sliced

Method:
Preheat oven to 185°C, and grease a rectangular baking pan (about 22x33cm) with butter.
In a large bowl prepare the crumble mixture by mixing the brown sugar, white sugar, baking powder, flour, and spices. Then rub the cold butter into the flour mixture, until evenly distributed. The mixture should look like breadcrumbs.  Beat the egg and add it to the crumble mix, making sure to combine it thoroughly. Make the bottom crust by firmly pressing about 3/4 of the mixture onto the bottom of the prepared pan.  Next, layer the plums over the top of the crumb base to your desired thickness and scatter the remaining 1/4 of the crumble mixture over the top of the plum slices, without pressing it down.

 

Bake the bars in the preheated oven for approximately 30-35 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the plums around the edges are beginning to bubble.  Cool the bars completely in the pan before cutting them into squares. These are best enjoyed straight away!

 

Words: Ella Rhys-Jones

 

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#Food #Autumn #Recipes

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