Friday, October 8, 2010
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness - been dying to use that line!!!! But seriously Autumn really is an incredibly fruitful season, particularly when it comes to foraging for free food. Although I was thinking that if you were counting man hours, and were charging yourself minimum wage this "free food" would be quite expensive!!
I have spent many hours devising a list of to do's for foraging the hedgerows, this is my considered offering!
1. Do not go blackberry picking wearing your MBT's, you will be unbalanced and unable to reach as far for those elusive big fat juicy ones.
2. Do not wear your new MBT's as you could head into a big pile of muck while reaching for a huge bunch of elderberries and totally ruin those shoes.
3. Do not go blackberry picking when you have a hand modeling audition (not that I actually had an audition, but wouldn't be a good idea if you had!!!!!)
4. This is probably the most important one .... After blackberry picking, do not under any circumstances visit a friend in hospital and use the alcohol wash at the entrance ..... you will be very, very sorry if you do. (and embarrassed for whelping in pain when there are actual sick people round about!!)
5. Wear heavy jeans, not a light pair of tracksuit bottoms - those nettles hurt!!
My first days blackberry picking resulted in a large blackberry and apple tart, which went down really well ...... so well in fact that about twenty minutes after I photographed and served the tart -
My next day's foraging yielded a huge bag of blackberries and some damsons and plums. These blackberries ended up in a bottle of vodka - Nigella's blackberry vodka to be exact (I'll let you know how that turns out at Christmas) and a Blackberry and Lime Cake, this cake is based on Sally's Lemon Butter Cake which I put on my "to try" list , then I read about it again on the wonderful Tea and Wheaten Bread blog Here (this post pushed it well up the list!!) and then I read EmmCee's enthusiastic Yum, Yum Post and I made it that day. Sally's original cake was flavoured with just Lemon, but I wanted to use my (hard won) blackberries and I thought that Lime would be a good combination, and I was right, I can only quote Emmcee "Yum Yum"!!
I have (as usual) made some changes - this is how I liked it, but please look to to the other versions and choose your favourite.
Blackberry and Lime Cake
200g soft brown sugar
250g self raising flour
3 eggs, beaten
blackberries - enough to carpet over the mixture
1 lime, zest for the cake and juice for the drizzle*
50g icing or caster sugar for the drizzle
Preheat oven to 180 C
Line a 24x33cm (13x9 1/2") deepish tin with parchment paper
Melt the butter in a large pan.
Add the sugar, combine well.
Add the flour followed by the eggs and the lime zest.
Pour half the mixture into the tin and spread out as evenly as possible.
Sprinkle the berries over the mix and then spread the rest of the cake mix over the berries.
Bake for 20 to 30 minutes.
When the cake is cooked (skewer comes out clean) throw together the drizzle, by just mixing the lime juice with the 50g sugar. Pour this over the hot cake (I used a pastry brush to get it everywhere)
Cool on a wire rack.
*I also made this cake with orange zest and juice, also wonderful, but I think the lime has the edge.
The queen of foraging would have to be Darena Allen, and I have been turning to her book Forgotten Skills of Cooking with each new fruit collected. I used her Raspberry, Boysenberry, Tayberry or Loganberry Jam recipe to make some Blackberry Jam (I know!!) Yet again I have changed the recipe, but I think it turned out very well!
900g (2lbs) blackberries
450g (1 lb) sugar
450g (1 lb) jam (preserving) sugar
Sterilise your jars by washing thoroughly (I pop mine in the dishwasher) and then heating at 150 C for at least 15 minutes.
Pour the sugar into an ovenproof dish and heat gently in the oven with the jars (same heat, same time).
Put the berries into a large wide stainless steel pot, mash and then heat for about 4 minutes until the juices begin to run.
Add the lemon juice and zest.
Add the warmed sugar and stir over a low heat until fully dissolved.
Raise the heat to bring to the boil and cook steadily for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
Test if the jam is set by putting a small blob on a plate you have had in the freezer,
Press the jam with your finger, if it wrinkles it is set.
Remove from the heat, skim and then pour into your sterilised jars.