Last of the summer fruit (blackberry and apple) cake

I have made this cake twice in a week – once with the last of the raspberries and an apple from the garden and then again with wild blackberries and another apple.  A real foragers cake.  This sort of cooking gives me immense pleasure – I can always rustle up some sort of tea time treat and my ginger cake (July 20103) is a regular go-to as the required ingredients are usually on hand.   This cake is even more satisfying, a few bits and pieces found in the garden are giving star billing, a glorious last hurrah if you will.

A light vanilla sponge studded with flavour bombs of fruit, their crimson colour seeping into the yellow cake like a sunset.  The raspberries I used were supplemented with a few blackcurrants from the freezer and I will use these again soon – their bright and vibrant sharp-sweet flavour the perfect foil to the sweet sponge and a million miles better than the oft used blueberries.

Next on the bake list is my Beetroot and Carrot cake (February 2016) – an absolute delight and a great way to use up some of the late summer root veg (see bottom picture).

Blackberry and Apple Cake

Use what you have – blackberries are an obvious choice at the moment.   When all the summer fruit is done you could use some frozen berries as I did with the extra blackcurrants.  I add the extra flour to balance the extra wetness from the soft fruit and apple.  This isn’t too sweet a cake which I love but it could certainly take a drizzle of the lemon variety if you wanted, see my Spring Lemon Cake (March 2019).

160g butter or Stork

130g caster sugar

Good pinch of salt

2 large eggs

140g self raising flour plus two tablespoons

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

A good handful of blackberries or other fruit (see intro)

I medium apple grated, I don’t bother to peel it

Icing sugar to dust (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180 and line a loaf tin.  Cream the butter or Stork and sugar together until light and fluffy, I use a stand mixer for this but a wooden spoon and bowl work a treat too.  Add the eggs one at a time with each with the extra spoonfuls of flour until well incorporated and then add the remaining flour, salt, baking powder, vanilla and grated apple.  Finally gentle mix in the blackberries.  Put the mix into the lined tin and bake for 40-50 minutes.  Check after 40 and cover with foil if it is brown on top before a skewer comes out clean.   Cool on a rack for 10 minutes before removing from the tin.  Dust with icing sugar if you like or add a glaze (see intro).

The sharp eyed will notice that the cake in the picture above is the raspberry version because I caught a picture of this, the blackberry and apple one went too fast…..


Chermoula Cauliflower

This is essentially a riff on my Chermoula Prawns (April 2020) but with cauliflower.  As such you probably don’t need a recipe but I wanted to draw your attention to it because I make it so much (for that also read eat it and love it so much).   The cauliflower gets those delectable crispy bronzed edges in the oven and these combined with the powerhouse of flavour that is chermoula means this is an absolute winner.   We’ll have this for lunch, sometimes on its own but more often with an assembly of other dishes – this mezze/tapas type eating being a favourite of ours and a good way to eat more veg.   It also works brilliantly in packed lunches which now feature in my weekly cook as we are back at school and work.   You can cut the cauliflower into trendy steaks if you want but I usually do florets – that it is also vegetarian/vegan is simply a bonus.

Incidentally I cook fish a lot with this chermoula as well – very much in the same way as the  chermoula prawns and it perks up frozen fish, which I found myself using during lockdown, a treat.   This makes a supper that feels both light and clean but full of flavour and hugely satisfying.  Whatever you cook it with I encourage you to whizz up a batch – bright with herbs and citrus, underlying spice and a zap of heat – it really is good.

Chermoula Cauliflower

When I came up with the chermoula prawns during lockdown I had to use ground cumin and coriander (see below) as this is all we had.  Now I have a supply of the whole seeds I tend to use these, partly because I love the smell when bashing them in the mortar but also because their flavour is more vibrant.  If you choose the whole seeds simply warm them in a dry pan until fragrant then crush with a pestle and mortar and proceed.

2 tablespoons oil

1 onion finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

Small bunch mint, roughly chopped

Small bunch coriander, roughly chopped plus a bit extra to serve

1 tablespoon ground cumin (or whole seeds, see intro)

1 tablespoon ground coriander (or whole seeds, see intro)

2 teaspoons paprika

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Juice of 2 lemons (use limes if that is what you have)

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Half a tin of chopped tomatoes or 2 fresh tomatoes chopped or a handful of cherry tomatoes (use the whole tin or tomatoes/more fresh tomatoes if you want this saucy).

I cauliflower, separated into small florets

Preheat the oven to 200.  Put the cauliflower onto a large baking pan, turn in one of the tablespoons of oil, sprinkle with salt and cook for 20 minutes or so until just soft and beginning to brown on the edges.  Heat the other tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan and cook the onion gently until soft but not coloured.  Whizz the remaining ingredients apart from the tomatoes in a small food processor, with a hand held blender or chop by hand.   Mix a tablespoon of the paste with the cauliflower and return to the oven for 5-10 minutes and add the remaining paste to the onions along with the tomatoes and a good splash of water.  Once the cauliflower has had its additional time either add to the sauce or dollop the sauce over and serve sprinkled with the extra coriander.  This would serve 2 with rice and was actually enough for the 4 of us as a side for lunch.