Not normally a recipe post type of person, but this one I thought you might get a kick out of since it’s made from foraged ingredients and a pastry base that anyone can make. Perfect if you need to impress someone but have no cooking skills.
London is beautiful at this time of year, with the leaves turning gold and bronze, and the wind starting to get that little nip in it that portends the snows of Winter. I’m not a huge fan of Winter in England because it gets kinda cold and dark, and it can be hard to stay warm when you’re out and about, but London truly is beautiful all year round and to remind myself, I’m celebrating the best things about this time of year.
Having just passed the Autumnal Equinox, when day and night are equal length, we start to swing into days that are much shorter. Tweed and cashmere are the desirable fabrics right now, textures that you can curl up in, and that can be layered for the indoor or outdoor climates. This jacket is an old favourite from Maje, and the look is a Borjois Eyeshadow Quad in 06 Upside Brown paired with berry lips in Chanel Rouge Allure 28 Romantic. Don’t gold eyes and berry lips feel so perfect for this time of year?
At this time of year, seasonal fruits like blackberries, crab apples and other wild fruits can be found growing at the side of the road or in your local woodlands. (I live in London and we have a huge amount of black berry growing in our little local wildernesses) There’s nothing quite like serving up a dessert that’s handmade and heart-warming, made from your foraged fruits from the forest. Of course, I don’t advocate foraging unless you know exactly what you’re doing, you certainly don’t want to poison yourself or make anyone else sick. I happen to know that the crab apples, blackberries and wild apples we picked were safe to eat. You can simply buy the fruit at your supermarket, and it will taste just as good.
But there is something about finding your own wild fruits and making things out of them to warm your heart in the winter months ahead.
I think that we will perhaps attempt a crab apple jelly or blackberry and wild apple jam later this month, but there is a bit of an art to making that kind of thing, so if I figure it out, I’ll share it with you. But this is a really easy tart that you can make with zero skills, and fill it with whatever you want or have to hand. Brilliant.
Seasonal Blackberry and Apple Tart
So pastry is normally a kind of high maintenance thing to make, but here we make a French short crust called Pate Brisee which I promise you you can ace, and you’ll never get that soggy centre. It’s great.
OK, so over a low heat, melt 150g of butter in a saucepan (things like Flora Light or whatever work and taste equally well).
Add 65g sugar and stir til combined. I use demerara because I like the rustic taste and flavour, but caster sugar is great too. You can add a little more if you want a sweeter base. I add an optional drop of vanilla essence here, but you don’t need it. You could add a pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg, depending on what fruits you’re using if you’re feeling creative.
Sift in 225g plain flour (in a pinch I have used self raising, and it was fine), and mix through til you have a ball of dough.
You’re then meant to let it cool, but at this point I drop it into whatever dish I’m using, and gently roll it out and mush it around til I get it how I like it. I keep it rough and homely, rather than going for a perfect look. But you want to evenly cover the base and go up the sides a little. A metal spoon is good for this.
With this shortcrust, once you have it how you want, let it cool or even chill it in the fridge for a while before adding your fruits or fillings. It will crisp up a bit and be perfect. No soggy middles.
With most pastry you have to blind bake or do things like that, but you don’t with this. Once it’s cooled, it’s ready for fillings. (You can find non-sweet versions of this to make savoury tarts as well)
The Fruit Filling
So, you can do this a few ways, but here’s how I did this one.
I sprinkled a teaspoon or two of sugar over the blackberries, and let them sit for an hour or two while the pastry cooled.
Once the pastry is cool, peel and core apples or pears, slice them and place a layer of them on the bottom of the tart. (Tinned apples or pears will work just as well, just don’t use any fruit in syrup or pie apples that are already sweetened, because it’s just sickly once cooked)
Layer your blackberries over the top, like so (you can use way more than this, this is just what we foraged). And then bake in about 180’c for about 10 – 12 minutes. I always take a quick peek at around 9 minutes, to make sure it’s going ok.
With the fillings, you can leave out the apple layer, I used it because wild apples are seasonal right now, and they’re perfect for cooking. You can just use apple without berries, perhaps sprinkling with a little cinnamon and sugar. You can use strawberries or any other berry instead. I don’t really know much about cooking, but this is delicious and really easy, and you can play around with it a bit without screwing it up, so it’s perfect if you want to experiment or try something new.
As you can see, it comes out pretty rustic, but it tastes like home, is perfect with a hot Earl Grey after a ramble in the woods, or while reading a good book while rain beats on your window. Delish!
If you liked this post you might like some of my other posts, like THIS tweed look or THIS post about how and why I started blogging. You can also follow me on Instagram @hermioneflavia or on Twitter @cravenwild. If you try this recipe, please leave a comment below, I’d love to know how it went and what you thought!