Blackberry and Bramley apple tart

Autumn is here!  My favourite season of them all. So it was with great glee that I managed to pick enough blackberries on a walk a few weekends ago to bake the king of all British, autumnal fare: the blackberry and apple tart.

It’s a rare moment when all of these ingredients crowd together and demand to be baked into a rough-hewn pie, bubbling purple from beneath a golden pastry lattice. The blackberries have to be wild — picked from hedgerows and piled into baskets, or scattered into the bottom of plastic carrier bags. Their cost is bramble scratches, nettle stings and fingertips stained purple, but they are a million times sweeter and tarter than the strangely tasteless shop-bought variety.  And the apples have to be Bramley, ‘cooking apples’, with their intensely tart quality which renders them edible only when tamed with sugar and heat. You can’t use normal apples here, sorry.

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Ingredients

For the sweet pastry
  • 900g butter, softened
  • 65g caster sugar
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 200g flour
For the filling
  • 600g bramley apples, peeling and sliced
  • 200g blackberries, washed and gently patted dry
  • 100g caster sugar
  • A pinch of cinammon
  • 1 egg, beaten with two tablespoons of milk

Directions

– Heat oven to 190c / 170c fan oven / gas mark 5.

– Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until well combined and then beat in the egg yolks one at a time until fully mixed in.

– Mix in the flour until the mixture comes together as a ball of dough.

– Tip the mix out onto a floured worktop and knead briefly until smooth.

– Wrap the pastry in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

– Once it’s chilled, roll 2/3 of the pastry out on a floured surface, before using it to line the bottom of your favourite tart dish (about 23cm is ideal). Leave a slight overhang – the pastry will shrink when you bake it so you don’t want to trim it right down at this stage. (GBBO knowledge right there.)

– Save any pastry scraps, and return the tart to the fridge for 10 minutes. Prick the base lightly with a fork, then line with baking paper and baking beans or a suitable alternative (I used rice).

– Place in the oven on a baking tray for 20 minutes, remove the beans and paper, then bake for 10 mins more until sandy brown and almost biscuity.

– Tip the apples into a large bowl and microwave on high for 3 minutes to soften.  Toss in the berries, sugar, cinammon and 2 tbsp flour with a pinch of salt and mix well before piling into the case, saving 14 berries for later to go in the gaps of the lattice.

– Roll the remaining pastry and trimmings together into a square. Divide into eight strips of pastry.

– Weave the strips of pastry evenly over the fruit to create the lattice, and push the ends into the edge of the tart. Trim the overhang of pastry, brush the lattice heavily with the egg / milk mixture then scatter generously with more sugar.

– Push the remaining berries into the gaps, then bake for about an hour until brown and bubbling.

– Leave to cool for about half an hour, then serve with cream or ice cream.  Leftovers survive pretty well covered in cling film for a few days, and are also yummy cold.

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Tip: If you like, use leftover pastry to decorate your lattice. Take a small, sharp knife and cut out suitably autumnal shapes. Leaves are always a safe choice.

Listening to Sort of by Ingrid Michaelson, Brave by Sara Bareilles and Sister Rosetta goes before us by Alison Krauss and Robert Plant.

This recipe is an amalgamation of two from BBC Good Food, which you can find here and here. I made a few changes, namely reducing the amount of filling. Everything else is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.

Daytrippers: Brighton

Some photographs from a sunny day out in Brighton. It was our first visit to this lovely seaside gem, complete with window shopping, ice cream and lots of windy sunshine. We loved it!

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Listening to Photographs by Joshua Radin, Snow (Hey Oh) by Red Hot Chilli Peppers, This Kiss by Faith Hill and This will be (An Everlasting Love) by Natalie Cole.

All content is ©Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.

The Friday Frame {17} Monkey Nuts

On a recent visit to Oxford — almost a year to the day since I finished finals — we rapidly found our way back to our favourite pub in Jericho, the part of town near college. They have a huge barrel of monkey nuts that you can help yourself to, and tall plastic cups to carry them back to your table.  Cracking the husks and shaking out the nuts is a great way to pass the time, merrily showering yourself, your companions and the gingham tablecloths with flakes of dusty shell.

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All content is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.

Caramel {Millionaire’s} Shortbread

When I was in sixth form I once tried to make caramel shortbread when my parents were away. Yes, I was the teenager who embarked on ill-planned and over-ambitious baking in the absence of my parents. Crazy parties? Nope, flour in every corner imaginable and slightly ruined baking tins were more my style.  Anyway, it went quite wrong. I can’t really remember why, I think it got stuck in a tin which I wasn’t meant to be using anyway or something. Anyway, I thought I’d try again. Not to take this too seriously or anything, but with caramel shortbread it’s all about ratio. Ask any self- respecting lover of this traybake, and they’ll happily go into great detail about how much of each mouthful should be shortbread, how much caramel, and how much chocolate. Shop bought versions tend to be woefully uneven in this respect: think, a massive wedge of shortbread and comparatively inconsequential layers of both caramel and chocolate. A travesty. This recipe, on the other hand, gives you the perfect levels of caramel vs. chocolate and shortbread. Also, they’re super tasty. Well, I think so anyway.

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Glorious layers

 

Ingredients

For the shortbread

50g sugar

150g butter (unsalted technically, but I basically never have it in and salted was fine)

250g plain flour

 For the caramel

175g butter (again, should have been unsalted but I used salted and it was fine)

175g sugar

4 tbsp golden syrup

397ml condensed milk (standard tin size)

For the topping

300g chocolate (I used a mix of milk and dark, because that’s what I had lying around. I think all dark would be fine, but you might want to avoid all milk since it might tip these over from deliciously sweet to downright sickly)

– You’ll need the oven at 160 (fan 140, gas mark 3). Line a standard rectangular tin with greaseproof paper, making sure that there is some overhang at the edges – it’ll come in handy when you come to lift the traybake out later.

– Make the shortbread. Place the sugar, butter and flour into a large bowl – mix it all together, and then get your hands in and rub the fat into the flour/sugar until all of the lumps of butter are gone and you’ve got a soft breadcrumb type mix. It should hold together if you squeeze together a clump in your palm. (If you have a food processor, use that – I don’t though, and the hand mix option worked fine!)

– Tip the mixture into the lined tin, spread it out and use your fingers or the back of a spoon to press it down gently; you want it to be even and smooth.

– Now pop the tin in the fridge for about twenty minutes to harden things up, before baking for around 35 minutes, or until golden. Leave to cool.

– Next, make the caramel. Place the butter, sugar, condensed milk and golden syrup in a small saucepan over a low heat— heat gently and stir to combine all of the ingredients.

– Once the butter has melted and the ingredients have combined, you’ll need to keep stirring right to the bottom of the pan to make sure that the caramel doesn’t stick or burn. Bubble for about 5- 8 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened considerably – it’ll be thick, but still of pouring consistency.

– As soon as it’s ready, pour the caramel over the shortbread, and spread into an even layer if need be. Leave to cool.

– Melt the chocolate however you like – you could use the bowl over a saucepan of boiling water trick, but I favour the microwave. This works just fine as long as you cover the chocolate vessel and check/ stir it regularly to avoid burning.

– Pour the melted chocolate over the cool caramel, and spread it out into an even layer.

– Now just leave it all to cool. Once the chocolate is set, use a sharp knife to mark out and then cut into squares.

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Arty angles

 

If you write a blog, now is the time to wander around your flat looking for the best natural light. Once you’ve found it, you’ll want to put something vaguely attractive in the background; probably not that pile of receipts/bills or that tin of baked beans. Anything pastel or crafty is probably a good call. Even better if you have things that are pastel AND baking-related. If you’re truly dedicated, sprinkle some chocolate chips around about. Now, arrange your baking in an arty way, and take ridiculously-angled photographs until it looks pretty. Ignore the sceptical glances of anybody you may live with, surely they should be used to this by now?

If you have no need for arty and beautifully presented images of your creations, then feel free to just eat them. Much more sensible.

This recipe is adapted slightly from BakingMad.com. All other content is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.

Foodie Adventures: The Haberdashery, Crouch End

Last weekend, my lovely friend Helen came to stay. We share an ardent appreciation of all things vintage, pretty and higgledy-piggledy — we spend a lot of time exchanging links to beautiful tiles and extravagant baking projects. Mainly on Pinterest. You get the picture. And so when she arrived off the train at King’s Cross from my home town, I really wanted to make the most of having her in London and go somewhere adorable and awesome. A quick Google search of something along the very predictable lines of ‘cosiest cafes in London’ yielded The Haberdashery: the name had me instantly hooked. It was only an easy half hour bus ride from where we were to Crouch End, so off we went.

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I didn’t manage to get my own photograph of the amazing interior; this one is from the cafe’s website

We loved it! The interior is stunning; vintage and chintzy in all of the best ways with excellent use of Victorian fireplace tiles and coffee bowls (yep, we saw people getting hot chocolate in what looked like breakfast bowls, heaven) hanging eccentrically behind the till. Our drinks came in glass bottles, and our food arrived on charmingly mismatched vintage plates. AND our butter came in an ancient looking ceramic tub that once contained ‘Sainsbury’s Freshly Made Bloater Paste’, which it turns out (thanks, Google) is a kind of fish paste made from Bloater fish, which is traditionally eaten on toast for afternoon tea. No actual fish paste on offer, sadly, so I had a Breakfast Roll with bacon and egg. The bread was lovely —  exactly the right level of toasted — sweet and chewy. The egg was fresh and cooked to perfection — the bacon just as good. I know, I know, it’s an egg and bacon sandwich. But that just seems like a massive understatement: it really was unlike any I’ve ever eaten.

I also had a yummy Elderflower Soda Jar, which of course came in an actual chunky jar with a handle. Again, it was like Elderflower cordial I’d had before, but just somehow better. The cakes looked amazing, but we were just too full after our delicious mains to sample any! I have vowed to return for afternoon tea very, very soon. Here’s the website: if you ever find yourself in Crouch End, definitely pop in. Actually scrap that, it’s worth making the journey especially, if only just to avoid another soul- destroying “Oh, I suppose we’ll just go to Starbucks, then” moment. I’ll certainly be back!

The Breakfast Roll of destiny

The Breakfast Roll of destiny

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Elderflower Cordial in a handy-handled jar

Helen with 'The Colonial' Juice: apple, cucumber, lime + mint

Helen with ‘The Colonial’ Juice: apple, cucumber, lime + mint

All content is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015. Except the first photograph, which is from The Haberdashery’s website here.

The Friday Frame {12} Up the Wall

A mural on a backstreet in Warsaw. There’s just something about this that I love; it’s on the one hand very realistic, on the other strangely surreal. It’s also just amazing to create art on this scale, and in this environment —  I couldn’t help stopping for a few moments to gaze in wonder every time we walked past.

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Street art in Warsaw, Poland. Summer 2014.

All content is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.

Ginger & Eggnog: two Christmas drinks recipes

The days between Christmas and New Year are often a little bit of a weird time; some might even say they’re anti- climactic. It’s almost as though when Christmas day itself is over everyone remembers that December is, on the whole, cold and grey and (in Britain) also often quite rainy. In the build up to the 25th, it’s like all of the sparkle and mince pie making and carols have distracted us from this otherwise evident fact. So to fend off that strange Christmas-is-over-but-it’s-still-winter melancholy, here are two recipes for Christmassy drinks to raise your spirits. We’re only technically on the 5th day of Christmas, after all. And one of my favourite things about the Christmas period is having the time and the excuse to potter around in the kitchen. And I’d recommend some well- timed pottering to all feeling the after-Christmas blues.

Eggnog

Mum and I wanted to try making something that we’d never made before. And we chose the most stereotypical Christmas drink we could think of. There are a lot of variations on the eggnog recipe. We went for one where you make up the thin custardy part first, and then you can experiment with which alcohol you want to add to each glassful. We preferred brandy in the end.

Ingredients

1140ml/2 pints whole milk

6 free-range eggs

50g/2oz sugar

1 vanilla pod, split (or a decent glug of vanilla extract, which is what I opted for and went fine)

Brandy and/ or rum

Cocoa powder, for dusting

Directions

– Lightly whisk together the whole milk, eggs, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl.

– Pour into a large saucepan and heat gently on a low heat until the mixture is thickened. Stir continuously, and don’t let the mixture boil.

– Once the mixture is thickened, take it off the heat but keep stirring as it cools down to stop it sticking or burning. (Remove the vanilla pod if using rather than extract). I poured it into a large bowl in order to stop the cooking and cool the mix down. Stir occasionally to stop a skin from forming.

– Chill the mixture in the fridge.

– Once cold, pour some into a glass and add brandy or rum to personal taste. Dust lightly with cocoa powder if you’re feeling fancy (I forgot!).

Eggnog!

Eggnog! And a mini glass! And some ivy!

 

Ginger Christmas Cordial

And a non- alcoholic alternative. This is a recipe which my Northern Irish Nana always made at Christmas time, and my Mum still makes it when she can get hold of the ginger essence which is the most important ingredient, but which is a bit elusive in England. This year she found it in a health food shop. This is gingery and spicy and perfectly festive! In pretty bottles it also makes a great gift.

Riddle's Ginger Compound. Sounds a little bit sinister.

Riddle’s Ginger Compound. Sounds a little bit sinister.

Ingredients

– One sachet blackcurrant jelly

– 900g/2lbs sugar

– 4 pints/2.4 liters boiling water

Directions

– Dissolve the jelly and the sugar in the boiling water.

– Cover, and leave to go cold.

– Stir in the ginger essence, and pour into bottles.

– When you’re ready to drink it, dilute it as you would cordial. It’s great with either water or lemonade.

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The finished product

And there you go. Two drinks perfect for any New Year’s Party. Or family gathering. Or, you know, drinking alone watching Bridget Jones’ Diary.

All content is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2014.

Design in small spaces

Our flat is pretty nice. It’s also pretty small. Kitchen, bathroom, bedroom… That’s kind of it. This, my friends, is what two graduate salaries in the Arts/Humanities can rent you in London town. I really shouldn’t complain, we’ve actually got a very good deal: a lot of the places we looked at only had two rooms, and would have involved waking up, rolling out of bed and seeing your reflection in the oven door immediately opposite. One place I looked at online genuinely had the shower in the bedroom i.e. cubicle next to the bed. Quite a lot had no fridge or washing machine. The city should really employ me to advertise the perks of London living… Anyway.

To me, home is important: I’m definitely a home bird at heart. So even though this place is rented, and we can’t hang anything on the walls or have our own furniture or replace the dodgy extraction fan on the hob, I was determined to make it nice. I also didn’t want to spend a fortune (you know, Arts salaries, see above), so I used a lot of what I already had. I thought I’d share some of my efforts with you, in a handy numbered list of unfortunate home scenarios, and how to make them nicer.

Scenario One

A small, cheap white table. Quite wobbly, with a very warped and bubbled top from where the previous tenant has spilled something. Or been using a blowtorch. The letting agent promised to remove this on the day we moved in. It is now two months later and it’s still here, so I thought I’d make the best of it.

I made a kind of runner with a scarf which I’ve had for ages- it was a present and I think it originally came from New Look. I love books as decoration, so I piled up some of my prettiest ones. On top of the pile is a candle teacup which my mum made with a teacup and saucer that they were selling for about 50p at the local British Legion, melted down tea lights and string. Next to it is a vase that I bought for £5 from Next while I was at university because somebody bought me flowers too nice for a plastic bottle. Et voila.

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Scenario Two

A space which is small enough that you put down your bag at the end of the day and it feels like the messiest and most cluttered space on earth, combined with a slight make-up/cosmetics addiction. Solution: put it all in a massive box, but preferably a pretty box. With old maps on. That you got from TK Maxx for a tenner. The space instantly looks neater and all of your stuff is still easily accessible. I used all kinds of mismatched stuff to store my makeup and brushes inside, including a mustard tin and a makeup box that is straight out of an S Club 7 dressing room in the ’90s. This is a good tip for desks and stationary, as well as dressing tables. This is my kind of tidying, just hide it all away…

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OH MY GOSH SO MUCH MAKEUP DID NOT SEE THAT ONE COMING

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Scenario Three

Your heating is externally controlled by a mysterious being/ force that does not exist along the same space/ time continuum as we do. Thus it’s sometimes freezing, especially in November. Solution: get a throw in your life. This one is from BHS. It is so snuggly and warm it will change your life (no overstatement there) and make you choose activities based on whether you can complete them from under the aforementioned blanket of joy. TV/YouTube/reading are in. Washing up is probably out.

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Just looking at it makes you feel warm

All content is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2014.

 

The (almost) Friday Frame {7} Wildflowers

Yes, okay, it’s Saturday. But that’s almost Friday. Anyway, here’s a photograph of summer to offset the winter blues. These purple wildflowers are a common enough sight along the coast of Northern Ireland, a fact which does little to diminish their beauty, especially in the late summer sunshine.

‘The earth laughs in flowers’ – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

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Purple wildflowers, the Northern Irish coast, Summer 2013.

 

All content is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2014.