8 September 2020
SEPTEMBER BLOG

Well, I suppose I must mention the word autumn, although I hate to give in and admit that summer is over. As I write this at the very end of August, it’s cold and grey and the amazing sunshine and heat that we had earlier this year is a distant memory.

But there’s always a silver lining, as they say, and autumnal fruits are one of those glorious compensations that Nature tends to offer in the changing seasons… As we begin this month that will be filled with plentiful British apples, pears, blackberries and other delights, my mind inevitably turns to crumbles, pies and cobblers. There’s a comforting sound to those names, making me quite nostalgic for my mother’s cooking - and for a childhood that probably existed more in the books I used to read that in the reality.

The food, however, was real for sure, and is comfortingly unchanged to this day whenever I make one of those iconic puds. So I’ve included one this month - a recipe for Apple and Cherry Cobbler. The word ‘cobbler’ in the context of food means different things to different people, but I think of it as like a fruit pie or crumble but topped with scones instead of pastry or crumble mix. Some recipes suggest spooning a batter-like scone mix into rough heaps on top of the fruit, but I like to pat out the dough and cut little scones before using them as the topping. After all, the name does apparently stem from the surface of the cobbled streets that existed around the time the pudding was devised, and there’s no question that my little scones look remarkably like that surface. In any case, it’s definitely a whole lot easier to make than a perfect pastry topping and makes a change from a crumble.

And last month I also promised you an idea for school lunchboxes, so that’s my other recipe for September. I experimented with making a savoury flapjack, unsure as to whether it would be disappointingly dull and chewy, but I was delighted with the result. If you’re a fan of sweet ‘normal’ flapjacks you do have to try not to think about that delicious syrupy taste as you pick one up (it took me a couple of bites to get over my inbuilt expectations!), but once you know it’s going to be cheesy rather than sugary it’s a delight. The recipe makes about 12 good sized flapjacks, so I kept out half a dozen, ate one more myself, and froze the other 5. Hopefully most young children will have less experience of sweet flapjacks, and most of them love cheese in my experience, so they should go down well and it’s so good to know they’re not chewing on masses of sugar.

I tried one on my little granddaughter - not of school age yet but a very keen eater and perfect for tests of this kind - and it went down really well. I mentioned my Mum at the beginning of this blog, and I’ve said before how I tend to feel her at my shoulder when I bake with one of my grandchildren - hopefully passing on to them the heritage of home cooking that inspired me. It certainly worked with my own children, who have all grown up to be good cooks and enthusiastic eaters…

Have a good September, keep well and do get in touch with any comments or questions. I always love to hear from you

Love Jane x

Savoury Flapjacks

You can obviously vary the ingredients of these delicious flapjacks to suit personal preference - I found a bag of good mixed seeds in the supermarket which added some tasty crunch. If you’re making these for very small children, just make sure you blitz the nuts and seeds until they are very tiny. I also added some Parmesan for an extra-cheesy taste, but it’s not essential.

Ingredients

  • 50g cashews
  • 50g mixed seeds
  • 275g rolled oats
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1 small tin sweetcorn
  • 200g medium-strong cheddar cheese, grated (and a little Parmesan)
  • Pinch mixed herbs
  • 200g butter, plus extra for greasing

Method

Preheat the oven to 175c/160C fan assisted/gas mark 3. Grease a tray-bake tin, roughly 25 x 20cm, with butter. Put the nuts and mixed seeds into a blender and blitz for a few seconds.

Put the oats, carrot, sweetcorn, cheese and herbs into a large mixing bowl.

Add the nuts and seeds and mix well.

Melt the butter and add to the dry mix, stirring well until combined.

Tip the mixture into the tin and spread evenly, pressing down with the back of a wooden spoon.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden.

Remove from the oven and, while still in the tin, cut carefully into 18 with a sharp knife.

Leave in the tin until completely cold, then carefully lift the flapjacks out onto a serving plate, or wrap for a lunchbox (or freeze).

Apple and Cherry Cobbler

The traditional recipe is for apple and blackberry, but most kind of fruit works well, and I used some frozen cherries that I had in the freezer. It’s a bit of a luxury, but the frozen ones are less than half as much as fresh ones, and in a cooked dish just as tasty.

I used a mix of apples - a couple of cookers among the eating ones - and it made for a very tasty filling. I like it quite sharp, but if you have a sweet tooth add some more sugar to the mix.

Ingredients

  • 8-9 medium/large eating apples (about 950g)
  • About half a 480g bag of frozen cherries, thawed
  • 75g sugar (or to taste). I used golden granulated, but any will do
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 pack Jane Asher scone mix
  • 1 egg for brushing

You will need a round cutter about 4.5cm diameter

Method

Put the lemon juice in a large mixing bowl. Peel, core and slice the apples, adding them to the bowl and mixing with the juice to stop them browning. Add the cherries and the sugar and leave it all to macerate while you make the scones.

Pre-heat the oven to 190C/175C fan/gas mark 5.

Make up the scone mix as directed, then, on a floured surface, press out the dough to about 1.5-2cm thickness. You should have enough to cut out 18 little scones, gathering up and pressing out the dough again as necessary.

Turn the sugared fruit into a large oven-proof dish. Sprinkle with a couple of tablespoons of water, and then top with the scones, spacing them evenly across the top.

Brush the tops of the scones with a little beaten egg.

Then bake for 45-50 minutes or until the scones are golden and the fruit juice is bubbling around the edges of the dish.

The fruit will be very hot, so allow to cool for a few minutes before serving with cream.