Blackberry and Apple crumble

Blackberry and apple crumble is a timeless classic that children through the ages adore. Serve it with ice cream, custard or keep it healthier with some natural yoghurt, what ever you decide, you are onto a winner.

I am a little obsessed with blackberry picking at the moment, and we decided to expand our horizons this year with a trip to our local orchard to pick our own apples as well. It was a heavenly morning and we were luck with the weather so the children loved it. It made making the crumble that little bit more special because they had picked the apples from the trees themselves.

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Crumble itself is very easy to make and there are plenty of opportunities for children to join in too. This is how we do it:

Ingredients

8oz plain white flour

2oz oats

5oz butter

3oz sugar

2/3 cooking apples

1 bowl of blackberries

bberries

Method

Peel and chop the apples and cook them in a pan, with a splash of water and a pinch of sugar, until slightly soft.

Pour the apples into the crumble dish, add the blackberries and another pinch of sugar.

In another bowl combine the flour, oats, butter and roughly 2oz of sugar. Mix them into breadcrumbs using the tips of your fingers. (This is a really fun activity for the children to do.)

Pour the mixture over the blackberries and apples and pat down gently.

Sprinkle the remaining sugar over the top and bake in the oven for about 45 minutes, until it turns golden brown.

When I last made this the top never went golden brown, possible due to not enough sugar, so when it was cooked through, I popped it under the grill for a few minutes which did the job nicely!

(Tip: crumble can also be made with eating apples which are sweeter so require little, or no, refined sugar.)

The reality of gardening with children.

It’s hard!

My garden is a mess, a disorganised jumble of chaos that takes up my time, means I don’t do housework or get the dinner cooked and my kids don’t even like it. But I do; and so every now and again, when a small snippet of free time might come my way, I disappear into my garden, or down to my allotment, and I instantly remember why I like it so much.

For me it is the peace, the being surrounded by life, by growth and by change. It’s about the colours, the smells, the productivity and the purpose. Breathing in the fresh, outdoor air can melt away all my troubles in an instant, the days stresses dissolve into nothing.

That isn’t to say it doesn’t also cause stress. Recently, after a couple of weeks away from the garden, for various reasons, I return to this…

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I have one carrot that has kindly been spared by the slugs and some potatoes in there somewhere. (Upon editing this article I should say that my one carrot has now been squashed by the builder placing a large pile of bricks on top it, and on top of my 3 pea plants…)

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My one carrot that is no more…

I haven’t been to the allotment for even longer and quite honestly I am dreading what I will find there, if there is anything left among the weeds to find.

Trying to keep a garden, on top of all the other demands of raising a young family, is a very hard thing to do. I often have to make the decision whether to have a clean kitchen or a weed free vegetable bed and considering the rest of my family don’t see the veggie bed, I’m sure you can guess which they would prefer.

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I chose to tidy the green house over the washing up!

I have come to the realisation that as parents in a modern world, we are taking the world on our shoulders, and not always with much support. With this in mind, I think we need to be proud of ourselves. If you have a slug infested garden with one carrot in it, well that’s one more than none so be proud of it. If the builder puts a pile of bricks on that one carrot then it’s a real shame, but it can’t be helped, and you can always sow some more.

Children grow up, life changes and develops and we all have to start somewhere, so start. I am not about being perfect, I am about giving it a go, trying my best and taking comfort in the little things. In my mind, growing anything when raising a family, is an achievement, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem so we should all take pride in what we do, as long as we are trying, that’s all we can do.

If you want to start a garden with your children, check out out super simple Grow sets. They contain everything you need to sow your first plants and fun activities to engage the children. These make great gifts too.

 

Carrot cakes

This isn’t a traditional carrot cake but it is one that is great fun to make with children, and tastes yummy too.

Preparation time: 5 minutes; Cooking time: 20 minutes; Temperature: 180°/350f or Gas Mark 4

Ingredients

1

Four eggs

8oz caster sugar

8oz self-raising flour

8oz butter

2 tsp of baking powder

Orange and green food colouring

(optional: 2 carrots, cinnamon, custard powder, icing sugar, mascarpone, vanilla extract)

Method

1. Mix the flour, sugar, butter and baking powder in a large bowl and slowly add the eggs until it forms a creamy mixture. (Alternatively, put it all in a food processor and press the on button!)

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Option 1: To make this a proper carrot cake, just grate a couple of carrots and stir into the mixture with a bit of cinnamon.

Option 2: For a stronger yellow colour and a delicate vanilla flavour, replace a tablespoon of flour for some custard powder.

2. Now for the fun bit.  Take two tablespoons of the mixture and place in a small bowl along with some orange food colouring. In a separate bowl add some green food colouring to another tablespoon of mixture. Mix well, adding more food colouring as required.

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3. Using a small spoon make carrot shapes from the orange mixture on the baking tray, the thinner the better.  Then using a small spoon make the carrot tops with the green mixture.  Put in the oven for 6 minutes to cook on 180.7

4. Once cooked there is no need to wait for them to cool, just carefully spread the rest of the mixture on top. Place in the oven for 15 minutes, or until cooked (the skewer test always works for us!) Leave to cool and then remove from the tin…

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And there you have it! Carrot cake normally comes with icing so for those of you who cant do without, just mix a little icing sugar with some mascarpone cheese and vanilla extract, and serve in a little bowl alongside the cakes for people to help themselves. Perfect for afternoon tea!

We had lots of fun making these and have come up with lots of other great recipes so watch this space…