Apple and Bramble Crumble – be it ever so humble it’s hard to beat

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Our recent family holiday in Devon was on a wonderful farm with very, very comfortable accommodation, a lovely little cottage, there were animals for the children to feed, amazing views and the best fresh eggs in the morning boiled and served with soldiers.

Freshly collected Eggs
Fresh Eggs at Lower Campscott Farmer

We the last of the summer’s strawberries with tubs of Farmer Tom’s delicious clotted cream ice cream, some wonderful Dexter beef ribeye steaks from our hosts herd at Lower Campscott farm and all the Devon cream teas daddy could ever wish for. Around the farm were some wonderful walks down through fields and woodland to the bay at Lee and a wonderful little nature walk.


Nature Walk

As we all went through the field with the Shetland ponies and Mummy, Lilly and Honeysuckle helped me pick a mountain of ripe, plump brambles which when we got back to Stable cottage we made into two crumbles, one for tea and one for Farmer Tony and Kathy who run such a wonderful holiday haven in North Devon.

The Ponies at Lower Campscott Farm
Shetland Ponies at Lower Campscott Farm

It is difficult to trace the origins of the crumble, the sweet golden-brown topped pudding, The Oxford Companion to Food suggests the recipe for crumble was developed in the second world war, as an alternative to pastry, using whatever fat was available. Crumbles can be made throughout the year and made with plums, rhubarb, greengages, gooseberries and most popularly apples or apples and soft fruits such as raspberries, blackberries, and brambles.

Crumble is best served hot with lashings of custard, clotted cream or ice cream.

Bramley Apple and Bramble Crumble
Bramley Apple and Bramble Crumble

Apple and Bramble Crumble

Bramley apples can discolour quickly when peeled, to prevent this from happening as you peel the apples, toss the apple in a little freshly squeezed lemon juice which slows down the oxidation and the browning. If you like nuts you can substitute fifty grams of the flour with ground almonds and add a small handful of rolled oats to the crumble mix.

500 gr Bramley Apples ( 3 to 4 medium sized Apples ), peeled and cored

200 gr Blackberries or Brambles, washed and drained

250 gr Self Raising Flour

150 gr Golden Caster Sugar

125 gr cold Jersey Butter

Freshly grated Nutmeg

Heat your oven to 350 F / 180 C / Gas Mark 4. Slice the apples into finger thick chunks and place into a medium-sized heavy-bottomed pan. Add four to five tablespoons of cold water and place onto a gentle heat covered with a lid. After a couple of minutes, the apples will start to soften and break down, take off the lid and give them a stir, add a splash more water if required. Keep stirring until the apples are breaking up but still contains good-sized chunks of whole apple, then add fifty grams of the sugar and a generous grating of nutmeg. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Spoon the apple into a deep sided oven-proof dish and sprinkle over the blackberries or brambles and put to one side. Sift the flour into a large bowl and add the remaining sugar. Cut the butter into cubes and tip in the bowl of flour and sugar and rub it into the flour mix with your fingertips until it resembles rough breadcrumbs. You make crumble in a food processor but don’t overwork or the butter will melt, and the mix will form a paste.

Spread the crumble mix evenly over the fruit and level off, then place the dish on a baking tray and place in the oven for thirty- five to forty minutes, until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for ten or so minutes before serving.

Raspberry and Whisky Cranachan

Happy New Year – My Recipe for Cranachan

I thought my last post of the year should be something suitably festive and suitable for New Year’s Eve, so my mind turned to Hogmanay, in Scotland, they really know how to bring in the New Year in true party fashion. And what could be more Scottish than Cranachan a delicious blend of cream, oats, raspberries, and whisky. I first learned about Cranachan from Donald, the Scottish born pastry chef at the Island Hotel, Tresco. Now I know this isn’t the raspberry season, but it is well worth the expense and you can then make the recipe again during the abundant summer growing season.

Raspberry and Whisky Cranachan
Fresh Raspberry Cranachan with Granola

My Cranachan recipe is entirely my own twist which I first used in a restaurant in Jersey with fresh raspberries folded into cream flavoured with honey, whisky and the crunch of delicious homemade Granola*. As it ticks the alcohol and cream boxes how could I resist Cranachan and well oats lower your cholesterol don’t they?

*You can use the remaining Granola for breakfast.

Cranachan                         serves 4

300 gr fresh Raspberries

350ml double cream ( I use thick Jersey double cream)

6 tablespoons homemade Granola

30 gr Caster Sugar

2 tablespoons Scottish Heather Honey

2 to 3 tablespoons good quality Whisky

Mint and Icing Sugar to garnish

First purée half the raspberries and caster sugar in a blender and sieve. Whisk the double cream until just set, thick Jersey cream really only takes a few turns of the whisk, then gently stir in the honey and whisky. Do not over whip or the mix will separate.

Fold in the raspberry purée in light ripples then serve in bowls alternating layers of the cream, the granola, and the remaining whole raspberries. Chill before serving and top with raspberries, mint, and dust with icing sugar.

Allergens in this recipe are;


Please see the Allergens Page

Pancakes ready to eat

A Really Good Pancake Recipe

Shrove Tuesday is the feast day before Ash Wednesday and the start of the Christian festival of Lent. To many it is celebrated as Pancake Day or in New Orleans and across Latin America, Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday. It is the last blow out in the modern vernacular or celebration before the forty-six days fasting ahead in Lent*. Modern medicine has shown that limited fasting can indeed “cleanse” and detoxify the body. Some traditional non- religious reasons for the Lenten Fast are economic and relate to animal husbandry. For example, Lent fasting allows for the making of cheese, the hatching of chicks and the growth of baby animals.

Across the world as families used up excessive food, local traditions developed such as a feast of salted meat and peas in Iceland, Marzipan filled pastries in Scandinavia and doughnuts in eastern Europe. Many American cities including Chicago celebrate their Polish heritage as Pączki Day. A festival of music, polish specialities and, in particular, Pączki, a type of deep-fried brioche bun filled with plum or rose-hip jam.

Pancakes ready to eat
Pancakes ready for Pancake Day

Historically Shrove Tuesday was a ‘half-holiday’ in England. It started at 11:00 am with the signalling of a church bell. In England street or mob football matches were played, often involving whole communities. Dating back to the 12th century, towns such as Ashbourne, Sedgefield and Alnwick still maintain the tradition. The pancake race is held in many towns and villages, participants with frying pans race through the streets tossing pancakes into the air, catching them in the pan whilst running. The most famous pancake race, at Olney in Buckinghamshire, has been held since 1445. In Scarborough, the town beach front is roped off for racing.

*How to work out the start date for Lent

Really Good Pancakes

I am a purist. Ice cream is for sundaes. Maple syrup for drop scones or griddle cakes ( an American style pancake ) with perhaps a side of very crisp bacon or blueberries. Cream a travesty. Fruit you can leave alone, a pancake requires simply sugar and freshly squeezed orange or lemon juice.

for 8 pancakes

1 Egg and one Egg Yolk
About 250 ml Milk
100 gr Plain Flour
2 tablespoons melted Butter
a small pinch of Salt
clarified Butter for cooking

Place a large mixing bowl on a damp cloth to stop it slipping and moving. Sift in the flour and salt into the bowl. Whisk in the egg and egg yolk and mix in the milk, pouring it in a slow, constant stream.


Eggs, Flour and Milk

When it has achieved the consistency of thin cream, stop adding any more milk and whisk in the butter.


Batter Mix

Brush a hot non-stick frying pan with clarified butter. Using a ladle add a little batter to the pan whilst gently twisting the pan to swirl the batter in a thin coating across the pan surface. Cook for about two minutes then flip over. Cook for a further minute until crisp and golden brown, transfer to a warm plate and serve.


Allergens in this recipe are;

Flour  Eggs Milk

Please see the allergens page

Do you watch The Great British Bake Off? What about this Sticky Date and Banana Pudding Recipe?

My daughter Lilly is getting very good at baking in the kitchen she already knows what ingredients are needed to make pancakes and Victoria sponges. Mum, Sue, is a big fan of eating the results, definitely more than she is of making them, but she really comes into her own with the hit TV program The Great British Bake Off. She is a real fan and is glued to every episode taking on board all of the tips, usually passing them on to me! So in honour of the new season time for my first dessert, this recipe for Sticky Date and Banana Pudding is a family favourite at home and in many of the restaurants that I have worked in. It is a little lighter than some of the all date recipes and I like the addition of a little spice, it is a moist, easy to make sponge, using the creaming method. This is the beating of butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, to incorporate lots of air bubbles before adding eggs and folding in the flour. The Sticky Date and Banana Pudding improves in flavour after a couple of days and goes well with a nice vanilla pod ice cream.

Sticky Date and Banana Pudding
Sticky Date and Banana Pudding

Sticky Date and Banana Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce serves 8 – 10

For the pudding

300 gr Unsalted Butter

360 gr Soft Brown Sugar

5 Free range Eggs

380 gr Plain Flour

25 gr Baking Powder

3 ripe Bananas, mashed

100 gr Dates, destoned and puréed

2 tablespoons Black Treacle

2 Vanilla Pods

½ tsp powdered Ginger

½ tsp ground Cinnamon

For the sauce

50 gr Unsalted Butter

125 gr light Muscovado Sugar

A small 170 gr tin of Evaporated Milk

6 inch deep sided baking tray or 10 small dariole moulds

Soft butter and caster sugar to stop puddings sticking

Preheat your oven to 350 F / 180 C / Gas mark 4 . In a large mixing bowl beat the butter, sugar, and treacle together until the mixture is light and creamy in texture. Slice open the vanilla pods and using a small sharp knife scrape out the seeds and add to the bowl. Keep the pods to make vanilla sugar. Sift the flour, baking powder and spices together and beat the eggs together in a small bowl. Incorporate the egg a spoon at a time, beating into the creamed butter and sugar. If the mixture looks like splitting and curdling add a little flour. When all of the egg is beaten into butter and sugar, fold in the flour using a metal spoon. Finally, mix in the mashed banana and date purée.

Butter and sprinkle on caster sugar to coat the bottom and sides of the baking tray or moulds. Spoon in the mixture trying not to dribble on the sides of the tins, then gently tap the bottoms on to the work surface to remove any air bubbles. Place in the oven and cook for ten minutes then turn down the heat to 300 F /150 C / Gas mark 2 and continue to bake for one hour and twenty minutes. Cover with buttered greaseproof paper if necessary to prevent burning. When a skewer can be inserted in the center of the sponge and it comes out clean remove from the oven and leave to cool for ten minutes before turning out onto cooling racks.

For the Sauce

Heat the butter in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan, over a medium heat, until melted then add the sugar continuously stirring until it is totally dissolved. Bring to the boil and cook for three minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the evaporated milk. Return to the heat and bring up to the boil to serve. The sauce can be made in advance and store in a sealed jar in the refrigerator.

What to Drink? The best choices for the very sweet Sticky Date and Banana Pudding are drinks which emphasise rather than contrast with the sweetness sweet Oloroso sherry, nutty Tawny Port or bittersweet strong Barley Wines but all of them pack an alcoholic punch.

Allergens in this recipe are;

Flour  Eggs Milk  Sulphites

Please see the allergens page