Look at the pretty fruit we foraged!
Okay… we may have foraged the figs from a shop but we did pick the blackberries.
I would have liked a non recipe based post to balance out all the foody shizzle of late. But I’m afraid other projects are a little behind schedule; what with the school holidays getting in the way. The thing is, when we are at home, we need to keep doing the eating, so we also have to keep making with the food.
Then the blackberries were all “Ooh, look at us! We’re all fruity and abundant this year. Don’t you want to pick us and make the most of our free bounty?”
I told them I didn’t, but then Twitter chimed in and agreed that I must. Blackberry picking therefore became an extra activity for me and George in his last week before heading off to ‘big school’. I can’t help but think that next year he might not be up for fruit-picking-with-Mum, so we gathered the brambles while we may. We scavenged along our local lanes with a twee little basket getting nettled and prickled in the process, whilst Ernie gathered all the low hanging fruit. Ern loves a blackberry.
So here we are; a house of jam and cake.
If you have never made jam before it’s not as complicated as it’s sometimes made out to be. Well it isn’t when I make it, although I do insist on de-seeding the fruit. I don’t like pips, especially blackberry pips so I sieve them out. A bit of a faff but it’s worth it for my part.
The cake idea came to me as I woke up this morning. I leapt out of bed declaring that I wanted some sort of breakfast cake.
Is that even a thing?
It’s butter free, has yoghurt in and a few oats sprinkled on top. There’s fruit in there too so in my book that makes it a cake you can eat for breakfast. It’s exceedingly good smeared with the jam and maybe even some butter.
Do get out there and make the most of the blackberries this year, even if you just thrust them into the freezer for future blackberry and apple crumbles. The ones I used in the cake were straight from the freezer, that’s why they look all frosty in the photo.
Seedless Blackberry Jam
Being pip-free does not make this a true ‘bramble jelly’ as that would mean allowing the juice to sit in a jelly bag overnight to make a very clear syrup like I do with redcurrant jelly or pear jelly. This is just a seedless jam with a strong brambley flavour and the added tang of lime.
1.5 Kg Blackberries
‘About’ 1Kg Preserving Sugar
2 Limes – or lemons
Scale up or down the above depending on how many berries you find.
Put some small saucers in the freezer for testing the jam.
Thoroughly wash a couple of jam jars and sterilise with boiling water or by placing them in a low oven for 15 minutes.
Cook the blackberries and the juice of the limes in a large pan.
After 10-15 minutes, they should squash easily with a spoon.
In batches push the purple pulp through a sieve. I do this in two stages, using a conical, small hole colander and a ladle for the first stage, then I pour it through a sieve into a measuring jug to get out every last pip.
Measure the quantity of juice, you will need 1 pound of sugar for each pint of juice.
YES – I know I am mixing metric and imperial. Sorry about that.
Pour the juice back into the pan and add the requisite amount of sugar.
Simmer very gently until all the grains of sugar have dissolved.
Turn up the heat and boil hard and fast for about 10 minutes.
It will get more syrupy as the water boils out of it.
A jelly needs to reach about 105°c for a set but don’t worry if you don’t have a jam thermometer.
Just spoon half a teaspoon of jam on a cold saucer, spread it out to cool and if the jam surface wrinkles when you push it with your finger, it has reached its set point. Don’t go too far or you will end up with blackberry toffee.
If that happens – you may be able to salvage it like my Damson in Distress post.
Pour into your clean jars and leave to set overnight.
Fig and Blackberry Breakfast Cake
Butter and line a 2lb Loaf tin with a strip of baking parchment.
Preheat the oven to 175-180°c.
You make this like a giant easy mixing muffin, with wet ingredients getting stirred into dry.
I add a note here that having said “I don’t like pips” this cake is full of them! Both crunchy fig pips and blackberry seeds but I couldn’t resist using them because a) I had them and b) they are so pretty. I love the cake but next time I’d perhaps swap the fruit to something else. I’d maybe use some dates or sultanas within, then top it with slices of pear or peach. Also make sure you push the fruit into the cake mix more than I did to ‘bed it in’.
200g Self Raising Flour
70g Wholemeal Flour
150g Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
2 pinches of salt
2 Large Eggs
90g (2 large tbsp) Greek Yoghurt
90ml Sunflower Oil
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
Zest of a Lemon
3 Fresh Figs (or something less pipsome)
A Handful of Blackberries – frozen of fresh
Some Brown Sugar, Rolled Oats and Honey for topping
Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl.
Mix the wet ingredients together in a jug.
Pour the wet into the dry and stir well.
Take 8 nice slices from the centre of the figs and chop the rest into chunks.
Stir the fig chunks and the blackberries into the cake mix.
Pour into the cake tin and sprinkle with oats.
Top with the fig slices and sprinkle over a handful of brown sugar.
Bake for 55 minutes, drizzle on a little honey and give it 5 minutes more.
It’s done when a skewer comes out clean.
Cool for 10 minutes in the tin then cool fully on a cooling rack.
Eat with butter or jam…or both. Oh – or with more greek yoghurt and honey.