I don’t know if anyone else feels they do this too, but I have a habit of flitting from missing what has gone to getting excited about what is to come, which means I can miss out on the ‘right now’. I am trying to stay observant of the present, this blog and engaging in the activities I share is helping me to do that.
A meaningful marker in my year is when the blackberries appear on bramble bushes. This to me is a sign that the summer season is fading and the autumn season is drawing near. So that I don’t go full steam ahead into autumn or start saying farewell to the summer just yet, I thought I would get out there with the blackberries that border these seasons and enjoy the in-betweeness
Blackberry foraging is such a joy as the fruits are easy to find, easy to pick and then there is so much you can make with them afterwards. My Grandma was the first person to take me blackberry hunting, she used to have a lane that ran down the back of where she lived that had the biggest blackest berries. She would take a walking stick, even though she never used it to walk with, just so she could hook the high up brambles that no one else could reach! We would then make apple and blackberry plate pie which I thought I would share with you.
By the way, this River Cottage Hedgerow book is brilliant and a great one to take on walks. It shares seasonal foraging opportunities and highlights what is in season so that you don’t have to just wait for the blackberries to come around.
A plate pie is one that is made in a shallow dish or plate and topped with shortcrust pastry. This means that it doesn’t have a pastry base, so there is no blind baking and the fruits can get nicely soft without creating a wet pastry base.
There are no measurements for this recipe other than the shortcrust pastry, as it will depend totally on your blackberry haul and the size of your plate. So hold on to your hats as there are a few variables, which for some of you out there will be a tonic, and for those that need a detailed recipe…embrace the randomness!
Blackberry and Apple plate pie
Blackberries (foraged if you can) -I tend to work on the principle of half the amount of blackberries to apples, as it gives the best balance of texture and flavour.
Apples – I like Bramley apples best, but any variety you have will work, remember the above ratio – so you will need double the weight of the blackberries
Caster sugar – This also varies depending on how sweet your apples are. I tend to start with 3 tablespoons, but if your apples taste sweet then reduce this or vice versa.
For the sweet shortcrust pastry
250g plain flour
125g unsalted butter, cubed
50g icing sugar
1 large egg, beaten (plus one beaten egg for brushing on top)
zest of citrus fruit (optional)
First make the shortcrust pastry. Sift the flour and icing sugar into a food processor and add the cubed butter. Pulse in the food processor until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the beaten egg and citrus zest (if using) blend again until the pastry forms a ball and starts to come away from the edge of the bowl. If the mixture seems too dry then just add dash of milk to bring it together.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and press into a flat ball, clingfilm this and pop it in the fridge for an hour to chill.
Whilst the pastry is chilling you can get on with the filling. Peel and core the apples and cut them into 1cm slices. Thoroughly wash the blackberries and remove any remaining bits of stalk.
Put the fruit into a glass or ceramic pie dish, or a plate, blackberries react to tin pie dishes and create a bit of a metallic flavour. Mix the fruits together so there is an even spread and scatter the caster sugar over the fruit.
Once your pastry has cooled, remove it from the fridge and roll out to 5mm thickness. I like to create a lattice work over the fruit so that I can then use it as a base framework to lay lots of lovely cut out pastry shapes on top. To create the lattice, cut 1cm wide strips from the pastry and lay them over the fruit left to right, about 1 cm apart. Then do the same again from top to bottom.
Over lap one strip of pastry over the next strip and then under the next strip and then over…you get the gist! Brush a little beaten egg around the lip of the pie dish and lightly press down the pastry strip ends to hold them in place. Now you have a lattice to build upon.
With the rest of the shortcrust pastry, roll it out to 5mm again and use any shape cutter you like to create some shapes to stick on top. I went for tree leaves to represent the apple tree and the bramble bush.
When you have all your shapes cut out, stick them onto the pastry lattice by using a dab of beaten egg underneath your shape to allow it to adhere to the pastry. Layer the shapes up and cover the lattice until you are happy with your design. Finally brush the pastry shapes all over and scatter a bit of sugar over the top and put it in the oven on 180ºC for approximately 25 minutes, or until the top is golden and the fruit is bubbling underneath (the timing may vary depending on your pie size)
Remove the pie form the oven and serve whilst it is still warm. Serve with ice cream, custard, or my favourite – double cream.
There are still 3 more weeks of summer, so I shall bring you three more ways to embrace the summer season before we gallop into all the golden and russet colours of autumn. Whoops, must stay in the moment! Have a lovely weekend