I love autumn. Autumn autumn autumn, you are my favourite season by far. Cycling in to work on crisp, bright October mornings makes me happy. Leaves changing colour, winter setting in. But the best part is the fruit. Autumnal fruits – blackberries, apples, plums, pears (as well as many more) are fruits which I associate with my childhood – memories of my mum making plum jam and bramble jelly from the fruit in our garden, picking up apples to make apple pies (although there were always far more apples in our garden than we could ever use), and waiting to see if the pear tree would give any fruit that year (most years it didn’t, but when it did, it was good).
I always took autumn fruit for granted, as something that just came with my house. But many years ago the plum tree was cut down, and about a month ago I moved out, missing the blackberries completely, without apples readily available, and not even knowing if the pear tree gave us any fruit this year. So I’ve had to make my own autumn fruit season instead. My first discovery were figs. Figs are something which I have always been unsure of – something which until a few weeks I don’t think I had ever consumed (which meant that I kind of assumed I wouldn’t like them). But figs are GREAT. The first time I bought them I didn’t know whether they were supposed to be soft or not, so picking them out from the market was an interesting process (I decided in the end that as the majority of them seemed to be squidgy, it was reasonable to assume they were supposed to be like that). I took them home and baked them in honey for 10-15 minutes and then ate them with goat’s cheese. So good. After that I made fig jam, which I’ve yet to try, but looked pretty good (and was super easy, my first jam-making experience).
Plum and pear crumble is something else I have been making and consuming on a reasonably regular basis, and I’m planning on making more pear based things in the near future.
Greengages, which are technically only in season during August and September, are still hanging around on my local market, which makes me so happy, because greengages are one of my favourite fruits, but they’re so rarely available to me. I found an excellent recipe for greengage and elderflower muffins in my Scandilicious recipe book, and they were fantastic. The recipe says you can substitute the greengages for plums, which I’m going to try next (I have a lot of elderflower cordial to use up).
In other news, today I registered myself as a sole trader. I am working through applications for the council to come and check my kitchen. I started a Facebook page. Self-promotion is one of my failings in life, so I don’t know how much it will be used, but if you want to like me, click here. All these things feel equally overwhelming and exciting, and I’m not sure where the next few months will lead, but hopefully they will be mostly good. Watch this space.
Greengage and Elderflower Muffins
12 ripe greengages
40ml elderflower cordial
3 medium eggs, beaten
150g caster sugar
200g plain flour
50g ground almonds
1 & 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarb of soda
1/4 tsp salt
200g creme fraiche
50g butter, melted
1. Line a muffin tray with paper cases and preheat the oven to 220C/Gas 7.
2. Quarter the greengages, remove the stones and place in a bowl. Drizzle the elderflower cordial over them, stirring to ensure they’re well coated.
3. Mix the eggs and sugar together. Put the flour, ground almonds, raising agents and salt in a large bowl and stir to distribute the raising agents evenly. Make a well in the middle and pour in the egg mixture, the creme fraiche and melted butter. Stir 4-5 times to mix everything together, and then tip in the greengages in their elderflower cordial. Mix 4-5 times more. Don’t overmix the batter.
4. Fill the cases three-quarters full, then sprinkle extra sugar on top (brown is definitely best).
5. Bake on the upper-middle shelf for 10 mins before turning the heat down to 190C/Gas 5 and baking for a further 5-10 mins or until the muffins have risen well and are brown on top. Cool on a wire rack. These keep for a couple of days in an airtight container, or you can freeze them in foil for a couple of months – reheat from frozen at 150C/Gas 2 for 15mins.