For me, there is nothing quite like heading down to the orchard, and foraging around for what is perfectly ripe and ready for picking. Eating fruit straight from the tree does something for the soul, connects me with nature and makes me feel like life is a little more balanced.
So much of what we consume is store bought, however, we are the lucky few because we have the privilege ok understanding the seasonality of food. We know what is best consumed and when – simply by heading out to the back garden and seeing what is ready.
My last forage took me on a journey back to my childhood, with memories of stained hands, a sore belly and ice cream punnets filled to the brim with deep coloured delicious mulberries. Eat them slightly under ripe for a zing, or plump and juicy for a delicious sweetness. Either way the humble mulberry makes my heart sing, especially when folded into pastry and finished off with a dollop of thick cream. My pleasure.
Grandma’s Bramble Cake
200 g plain flour
200g self-raising flour
½ teaspoon salt
200g larb (at room temperature)
¾ cup cold water
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cold water
1/3-1/2 cup sugar (depends on sweetness of fruit)
60g softened unsalted butter
Larb Pastry Method
Sift flours and salt together, then rub larb in quickly. Make a well in the centre and work in water. Knead for 2-3 minutes until you have springy, elastic dough. Form into a ball and chill for 20 minutes before rolling out. There is no need to chill the pastry once the pie plate has been lined, or blind bake.
Bramble Cake Method
Preheat oven to 200C. Roll two-thirds of pastry into a round 26cm in diameter. Transfer to a slightly larger ovenproof pie plate. Roll remaining dough into a 12cm round. The pastry should be around 6mm thick.
Tip fruit into lined pie plate. Push pastry snugly around fruit leaving an overhang like a pastry that looks like a skirt. The edges should lean in, containing the fruit like a wall. Rest the small pastry round on top. Do not seal the lid or press it down heavily as it has to be removed after baking. Put pie plate on a baking tray with a rim in case all the delicious juices run. Whisk egg, salt and cold water together. Brush pastry with the egg wash.
Bake for 25 minutes until pastry is golden brown. Take cake from the oven, and using a spatula, carefully lever off the lid. Tip in sugar and butter. Replace the lid and leave in a warm place for at least 15 minutes and up to 30 minutes before cutting into wedges. You will need a spoon and a pie lifter to ensure you catch all the delicious juices when serving. Serve with thickened cream.
Source: The Cooks Companion, Stephanie Alexander
Author: Anna Hanson – city girl by week, moonlighting as country girl on the weekends
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