Niamh Doherty

Archive for October, 2010|Monthly archive page

A Comforting Apple and Blackberry Crumble

In Autumn, Baking, Comfort Food, Dessert on October 10, 2010 at 21:45

When the evenings get shorter and the temperatures start to drop, my thoughts turn to woolly jumpers, crackling fires, snuggling down under a cosy blanket with a good book, and I crave hearty food like rib-sticking stews, luscious, gravy-filled pies, and warm, comforting fruit crumbles. This apple and blackberry crumble is one such dish, with the sweet and crunchy topping revealing a bed of soft and delicious fruit. Apple and blackberry is a classic autumnal combination, and one that I’m more than happy to indulge in while both fruits are at their best.

The original recipe calls for cooking apples, but I used regular eating apples and cut out most of the sugar. Normally, I would add cinnamon to an apple crumble, but omitted it here as the blackberries added more than enough extra flavour. This makes a lovely ending to a autumnal Sunday lunch when served, still warm, with vanilla ice-cream, softly-whipped cream, or a blob of crème fraiche…woolly jumper and crackling fire optional.

Apple and Blackberry Crumble (taken from Rachel’s Favourite Food, by Rachel Allen)

Serves 6


3-4 large cooking apples (or 4-5 eating apples), peeled, cored and cut into large chunks

1 tbsp water

2-3 tbsp sugar (you can cut this down to about 1/2 tbsp of sugar if using eating apples)

225g blackberries (frozen is fine)

For the crumble:

175g plain white flour

75g cold butter, cut into chunks

75g demerara sugar


1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius. Put the apple chunks, water and sugar into a saucepan over a low heat and cook until the apples are soft and pulpy – about 10 minutes. If using eating apples, they won’t break down as much, so cook them until they are soft to the point of a knife. While the apples are cooking, stir every minute or so to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Taste and add more sugar if needed, before transferring to a pie dish (or to several small ramekins) to cool slightly. Pop the blackberries onto the cooked apple at this point.

2. To make the crumble, rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Don’t rub it in too much however, as the crumble won’t be crunchy if you do. Add the sugar into the crumble topping and mix. Sprinkle the crumble mixture on top of the apple and blackberries.

3. Bake for 15 minutes for small crumbles, or 30-45 minutes for larger crumbles. Remove from the oven when the crumble is cooked and golden. Serve whilst still warm, with cream, vanilla ice-cream or crème fraiche.

A Baked Oatmeal for Autumn

In Baking, Breakfast on October 3, 2010 at 22:01

I know, I know – I haven’t posted for almost two months; things have been utterly hectic. After flitting about aimlessly all summer, August hit, and suddenly the following eight weekends were packed solid. Although I enjoyed every minute of my holidaying, socialising and time-with-friends spending, I could feel autumn beckoning and couldn’t wait for October, with its promise of a weekend spent in my deeply unsexy but oh-so-comfy flannel jammies, sleeping late under piles of woolly blankets, eating warm, leisurely breakfasts, and happily pottering about the house. Finally, autumn is here, with its crunchy, burnt orange leaves underfoot, cooler mornings which necessitate the digging out of winter coats from the back of the wardrobe, and cravings for pies, stews, and the warmth of pumpkin-pie spiced baked goods. Saturday morning, with its grey skies and torrential rain, provided a guilt-free opportunity for some pyjama-clad stoveside pottering, and a bowl of this delicious baked oatmeal made for the perfect autumnal breakfast.

I love porridge on winter mornings, but had never thought of baking it until I saw a recent post on one of my favourite food blogs, Joy the Baker. Any of the recipes I’ve tried from her site have been delicious, so I couldn’t wait to try her take on Baked Oatmeal. Porridge oats are mixed with brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, bound with egg, milk and melted butter, and baked until golden brown and fragrant. It takes five minutes to throw together, and a mere 25 minutes to bake – giving you plenty of time to pop out for the papers, take a shower, or snuggle your still-in-bed other half. The texture is somewhere between a giant oatmeal cookie, a flapjack, and a cake…and utterly compelling. Not only is this dish perfect for weekends, but it keeps well, making a great weekday breakfast after a quick spin in the microwave – just knowing that this is waiting for me in the kitchen is enough to get me out of bed on a Monday morning. I love this equally with ice-cold milk, chopped pecans and dried cranberries; sweet blackberry coulis and natural yoghurt; and with warm milk and raisins scattered over the top. Next time, I’m going to top it with creme fraiche and cinnamon-breathed applesauce – the perfect autumnal waker-upper.

Baked Oatmeal (from Joy the Baker)

Serves 4 greedy people


1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup milk (any fat content is fine)

1/4 cup melted butter

1 large egg

splash of vanilla extract


1. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celcius.

2. Whisk together the oats, sugar, cinnamon and baking powder in a bowl.  Whisk together the milk, butter, egg and vanilla extract (for ease of addition, and to avoid any early-morning kitchen mishaps, I mix the wet ingredients up in a jug as opposed to a bowl).  Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well. 

3. Pour the mixture into a lightly greased 9-inch pie dish.  Place in the centre of the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, until lightly firm to the touch. If the oatmeal wobbles when you shake the dish slightly, give it another few minutes in the oven.

4. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool for 5 minutes before spooning it into serving bowls.  Top with whatever takes your fancy, and enjoy!