We’ve had a pot of sloes in the fridge destined for Sloe Gin but the requisite gin has yet to be bought. Needing to use them up, I wondered if baking would make these mouth-puckeringly sour fruit more edible.
So I added the sloes to an oat-based cake I’ve been trying out using Grown in Totnes oats. Surprisingly they lost much of their astringent sharpness and were a lovely addition to this cake which I’ve also made with blackberry and apple and roasted rhubarb.
If de-stoning sloe sounds way too fiddly, you could just use apple in the cake. Then make a simple syrup with the sloes and pour over the top. As the last wild fruit of the season, it feels good to use what we have growing around us.
- 150g oats
- 150ml milk (any kind)
- 175g sugar
- 175g butter
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 175g flour (I used spelt)
- 3tsp baking powder
- 2-300g apple, chopped
- 100g sloes, stones removed
- Put the oats in a bowl and cover with the milk. Leave to soak for an hour or so, or overnight
- Preheat the oven to 180°C
- Cream the butter and sugar
- Add the eggs and beat together
- Add the flour and baking powder and mix well
- Fold in the apple and sloes
- Pour the batter into a large prepared cake tin (22cm). Top with sliced apple or sloes.
- Bake for 1hr – 1&1/4 hrs or until a skewer comes out clean
- Leave to cool slightly before turning out
A little bit more…..
If you’ve forgotten to get the butter out of the fridge, as I frequently do, you could also melt the butter with the sugar in a pan over a gentle heat first. Leave to cool slightly before adding the eggs then continue as above
Any fruit can be used, sharp flavours work well with the oats
Vanilla, cinnamon or ginger add lovely additional flavours
This works well as a tray bake, halving the baking time to around 30mins
Beans and pulses are nutritious, economical and I think they are delicious and incredibly versatile. But a quick look at my supplies reveals that my lentils, chickpeas, adzuki beans and so on have been imported from far-flung places: USA, Turkey and China. Hodmedods was set up five years ago to grow indigenous pulses and packs of their UK grown carlin peas sit in my cupboard, too. But even better, local project Grown in Totnes has started producing dried whole green peas grown just down the road from me. I’ve been using them in lots of different recipes.
This pâté is delicious on some homemade oatcakes, and if you have a batch of cooked peas it is so quick and easy to put together. Otherwise, it’s a good excuse to soak some peas.
- 200g cooked peas
- 3-4tbs cooked apple or more depending on how much of a sweet note you’d like
- 40g butter
- 15 sage leaves
- Melt the butter in a small pan until sizzling
- Add the sage leaves and cook, swirling the pan to coat the leaves until crispy, for around 4-5 minutes. Reserve a few leaves and tablespoon of butter to garnish.
- Blitz the peas, apple, butter and sage in a blender, keep adding a little water (or cooking water from the peas) until you achieve a soft consistency
- Season well with salt and pepper
- Top with the reserved butter and leaves
With the exception of the salt and pepper, I made this with 100% local ingredients, peas from Dartington, apples from my neighbour, butter from Riverford and sage from my garden!
A little bit more….
- Replace the butter with olive oil and add nutritional yeast for a vegan version
- Include some gently fried until soft onion, celery or leek
- Raw apple could be used in place of cooked
- Add some more herbs when blending, a little parsley, thyme and/or marjoram
- A little soft cheese in the mix is lovely
- If using freshly cooked peas, this freezes beautifully
The nights are drawing in. The persimmon trees have dropped their leaves meaning it is time to harvest. The momiji (Japanese maple) have turned brilliant shades of red and yellow adding to the array of autumn colours.
October has been a month of sunny days with chilly nights that leave a heavy dew in the morning that is lit up as the sun streams through though the valleys. The leaves are starting to turn and persimmons are ripening on the trees. Rice straw is left to dry in bundles on bamboo poles or fences.
There are many festivals to give thanks and appreciation for the rice harvest. Local shrines hold mochi (dried rice balls) throwing events where locals scramble to catch mochi tossed by shrine maidens and priests, and come away with brimming bags full.
The intense heat and shrill scream of the cicadas in August makes way to the mellow chirp of grasshoppers. The rice has turned a golden yellow green and the days are punctuated by the beep beep beep of reversing rice harvesters as they manouver around the small rice fields. Figs are in season, hiding amongst large lobed leaves. Some mornings I wake to find figs left to sweeten on the branches have disappeared overnight, probably in the hands of monkeys.
Many still harvest by hand