Saturday, August 30, 2014

A Recipe for Blackberry, Apple & Almond Cake...

The end of summer is nigh... The sun streaming through the window has changed from the stark, bright light of high summer (highlighting my cleaning imperfections) to bathing everything it hits in a golden hue. My mind is slowly turning from salads to comfort foods. This year, I feel more than ever that fall is just around the corner. After a mild summer, I'm already seeing the leaves change colour and, in some cases, slowly falling onto my overgrown, raggedy garden.
The produce of fall is gradually making an appearance at the local farmers market too... squashes, blackberries and, today, apples from upstate New York, piled high at the entrance...
Now, I'm on a bit of a baking kick at the moment, and so, I decided to bag me up some apples, pick up a punnet of blackberries, and tootle back home to make my favourite fall cake... Apple, blackberry, and almond cake...

Mmm... What a delicious combination (although I could add almonds to anything and an instant love affair would ensue). And blackberries, are synonymous with autumn... Once upon a time, I would have left my house with an old ice-cream tub, wandered down the lane, and, in no time, filled it with blackberries from the hedgerows... but that that was back in Blighty... Here, in my part of New Jersey, they don't grow with such free abandonment... and so, I have to make do with blackberries sold at the local farmers market... they're still local, but paid for, and I've not had the joy of picking them and popping a few (several) in my mouth along the way!

This recipe was originally taken from one of my old Sainsbury's calendars... I slightly adapted it to include more marzipan (have I mentioned that I love, love, love marzipan)... Seriously, I could just eat the whole packet in one go... no guilt... nothing! It's really easy to make and a nice tea time treat, with a cuppa. Mmmm, the taste of fall...

Anyhoo, I just wanted to share this recipe... just in case you had a glut of blackberries and apples and were looking for recipe ideas.
Take care.

Blackberry, Apple & Almond Cake Recipe

2 small apples (peeled, cored & thinly sliced)
100g blackberries
juice 1/2 lemon
100g marzipan (cut into small cubes)
100g unsalted butter (softened)
2 eggs (room temperature)
1 tsp almond extract
150g self raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
25g of flaked almonds

Preheat oven to 160C / 320F. 
Grease and baseline a 8 inch cake tin.
Put the apples and blackberries in a bowl and squeeze over the lemon juice. Add the cubed marzipan to the fruit mixture and stir through.

Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add the almond extract and beat.
Add the flour and baking powder, combine thoroughly.

Spread half of the prepared cake mixture to the bottom of the cake tin.
Top with 3/4 of fruit mixture.
Layer the remaining cake mixture on top and the rest of the fruit.
Sprinkle the almonds over the top of the cake.

Bake in the oven for around 50 minutes or until the cake mixture is cooked through. (I check by sticking a knife into the centre and making sure it comes out clean).
Leave the cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a plate.

Friday, February 7, 2014

I ♥ hearts...

I've always been told that I am a girl who wears her heart on her sleeve, but do you know what? Looking around this little old place, not only do I wear my heart on my sleeve, I also manage to shoehorn it into every possible room.

Now, my little heart obsession began quite a while ago, even before the shabby chic era... before it became uber-trendy to stamp a heart onto anything that doesn't move.

So, now here I am in a heart-filled home...

...peeking out of pots, adorning the front of pottery... I even own a heart-shaped triangle! Is it even called a triangle once it's no longer triangle-shaped?? Who knows? But, I have one..

 Anyhoo, where am I going with this post? Ah, yes, hearts... have they become hackneyed? Have we gone a heart too far?

Should I start reigning the hearts in?? It wasn't until I started to take these pictures that I truly realised how many hearts had infiltrated this tiny place (yes, my home is tiny, so it's not as though they are spread out over distance).

The problem is, these little hearts all hold a place in my heart (pardon the pun). They were brought on trips to Seattle, relaxing breaks at the cabin, afternoon teas with my family back in Blighty, and even sewn with my own fair hands...

So, I guess I couldn't lose a single one of them. Each one tells a little story. Personal to me and my family. Possessions can be one-offs or mass-produced, for me it is the story that comes along with them that matters.

Interior designers are always looking for the next big thing, or casting dispersion on someone's home because it's not cohesive, it's or too this or too that.... when, in fact, if a home only sings to those who live in it, that's okay, because it is their home..

We have to remember that our home is a reflection of who we are and, in my case, I am a girl who wears her heart on her sleeve.

Happy weekend all!

Friday, January 31, 2014


Last week was my birthday. I've entered the final year of my thirties... I always feared coming up to the big 4-0, but I think I've begun to accept that wrinkles will happen, skin will sag, and weight will become ever more difficult to shift... and so, with this new found acceptance, I feel confident. Confident in the person I have finally grown into... or should that read growing into (I guess we never stop growing, or we should try not to). I finally like me, warts and all. It took me 39 years to get to this version of me and it was a pretty ropey journey, with a few older versions that I would like to brush under the rug, but this nudging-40 version knows what she likes and is not afraid to stick her stake in the ground and say 'This is me'.

Anyhoo, I was sat on the couch the other day, enjoying a quick cuppa before picking up the kids... the sunlight was streaming through the blinds and bathing the room in it's rays... and it made me smile. It's been so very cold here lately and these beautiful chinks of light made me remember that spring is just around the corner and every day we are treated to an extra minute of precious daylight... and that, my dears, is something to be happy about!
Take care all.
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