blackberrycakeIt’s high foraging season, so I’ll do my best to cram in as many ideas as possible to the blog this month! Wait… we’re half way through September already? Conversely I’m actually in Spring cleaning mode, sorted & purged my wardrobe, cleaned my room, windows open, golden sunlight & crisp autumn air flowing through the house. Appropriately, I came across this recently:

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” – Albert Camus

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I didn’t have to venture very far for this particular forage… the hazelnut trees along the side of the road up to ‘Mole End’ where we live are bombarding the place with hazelnuts, creating quite the percussion section when you drive off anywhere! So I made a cup of tea, took out a tin, and within 10 minutes had quite a hoard. Getting into them is another matter… how do squirrels manage it so well? A nutcracker is handy – I bought one specially as, although you can get into them using a mallet, finding the pieces afterwards is tricky.

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I’m completely and utterly addicted to this wonderful magazine called “The Simple Things”, but which I nickname “the magazine of Charlie”… it’s full of country things, adventures, crafting… if you like this blog then just buy it and see. Plus this month had an article on decluttering, so perhaps I’m not the only autumn cleaner after all. I end up trying out recipes every month, and as I have a glut of hazelnuts AND blackberries, I thought I’d adapt one of their recipes and share it here. I mainly adapted it to suit the ingredients I had in the cupboard, but I’d also adjust your baking time by keeping an eye on it and checking with a skewer to see whether it’s done – mine took a lot longer to cook than the recipe suggested.

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Recipe – Blackberry & Hazelnut Chocolate Cake

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C & line a round cake tin (about 23cm). Cream together 125g butter, 200g sugar & 1 tsp vanilla extract until pale & fluffy. Beat together 3 eggs in a separate bowl or mug, and add very gradually while whisking to the butter mixture, until you have a smooth, pale mix. If it curdles add a little flour.

Separately, combine 250g of self-raising flour, ground almonds, or a mix of the two (I also added a bit of desiccated coconut to this), 1tsp baking powder, 1-2 tsp of your favourite spices (I used a 4-spice mix), half a cup or so of chopped hazelnuts, and a pinch of salt. With a large metal spoon, fold this into the rest of your mixture until smooth. Stir in 200g fresh blackberries and spoon into your cake tin.

Bake for 30-45 mins (cover with foil if leaving over 30 mins) and then cool on a cooling rack. For the icing I mixed together some icing sugar, water & 100% cocoa powder.

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