Autumn is officially here – the leaves are falling, scarves are calling, and the hearty dishes are definitely on the menu! As promised, I’m back with an update on how I’m settling into my final year at university and my progress with those goals I set, as well as my favourite new recipes from the recent apple harvest!
Harvest has to be one of my favourite times of the year – it’s a time when you really come to appreciate how incredible the environment is. We’re lucky here at Loughborough University in that we have a lot of fruits and vegetables that grow naturally on campus. Every Autumn there’s an abundance of apples to pick, and a huge range of seasonal fruits and vegetables are grown by our very own Landscaping and Gardening Society. I’ve just become a member of this society and had my first gardening session a few days ago. The members welcomed me to the communal garden, where a homely shed, vast allotment and compost heap provide the nurturing home for some of the best organic foods I’ve ever tasted! In only a couple of hours I shelled fresh walnuts, made bay cuttings, hung rosemary to dry, learnt so many gardening and cooking tips, and tried some delicious homemade soups (of course featuring an array of garden-grown ingredients). The ethos of the society is simple – look after the earth, and the earth looks after you. It’s a simple, but very meaningful outlook to take. I felt so at home with them, and couldn’t wait to get involved in the rest of the harvest activities that were to come!
Harvest Day featured a number of themed activities: apple pressing to make fresh juice, pumpkin carving, soup lunch, children’s workshops and foraging…But the day wouldn’t have been complete without an apple-themed Bake Off, followed by a huge community feast on the entries! It was a great day celebrating the new season, and definitely put me in good spirits! Here are just a few of my favourite pictures from the Harvest events:
Scenes from the Loughborough Garden and Harvest Festival
Ready, Set, Bake!
So I couldn’t resist submitting a couple of entries to the Apple Bake Off, and the feedback was so positive (by the time I got to the feast my cake had almost gone!)! Bake Off entries were an apple, walnut and date loaf (apples and walnuts were campus-grown) and a vegan apple and date crumble traybake. Both were demolished, and due to popular demand I’ll be posting the recipes here! You’ll also find the recipes for my apple and sultana crumble muffins below, which were also a big hit in the house.
Vegan Apple and Date Crumble Bars (Serves 12)
- 100g oats
- 20g melted coconut oil
- 50g cup maple syrup
- 20g nuts of choice
- 15g seeds (any, but pumpkin/sunflower recommended)
- 25g flour
Apple and date filling
- 2 peeled, chopped apples
- 50g pitted dates, chopped
- 100ml water
- 1tsp cinnamon
- 50g ground oats
- 50g flour
- 10g melted coconut oil
- 10g chopped nuts
- 15g maple syrup
- Blend all ingredient for the base in a food processor until well-combined
- Add filling ingredients to a saucepan and simmer until apples have begun to soften, stirring occasionally
- In a mixing bowl, combine the topping ingredients and mix until a light crumble with some clusters is formed
- Spread the base onto a lined, deep baking tray, pressing firmly
- Add the topping and spread evenly to form a thick layer
- Sprinkle the topping over, ensuring that the spread is even
- Bake for 25mins at 200C until golden brown
- Allow to cool slightly before dividing into 12 portions and sharing with friends and family!
Apple and Sultana Crumble Muffins (Makes 6)
- 1 cup barley flakes or oats, ground to a flour
- 1 cup self-raising flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 cup ricotta
- 2 eggs
- 1 chopped and peeled apple
- 2 tbsp sultanas
- 1tsp cinammon
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 2tbsp crumble topping (see above recipe)
- Cook the apples, sultanas and cinnamon in 50ml water until the apples have softened
- Either blitz remaining ingredients (minus the crumble mix) together in a food processor, or in a mixing bowl whisk together the maple syrup, eggs and ricotta, followed by the dry ingredients (gradually folded in).
- Divide the majority of the mixture between six lined muffin cases, reserving a little.
- Top each muffin with a heaped spoonful of the apple mixture, followed by a final spoon of the cake mixture to cover.
- Sprinkle over a little of the crumble mixture to finish, then bake for 20-25mins until risen and golden.
- When still warm, make a few holes in each muffin with a skewer, then drizzle over 1tsp maple syrup to finish
There’s a few adjustments I’d like to make to the apple loaf I made for the Apple Bake Off to make it even tastier, so look out for the recipe on my next post!
For now, enjoy all of the wonderful things that Autumn has to offer, and get busy baking! As always, feel free to get in touch with any comments or questions!