Apple and bramble crumble

Autumn is a yucky time of year – the nights start drawing in, the weather gets properly minging with lots of grey skies and windy days, leaves fall off the trees making the likeliness of standing in dog poo a whole lot more likely as it’s hidden under all those mulchy leaves! What to do? Bring out the comfort food, and take advantage of the season’s harvest! This recipe should serve about 6-9 people depending on how big you make your portion sizes.20131012-233555.jpg

For fruit filling:

1 large cooking apple (or 2 medium ones)

2 punnets of blackberries (AKA brambles!)

25g light muscovado sugar

25g golden caster sugar

For the crumble:

175g plain flour

75g golden caster sugar

100g unsalted butter


Preheat your oven to 180°C (fan assisted oven) 200°C (normal oven)

Grease your pyrex dish with a teeny bit of butter (this will make it your crumble way easier to extract and your dish easier to clean later!)

To make the crumble mix, chop your butter into smaller pieces, then put your butter, flour and sugar in a mixing bowl. Rub it all together with your hands until it all looks like breadcrumbs, then set to one side…

Rinse your fruit. Peel and chop your apple(s) into bite size pieces. Make sure you’ve got no leaves or anything attached to your blackberries!

Spread fruit evenly in the pyrex dish, sprinkle your sugar over the fruit.

Sprinkle your crumble mixture over the fruit til it is completely covered.

Bake in the oven for about 35 minutes until the crumble is golden and fruit is bubbling. It might need 5-10 minutes longer depending on your oven.

Bring out leave to cool a little bit, then serve with cream or ice cream (or whatever you like).

This can also be split into portions and frozen – that’s if none of your friends or relatives are helping you to eat it that day! ;)

Tomato & Basil Soup


Garlic infused olive oil
2 sticks of celery
1 carrot
1 handful of fresh basil leaves
10 large ripe vine tomatoes
1 litre vegetable stock


Rinse your tomatoes, celery, carrot and basil.

Peel and chop your carrot, chop the celery and basil.

Put your carrot, celery and basil in your soup pot and coat with your garlic olive oil. Braise the vegetables for about 15 minutes until soft.

Chop your tomatoes and then add these to the rest of the vegetables, sprinkle a little salt and pepper then stir to mix together, then add the vegetable stock.

Leave to simmer for about 30 minutes.

Once the vegetables are soft and your soup is to your taste (you can add more seasoning i.e. salt, pepper, basil as you see fit to), turn off the heat then leave to cool.

Once it is cool enough you can blend with a handblender until smooth.

This soup makes approximately 6-7 servings of soup – so you can make for your family, or keep some to eat and freeze some for a later date. You can also double the quantity to make more if you need to.

Apple & Blackberry Crumble

So, I’ve made this crumble twice in the last week trying to make the most of those last berries of the Autumn! I did however, both time forget to take a picture before we ate it.

This recipe serves up to 6 people.


For fruit filling
1 large bramley cooking apple (approx. 270g)
300g blackberries
75g sugar (I use a mixture of light muscovado & golden caster sugar)

For crumble
150g plain flour
100g unsalted butter
50g golden caster sugar


Preheat your oven to 200°C (180°C for fan assisted ovens)

For the crumble, place your caster sugar and flour in a mixing bowl and stir together. Slice your butter into about 8 pieces. Then gradually add your butter to the flour/sugar mix, rubbing together with your hands until it looks like breadcrumbs – place bowl to one side

Grease a pyrex dish with a little butter

Peel, core and chop/slice the apple into mouth size pieces

Rinse your blackberries

Put your apple and blackberries into the dish and sprinkle the mixture of muscovado and golden caster sugar over the fruit – mix a little bit so you have the fruit covered with the sugar and an even mix of apple and blackberries in your dish!

Shower your crumble mixture evenly over the fruit until your fruit is totally covered by the crumble mixture.

Place in oven for 30-40 mins until it is golden and fruit is bubbling.

Leave to cool for a few minutes before serving. You can serve with cream or ice cream.

24 days of Christmas: Chocolate Berry Panettone (by Laura Anne)

Laura Anne is the real name of the blogger sometimes known as ‘BrunetteKoala’ who blogs here at Learning from Sophie. Over the last year she’s been trying out new recipes in a bid to get better at baking and cooking. She loves chatting, meeting her blog & twitter friends ‘in real life’, Jesus, cupcakes and Santa. 

Chocolate Berry Panettone

For the first time last year, I got to contribute to Christmas dinner. This was a BIG deal since usually no one except my mother is allowed to be in the kitchen on Christmas Day. Quite a bit of planning was involved in choosing a dessert that would be liked by all the family. Since my smallgroup have enjoyed Pandoro with homemade Chocolate fudge sauce several times, this was what I made for Christmas Day last year. This should serve 8 people!

To make your Chocolate fudge icing…

3 oz dark chocolate (for this I used Green & Black’s Maya Gold)

3oz milk

2 oz caster sugar

1 oz unsalted butter

Method: Put milk & sugar in a saucepan and bring to the boil, then turn heat down slightly and stir for 5 full minutes. Take saucepan off the heat and add butter & chocolate, then stir until melted. Place in a bowl or jug and allow to cool.

And now to create your Chocolate berry panettone…

500g chocolate chip panettone

400g berries

300 ml whipping cream

1-2 tbsp caster sugar


Slice your panettone into layers.

Set some of your berries aside for garnishing the top of the panettone.

Whisk your whipping cream and sugar together in a mixing bowl until it is stiffened. Then add your berries folding them into the whipped cream.

Spoon the berry cream onto the bottom layer of the panettone, then add another layer of panettone and repeat until you have a layer of berry cream between each panettone layer.

Add the chocolate fudge icing to the top of the panettone stack and garnish with your berries that you set aside.

Place in the freezer for 4 hours.

Remove above 10-15 minutes before serving.

It should be noted, that because of the lack of freezer space, we weren’t able to do these last couple of steps, and had to settle for putting it in the fridge instead. In fact we might just have served it pretty much straight away. And I’m terrible at cutting things equally too. As a result, our panettone didn’t look quite so picture perfect – but it still tasted AMAZING. :)

This post is one in a series of posts over the Christmas period as many of my friends join me for another blog party which I hope you’ve all been enjoying! Please feel free to comment on the recipe and I’d love to hear from you if you try it out. Please haste ye back for more guest bloggers who will be sharing over the next 24 days. You can find all the posts so far by clicking here.

Honey and Spice Cake

This recipe is a bit of a marmite one. I’ve discovered people either really like this cake, or they really don’t like this cake. This will make you 12 muffin sized cupcakes, or the cake in the picture above which was baked in a 9″ (24 cm) cake tin. Apologies for the yellowness of the picture, the lighting in our wee kitchen sucks big time – plus I forgot to take a picture before we started eating it.

For the cake:


200g unsalted butter

200g self-raising flour

100g light muscovado sugar

2-3 tbsp honey

4 eggs

1 tsp all-spice

½ tsp baking powder


Line your cake tin with greaseproof paper on bottom and grease the sides with a little bit of butter.

Preheat your oven to 150 C.

Melt butter, sugar and honey in a saucepan on a low heat.

Beat your eggs.

Once butter, sugar and honey is melted, and your eggs and whisk together.

Sift flour, baking powder and all spice together then stir into your butter/sugar/honey/egg mixture in a bowl to create a smooth batter.

Pour into cake tin (or divide equally among muffin cases).

Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden, then place on wire rack to cool.

For the icing:


75g butter

175g icing sugar

½ tsp vanilla extract

¼ tsp all spice

2 tsp honey


It helps if you leave your butter out of the fridge while the cake is in the oven/cooling before you make the icing.

Place butter in a bowl and beat until soft and fluffy. Gradually add the icing sugar sifting it through a sieve (to prevent you getting lumpy icing!)

Add the vanilla extract and honey and beat until you get a thick, creamy and smooth consistency.

Once your cake is cool, you can spoon the icing onto the top of your cake and spread evenly across the surface of your cake.

Apple & Raspberry Porridge

Since I first posted the ‘Apple & Strawberry Porridge’ recipe, I discovered that raspberries work much much better. Over the Autumn/Winter, I’ve been using frozen berries/summer fruits in place of the fresh berries. So I thought I’d repost this recipe with a few edits!

because we know bears love porridge…

It’s only right that I have a wee bit of Scottishism in grained in these recipes. But this one is the first one inspired by the  Hungry recipe book by Innocent. (By the way, if you are taking part in Bringing Sexy Back I totally recommend Hungry for helping you have healthier eating habits. They even have great tips in how to get the whole family involved – especially kids).

Ingredients (serves 1)

½ cup of oatmeal (rolled oats)

1 cup of apple juice (try to use pressed rather than concentrate)

1 cup water

1 cup raspberries (you can also use frozen berries as an option when they aren’t in season!)


Put your oatmeal, apple juice and water in a saucepan.

Bring to the boil, stirring the mixture continuously.

Once you’ve brought it to the boil, leave to simmer on a low heat, stirring occasionally for approx. 8 minutes

While your porridge is simmering you can get out your fresh strawberries & give them a wee rinse and chop them up into bite-size pieces in between stirs. You might want to make a drink of your choice too (a wee bit herbal tea? coffee? orange juice?). **If you are using frozen berries – add them after about 3-4 minutes. It will probably turn your porridge pink!**

Once the porridge is done, pour into a bowl, add your raspberries, give it a wee stir and serve!

Obviously, please beware that when leaving your porridge to cool a little (because you don’t want it to burn your mouth), you should not leave it unsupervised. You just never know if Goldilocks might come in and eat it all up before you get a chance.

Or a bear for that matter…

Disclosure: I don’t ever recommend things for the sake of recommendation, but yes, I’m part of the Amazon Associates programme, so if you purchase the book through that link I may get a small percentage of the profit or something like that! But really, I don’t care how you buy it or where you buy it. I think it’s a great recipe book for anyone – the 2.4 kid family, the students, the semi-grown up marrieds or the singletons like me!

Koala Friendly Mulled Wine

Koalas can’t drink wine. We koalas aren’t too upset because we’ve never been able to drink wine, so it we don’t know we’re missing out really. However, once a brunette koala got a little bit ill from drinking mulled wine that had actual real wine in it. She didn’t realise that mulled wine was made with…well, wine. Oops.

However, this Brunette Koala decided she wasn’t going to miss out anymore, and thought she’d do some experimenting to find an alternative one Christmas…


600 ml red grape juice

400 ml cranberry & raspberry juice

1 orange

2 mulled spice sachets

200ml water


Pour your juice and the water into a saucepan. Add the mulled wine spice sachets.

Bring to almost to the boil (should be bubbling around the sides a bit), then keep at that temperature for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, rinse your orange, then cut into fine slices.

After 10 minutes, take out the mulled wine spice sachets, add the orange slices to garnish, and take off the heat.

And serve!!

My family actually much preferred this non-alcoholic homemade alternative mulled wine to the normal stuff, and was a hit on Christmas Eve last year. The only annoying thing was that I’d only  bought one carton of the red grape & yumberry juice so we weren’t able to have any on Christmas Day. I haven’t been able to find Red grape & yumberry juice this year, so the red grape and cranberry/raspberry combo is my alternative. :)

Toffee Apple Cupcakes

One of the volunteers gave me some cooking apples this week, and tomorrow I’m hoping to try out a new apple cake recipe I’ve never done before. In the meantime, I thought I’d share with you a recipe for toffee apple cupcakes. I made these for our centre’s anniversary get together last year (along with my chocolate cranberry, nutella and lemon white choc chip cupcakes). Unfortunately, I never got a picture of all the cupcakes as they got eaten before I managed to get my camera out.

For the cakes

2 bramley cooking apples

1 tbsp lemon juice

9oz plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon

3oz light muscovado sugar

2 oz unsalted butter

3 fl oz milk

3 fl oz apple juice

2 eggs


Preheat oven to 150 °C

Core, peel and then coarsely grate one of the apples.

Cut the other apple into small slices to use for cake topping – place your apple slices in bowl and pour lemon juice on them.

Sieve your flour, cinnamon and baking powder into a mixing bowl, then stir in the muscavado sugar and grated apple.

Melt your butter in a small saucepan, then add to milk, apple juice and eggs and whisk together. Stir this into the mixing bowl with your flour, sugar & apple lightly. Do not beat too much otherwise your cakes will not come out as spongey.

Spoon your mixture equally between 12 muffin cases, and arrange 2 apple slices on top of each one, like a butterfly.

Bake in the oven for 20-25 mins.

Place on a cooling rack and leave to cool.

For the toffee sauce topping:


4 tbsp single cream

3 oz light muscovado sugar

1 oz unsalted butter


Place the cream, butter and sugar into a small saucepan

Heat slowly, stirring until the sugar is dissolved (make sure it doesn’t burn!)

Once sugar is dissolved, Bring to boil rapidly and keep boiling for 2 minutes until the sauce is thickened and syrupy. 

Cool slightly then drizzle over cakes and leave to set.

Banana Breakfast Muffins

This recipe has been requested by Lynn. Sorry it took me so long to get it up!

3 ripe bananas

4 fl oz semi-skimmed milk

3 eggs

4 oz unsalted butter

2 tbsp honey

8oz self raising flour

4 oz of bran flakes

4 oz porridge oats

2 handfuls of raisins

2 handfuls of chopped nuts


Preheat oven to 150 C

Melt butter and honey in a small saucepan, stirring occasionally (do not let it boil!!) 

Peel, then mash the bananas in a mixing bowl. Put bran flakes in a plastic bag (I usually use a freezer/sandwich bag) make sure the bag is closed then bash with a rolling pin to crush the bran flakes – then put to one side.

Add milk, eggs, melted butter & honey to the bananas and whisk together.

Add the flour, crushed bran flakes, oats, nuts and raisins and stir it all together. You do not want to stir too much, just enough so that everything is mixed in to create your muffin mixture.

Divide equally between 12-16 muffin cases. The muffins will not rise much, so you want the cases fairly full (fuller than you’d have for cupcakes).

Put in oven for around 25-30 mins where they should be golden on top.

If you put the muffins in a sealtight container, they can keep for up to a week. They work great as a snack as they full of fibre and more complex carbs for slower-release energy in place of a chocolate bar! Also useful for the mornings where you sleep in and don’t have time to make breakfast, or when you are about to go to the gym and your stomach is rumbling it wants tea and is threatening to ruin your workout. :) The use of honey, bananas and raisins means they still taste sweet, but the sugar is more natural and better for you than refined sugar used in cakes (and most definitely better than artificial sweeteners – please insert my usual rant about so-called ‘diet’ drinks and people putting sweetener or faux sugar in their tea or coffee here).

The much coveted lemon cupcakes

Back when I was experimenting with cupcakes, this recipe I created very loosely based on my Nana’s lemon cake became much coveted. If I make any other kind of cupcakes, my Mum will at some point come into the kitchen look at the cakes and her face will immediately fall “Did you not make your lemon cupcakes?” she will whine ask.

These cakes are not healthy. At all. So do eat in moderation. Perhaps only make them when you know you’ll probably only get 1 because you’ll be sharing them with approximately 11 other people. :)

This recipe makes about 12 (sometimes a little more) cupcakes. They are great for birthdays, dedications/christenings or just a fun pampering kind of day in the summertime with friends!


for cake

6 0z butter/margarine

6 0z sugar

6 0z self raising flour

3 medium sized eggs

2 tbsp milk

Juice & zest of 1 lemon

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

100g white choc chips

1 tsp baking powder

for icing

3 oz unsalted butter

6 0z icing sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp lemon juice


Preheat your oven to 180 C (150 C for fan ovens).

Put your margarine and sugar into a bowl and cream it (basically mix together until it has a creamy texture)

Add your 3 eggs and whisk together with the margarine & sugar until smooth.

Sieve the flour & baking powder into the bowl, and fold into the mixture.

Add your vanilla extract, milk, zest & lemon juice into the mixture. Mix together.

Stir in your white chocolate chips.

Divide equally between about 12 muffin cases. Each muffin case should only be about ¾ full as the cakes will rise.

Put in oven for approximately 20-25 mins. Cakes should be golden and the sponge quite springy (if you gently touch the top with your finger, it should bounce back up. If a dent remains, they need a little longer in the oven).

Once ready, take out and place the cakes on a cooling rack.

While cooling, make your icing.

Put the Icing sugar and butter in a bowl – whisk until creamy.

Add the vanilla extract & lemon juice and mix well.

Once the cakes are cool you can use the icing to decorate the cakes however you like (you might wise to use a piping bag, or just use the back of a teaspoon..!) Feel free to add choc chips, candied peel or other things to decorate the tops of your lemon choc chip cupcakes!