Saturday, 30 November 2019

Blackberry and apple cheesecake


    Blackberries are the essence of country life and have many uses

According to archaelogical evidence,the Neolithic Revolution, also referred to as the Agricultural Revolution, saw a shift to agriculture from hunting and gathering that changed humanity forever.Since these times we have been eating blackberries.There are now as many as 2,000 varieties of Rubus fruticosus worldwide, if you count the naturally occurring hybrids and commercial cultivars. Picking blackberries captures the essence of country life, conjuring up romantic images of rustic walks and country lanes. Children love to eat them and a blackberry picking expedition can prove fruitful for all members of the family.Foragers hunt frenetically everywhere – through hayfields, cornfields, and briars, straining across ditches, staining and scratching their hands as they search. They fill  buckets first with the greener, less ripe berries, and then top them off with the ripest ones. They are more highly prized in western Europe than anywhere else in the world, and collected and eaten most enthusiastically of all in Britain, where blackberrying occupies a special cultural niche as a uniquely rewarding leisure activity.Positive foraging experiences like collecting blackberries can be very rewarding. This is especially true with children, as it also helps to set a life-long interest in nature and natural un-processed foods.After all, wild foods are totally organic, requiring no human intervention to thrive and best of all, you don’t need your wallet to cash in on the yields ( unless of course you are counting on purchasing the cultivated variety). Alas the blackberry season is now all but over and this years’ berries are no longer widespread, and prolific throughout the countryside.However their flavour can be enjoyed for weeks and months to come by making jams, chutneys, wine and infusing vinegars. They can also be frozen and used as desired throughout the year. Berries ripen gradually from August, through September to early-winter.
When they are over however we’re also blessed with the option of the cultivated varieties being available in the supermarkets.
Blackberry and apple crumbles, pies, cobblers, muffins, fools and ice creams are all delicious. One quick, easy and delicious thing to do with blackberries is to make a blackberry coulis.
Blackberry coulis
As the fruits swell and ripen  their sweetness becomes more pronounced and they find themselves frequently combined with  apples for a taste which is the embodiment of the changing seasons. 
 One of my earliest childhood memories is of my mother bottling blackberry and apple compote. There were wild blackberry bushes opposite our house, and a couple of old apple trees in the garden, providing her with more than enough to keep her busy each autumn making this wonderful treat to take us through the winter.
This is a deep garnet coloured sauce that you can serve with desserts and it’s wonderful over ice-cream or yoghurt.

250g fresh blackberries       25g organic sugar      25ml lemon juice

 

Combine all of the ingredients in a small saucepan. 
Cover and cook over low heat for about 20 minutes, checking occasionally to make sure it doesn’t dry out (the moisture from the berries should prevent this). 
Transfer to a food processor or blender and purée. 
Pass through a sieve to remove seeds. 
Use immediately or put in jar and refrigerate.

Blackberry and apple cheese cake with blackberry coulis
20cm / 8" loose bottomed cake tin

FOR THE BASE
250g/9oz finely digestive biscuits
125g/4½oz unsalted butter,
melted, plus extra for greasing
3 tbsp honey

FOR THE FILLING
100g/3½oz caster sugar
250g/9oz ricotta
250g/9oz mascarpone
4 medium eggs
125g/4oz fresh blackberries

FOR THE COULIS 250g fresh blackberries       
25g icing sugar      
25ml lemon juice

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