Going nuts for the Autumn harvest
As the transition from summer to winter enters its final weeks, foragers’ attentions turn to the hardier crops that withstand the heavy morning frosts, and wetter windier weather. Although harbouring a shorter seasonal period, when foraged in their prime, nuts are an absolute treat. As the kernels ripen in late October, the walnut is a particular treasure of the late autumnal season, with its sweet and creamy flavours, and tender yet crunchy texture.
The walnut tree is not as common place in the typical English garden as the apple, pear, or even hazelnut tree, however, these trees are vast in size, offering an abundant harvest well into November. With talk of disruptive weather, believe it or not, this is the perfect time to forage for nuts in particular. After stormy weather – high winds and heavy rain- much of the ripened harvest has made its way to the garden or forest floor, ready for frugal picking.
Foraged walnuts straight from the field are often referred to as ‘wet’ walnuts. This fresh variety means that its texture is more tender, creamier and sweeter, in comparison to the crunchy, slightly bitter version we often purchase from the shop. Although worth the work invested in these ‘wet’ nuts, foraged walnuts are a definite labour of love. Once carefully removed from their hardy shells, the nuts can be slowly dried in a low heated oven for around an hour to ensure they can be kept in a sealed container for a good few months.
Walnuts are often used as a supplementary ingredient, but with the opportunity to use the fresh variety, I wanted to create a delicious recipe that brought its seasonal flavours to the forefront. Using blackberries previously foraged and frozen, my walnut, blackberry and white chocolate blondies are busting with flavour and colour. With generous quantities of nuts and fruit, this straightforward recipe can be simply enjoyed on its own with just a sprinkling of icing sugar. Quite a delicious seasonal bake.
- 4oz Butter
- 4oz Caster Sugar
- 2 Eggs
- 4.5oz Plain Flour
- 4oz White Chocolate
- 4oz Blackberries
- 4oz Walnuts
- Pre-heat the oven to 190ºc/Gas 5. Melt the butter and 2oz of the chocolate. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar, until it forms a thickened, smooth mixture.
- Add the flour and melted chocolate mixture to the eggs, along with roughly chopped walnuts and chocolate. Fold the mixtures together using a metal spoon. Add half the blackberries before folding these also into the mixture being careful to keep as much air in the mixture.
- Grease and line your baking tin with greaseproof paper (I used 7inch square tin). Carefully and slowly pour the mixture into the tin, and scatter the remaining blackberries on the top. Bake in the oven for 35-45 minutes, until golden.
- Remove from oven, allow to cool, and cut into generously sized squares. To serve, dust with icing sugar.