The end of summer has one thing going for it (well, two, if you count the kids going back to school): blackberries. Loads and loads of blackberries.
The parks around where we live are packed with bramble bushes and so every year it has become a family ritual to take a couple of buckets and fill our boots, er, buckets.
This year, my three kids and I staggered back with 3kg of juicy, ripe fruit.
Sadly, even the staunchest brambler would end up with severe stomach ache trying to munch through that lot – but this is why freezers and pies were invented.
After boxing up six portions, freezing three and giving the neighbours the other three, we were still left with a mountain of berries, so I used them in a variety of dishes, from a gourmet pan-fried duck with blackberry sauce, to a blackberry sorbet, and to these very moreish mini-blackberry and apple pies.
Makes 15 mini-pies
You'll need a 15-hole muffin tin.
500g shortcrust party
A little butter for greasing muffin tins
2 eating apples, peeled, cored and diced
350g fresh blackberries
A little milk to brush the tops
Muscovado or Demerara sugar
1. Butter the muffin tins. Roll out the pastry to 3mm thick. Use pastry rings to cut into 15 x 12cm discs or to fit the muffin tin holes, and 15 x 6cm discs for the lids. Ease pastry into the muffin tin holes.
2. Meanwhile, squeeze a little blackberry juice into a small saucepan and add the apple. Gently heat cook to soften, for approx. 5 mins.
3. Remove the apples with a slotted spoon and add 5-6 chunks to the bottom of each pastry cup.
4. Fill each cup with blackberries, then top with the pastry lids.
5. Brush the lids with milk and sprinkle over the sugar. Cook in a preheated oven at 180C/Gas 4 for 45-50 mins, until the pastry is slightly golden.
6. Remove from the oven and allow to slightly cool in the muffin tin. Once cool, carefully remove the pies. Serve with ice cream, whipped cream or custard.
The pies will keep in an airtight container for 3-4 days. Pop them in the oven to warm through, if desired.