As the weather’s on the turn, I’m starting to look towards comforting bakes and autumnal colours, and – for me – this time of year is when beautiful dried fruits come into their own.
This week, I’m showcasing two sweet bakes, but there’s nothing to stop you experimenting with dried fruit in savoury dishes too.
A pop of sharp sweetness from dried apple or raisins in stuffing is a beautiful thing, especially with roast pork. Or try dried sour cranberries chopped up finely in a winter slaw – amazing!
Dried fruit can also be used to counter the richness of slow-cooks; a lamb and apricot tagine is a beautiful thing.
You can get an increasing variety of different dried fruits nowadays that, when eaten in moderation, make a great healthy snack; dried figs, for example, have an awesome, toffee-like taste and texture.
You can also get loads of beautiful tropical dried fruits like kiwi, banana, papaya and pineapple. Have fun with it, and try the weirdest and wildest combinations you can come up with.
Big love, Jamie
Sour cherry scones
Total time: 35 minutes, plus cooling
INGREDIENTS (makes 8): ◆ 55g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing ◆ 55g sour cherries and/or raisins ◆ Fresh orange juice, for soaking ◆ 225g self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting ◆ 1 level tsp baking powder ◆ 1 large free-range egg ◆ 2 tbsp milk, plus extra for brushing
1 Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6, then grease and line a large baking tray. Just cover the fruit in orange juice and leave to soak and rehydrate for 15 minutes.
2 Place the flour, baking powder and butter in a food processor and pulse to fine crumbs. Tip into a bowl and make a well in the middle.
3 Beat the egg and milk together with a good pinch of sea salt, then drain and add the dried fruit. Pour the egg mixture into the well and stir together to form a soft, dry dough, adding a little more milk, if needed.
4 Roll out the dough on a flour-dusted surface until it’s 2.5cm thick, then stamp out 8cm rounds with a cutter or the rim of a glass. Place upside down on the baking tray (this helps them to rise). Brush the top of each scone with a little milk, then bake for 15 minutes, or until risen and golden.
5 Leave the scones to cool a little on a wire rack. They’re great served with just a little butter, but a dollop of raspberry or strawberry jam and clotted cream just takes them to the next level. Delicious!
Total time: 45 minutes, plus cooling
Per serve: 179 cals 6.8g fat (3.9g saturated) 3.6g protein 27.1g carbs 5.9g sugar 0.7g salt 0.9g fibre
INGREDIENTS (SERVES 8): ◆ 55g unsalted butter (at room temperature) ◆ 55g fine demerara sugar, plus extra for sprinkling ◆ ½ an eating apple ◆ 1 ball of stem ginger in syrup ◆ 55g currants ◆ 1 tbsp candied peel ◆ 1 tsp ground mixed spice ◆ 1 lemon ◆ 1 whole nutmeg, for grating ◆ Plain flour, for dusting ◆ 375g block of all-butter puff pastry (cold) ◆ 1 large free-range egg
1 Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas mark 5 and line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper. Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and creamy.
2 Peel and core the apple, then finely chop with the stem ginger and stir into the butter mixture, followed by the currants, candied peel and mixed spice. Finely grate in the lemon zest and a little nutmeg, then mix well.
3 On a floured surface, roll out the pastry until it’s roughly 3mm thick, dusting with more flour, if needed. Cut into 8 x 12cm squares.
4 Flatten the corners of each pastry square slightly with a rolling pin, then spoon 2 tablespoons of fruit mixture into the middle of each. Brush with a little water, then pull the corners up and over the filling, pressing lightly to seal.
5 Arrange the cakes on the baking tray with the sealed side facing down, and very lightly press with a rolling pin to flatten slightly. Make three slits in the top of each cake, then quickly eggwash and sprinkle with sugar.
6 Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden and puffed up, then leave to cool before tucking in.
Per Serve: 182 cals, 7.9g fat, (4.7g saturated), 2.3g protein, 27.1g carbs, 15.1g sugar, 0.1g salt, 1.1g fibre
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