New House Blues Apple, Pear and Blackberry Crumble

Yesterday I got the keys to my new London house. (Yay!)

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It was a very typical student house- small, lifeless, and pretty dirty. I arrived first, opening the door to a cold, off white coloured hallway with a rather dingy brown carpet. Everything is grey, everything is cold, and everything has a permanent layer of dust on it. The front door has about an inch gap on underneath, and the cold September air whistles through, giving the place a permanent chill. I am dreading January.

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My mother looked on in horror: ‘you’re living HERE? Well, maybe its not too late to back out…’

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But it is too late to back out, much to my mother’s dismay. It looks like I’m going to have to suck up the dust and dinge and grease (really really not literally! Or maybe with a Hoover…)

I, however, am optimistic. I know how great it will be once all the girls have moved in and filled the place with colour and laughter. And lots of blankets. And onesies. Oh and tea. It is going to be as wonderful as last year at uni was. It seems that the worse the house itself is, the better the people within it make it feel. I am thoroughly looking forward to every moment I spend there.

Just not yet.

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I think I’ll wait till they have all moved in and made it feel sliiiiightly more lived in (and clean) before I start calling it ‘home.’ So I have retreated back to my parents house in the countryside, to sit by the fire and shovel crumble into my mouth and eat amazing Mother meals and start to try to embrace the cold.

So- on to the crumble.

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Crumble is the best thing on a cold Autumn evening. In fact, crumble is the best thing just about all the time. It is SO easy to make and just as easy to eat. It may not be the most photogenic thing in the world, that is true, but it is exactly what you need after a hard day of moving in.

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Apple, Pear and Blackberry Crumble

This crumble was made with fruit and berries picked in my garden (ahh, home) but shop bought ones will be just as good (maybe better actually- far less risk of tunneling bugs!)

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For the filling:

About 8 small cooking apples

About 4 small pears

About a punnet worth of blackberries (these measurements are approximate as it depends a lot on the size of your fruit and the size of your dish, but as long as you have enough to fill the dish at least three pieces of fruit deep.)

About 50g caster sugar (again, this depends on how much fruit you are using! If your apples are particularly tart, use more. If you prefer your crumble on the less sweet side, mix in less.

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Peel and cut up the apples and pears into fairly thin slices- they don’t have to be too thin, but you don’t want massive wedges. Put in a bowl and sprinkle the sugar. All the fruit should have a good coating, so add more if you think you need it!

Pour the fruity mixture into a dish- a roasting sort of dish would work well- and try not to eat all the fruit while you make the crumble!

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For the crumble:

200g butter, cubed

300g plain flour

100g brown sugar

75g caster sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

Rub the flour into the butter until it resembles bread crumbs. I do this by hand (mainly because I love how it feels), but you can do it with a food processor if you’d prefer (and if you dislike having floury butter stuck under your fingernails, which isn’t a great sensation!) Don’t make it too fine, because its nice to have some lumps in your crumble!

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Mix in the sugar and cinnamon and pour the crumble over the fruit.

Bake at 180 degrees for about 40 minutes or until the crumble topping is browned and the fruit is bubbling at the sides.

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Enjoy straight from the oven!

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xxR

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A delicious Plum Tart (and a rather less delicious rant about house rentals)

I am in the middle of trying to rent a house. It is in London, and me and four friends are amidst negotiations with the landlord. It just is not going well. I mean, who knew that there was so much involved in renting a house? Also we are running out of time- uni starts again in a month (eek) and we are still technically homeless.

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We have made slight progress- I mean, there is a house we want. Sort of. It is not ideal but it is a house, with a roof (although, admittedly, it probably leaks.) It has five (albeit small) bedrooms and a kitchen, which, with a little imagination, could be very homely.

There is just so much to think about! We are battling with the landlord about everything from admin fees to the fine print of the lease, licenses to deposits. It’s just impossible to know if we are doing the right thing- and not being completely ripped off!

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I just know how people can handle these things without the help of some very loving and patient parents!

Luckily, not all things in life are as complex or stressful as renting a house.

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Like this tart.

With only four ingredients, it really is the simplest thing in the world.

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Plum Tart (I picked these plums from my garden, but if you don’t have a complete over abundance of fruit trees in your garden and more plums than you know what to do with, bought ones will be just as good!)

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for the pastry:

300g plain flour

150g butter

75g sugar

4 tablespoons cold water

for the filling:

about 20 plums- halved and with the stones removed

5 tablespoons of caster sugar

Using your hands, or a food processor if you prefer, rub the butter into the flour until it forms a sort of bread crumby or sandy texture. Add the sugar and keep working. Add a small amount of the water and mix it in, first with a wooden spoon and then with your hands, until it forms together into a ball. Add the water slowly- you can always add more if it is too dry, but working with a really wet dough is horrible!

Once it has formed into a ball, wrap it in cling film and leave it to rest in the fridge for at least half an hour.

While the dough is resting, prepare the plums. Cut them in half, and sprinkle the sugar over them. Mix it in well, so they all have an equal coating of sugar.

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Once the dough is rested, roll it out on a lightly floured surface, and place it in a pie dish. Pour in the plums.

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Bake in the oven at 180 degrees for about 30-40 minutes or until the plums have softened and the pastry is a golden brown colour. (I find its best not to bake this tart blind, as the pastry cooks well enough in the time it takes for the plums to adequately soften, and the base is never too soggy and runny- but if you think it is best, then by all means, do it!)

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And if you, like me, still have more plums left over- they are also great in jam!

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xxR