I love August vacations in Vermont, in part because I can bake using my favorite in-season fruits. This time of year, the meadows, thickets, and byways of northern Vermont are bursting with a profusion of blackberries and apples.
Down in the meadow below our camp, one of us picks blackberries just about every morning. When we walk up and around highway #46, we can stop at just about any spot on the road and grab handfuls of blackberries to eat. Even our dogs like them. It dates back to my childhood somehow–there is something magical about picking blackberries in August, with the buzz of crickets in the air and the fading light.
Apples are equally abundant now, too. On my morning run up Pond Hill Road this morning, I identified at least 5 different varieties of apples, hanging low and heavy from roadside trees.
Here are some of the things I’ve baked or intend to bake so far on this staycation:
Blackberry Muffins. (See photo above. I think these are the best muffins I’ve ever made!)
Blackberry Almond Tart with a Cornmeal Crust. The cornmeal crust is my favorite variation on the crust. You just have to substitute half a cup of corn meal for flour. It gives the pie or tart a great rustic flavor and works well with both apple and blackberry.
Blackberry Apple Pie. Blackberries and apples are uniquely suited to one another, with their combination of tartness and sweetness, especially in pastry. Several years ago, when I entered the pie-making contest at the Lancaster Fair, first prize went to an extraordinary apple-blackberry pie. I’ve also added apples to the blackberry muffin recipe, above, and it works beautifully.
Apple Galettes. It took me a while to get the hang of the galette pastry. Many thanks to Magdalena Randall, of the Polish Princess Bakery in Lancaster, New Hampshire, who gave me one or two simple but incredibly important and effective tips for delicious galettes. (I have also made rhubarb and pear galettes, but I think the apple ones are the best).
Apple Pie with a Cheddar Cheese Crust. Several years ago, I entered this pie into the contest at the Lancaster Fair, and I won second-prize!
Crab Apple Pie. This is my favorite apple pie, although crab apples, at first blush, are not very glamorous or interesting in appearance. I discovered their potential for pastry by accident a few years ago, when I was walking in the woods up on Courthouse Hill near my house in Guildhall, and encountered a bunch of fallen crab apples. On impulse, I gathered up a bunch, took them home, and made a pie using this recipe.