Orchards come into their own at this time of year with fruit ripe for the picking. Chef and author Sarah Raisbeck takes a wander through a local apple orchard and turns the collected bounty into an array of comforting autumn dishes.

As an adult your favourite foods are usually because of a fond childhood memory. This is certainly true for me, I remember roast chicken on a Sunday and apple crumble and custard for pudding.

Come winter I am all about comfort puddings and usually these are apple based. I love that I can store apples picked in autumn, open the freezer to use fruit picked in the summer months and top some puddings, especially rice pudding with preserves made from an abundance of fruit.

Great British Life: Apple picking (c) Emma StonerApple picking (c) Emma Stoner

Being a mum of three, I want to create these memories for my children with home cooked food.

I still remember blackberry picking as a child, sitting on my dad’s shoulders stretching over to pick them. I always have a stock of blackberries in the freezer from picking them in the early autumn. These are mainly added into crumbles.

There was a time when almost every farm in Devon had an area set aside for apple trees. Historically, many farms would make cider from their own orchards, for their own consumption, and to sell as a cash crop.

In Devon, apples tend to be grown for the cider industry – and, in 2007, cider was the fastest growing food item in the UK, according to a national survey.

Great British Life: Devon orchard apples (c) Emma StonerDevon orchard apples (c) Emma Stoner

Orchards have been in decline with many supermarkets stocking little in the way of English apples. Community orchards are becoming more common keeping the old apple varieties going. As well as for local people this is great for wildlife which thrives in and around orchards.

I love the story of the Bramley apple which goes back to 1809, when a little girl by the name of Mary Ann Brailsford planted a pip in a garden in Southwell, Nottinghamshire.

The property was owned by a Mr Bramley, so when Celia's great grandfather asked for permission to take a seedling to grow the apple commercially, permission was granted on the condition the apple was named Bramley.

Great British Life: Apple pie (c) Emma StonerApple pie (c) Emma Stoner

Dutch apple pie recipe

When you take just one bite of something and remember it a year later, you know you need the recipe! This is a real treat of a pudding in our house. A good friend's mother-in-law has shared this recipe with me from her Dutch roots.

Makes 13in pie


1.25kg large dessert apples

1 lemon, juice and rind of

185g caster sugar (or coconut sugar)

2 tsp ground cinnamon

175g butter

175g plain flour

175g self raising flour

1 egg

Good pinch salt

30g breadcrumbs

1 tsp crushed aniseed

For the glaze

60g apricot jam

2 tbsp rum or other liquor, or water or use 1 egg (whisked) and granulated sugar


Lightly grease a 13in springform tin or loose bottom tin with butter.

Preheat oven 180C/Gas 5

To make the filling, peel, core and thinly slice the apples. Put into a bowl with the lemon juice, 60g of the sugar, cinnamon and salt. Mix together and set aside.

For the pastry, into a Magimix or similar add the flours, remaining sugar, lemon rind, salt and butter. Mix until breadcrumbs form, then add the egg. Mix until it just comes together and tip onto your worktop. Your pastry will be easier to use if chilled for an hour.

Put ⅓ of your pastry aside and roll the rest to a 14in circle. Line your tin with the pastry, pressing any cracks back together.

Mix the aniseed with the breadcrumbs and sprinkle into the bottom of the pastry-lined tin. Top with the apple mix, layering them evenly.

Roll the remaining pastry into a 13in round, cut 1cm wide strips and lattice the top of your pie or cover completely as a pie lid cutting a small X in the middle for it to release steam. If you have a blackbird pie funnel this would be ideal to use.

If glazing with egg this is the time to brush on top of the pie and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes until golden brown, check after 30 minutes and turn the pie around.

Remove from the oven, heat the jam and rum in a pan and brush on top of your pie.

Let the pie sit for up to 30 minutes before removing the sides of the tin, leave to cool or eat straight away. Enjoy with plenty of custard or cream!

Tip: Plant based pastry

380g flour (I like to use a heritage grain flour) 250g coconut oil, 1 tsp salt, 110g cashew milk.

Put the flour, salt and oil into your Magimix and combine until it resembles fine breadcrumbs, then add the cashew milk. Mix until it just comes together and use as needed.

Great British Life: Baked apple (c) Emma StonerBaked apple (c) Emma Stoner

Baked apples recipe

This is definitely a childhood memory for me. It's what I would class as a healthy pudding and for me, as a mum, this a huge plus! You can use what you have to hand and adapt accordingly.


1 large eating apple/person - cored.

Dried fruit such as dates, figs, raisins, apricots, chopped into small cubes.

1 generous tsp/apple dark brown muscovado sugar or maple syrup (optional)

¼ tsp/apple cinnamon powder

1/apple cinnamon stick

1-2 tsp/person butter or coconut oil


Preheat oven to 200C/Gas 6

When you core your apples, make sure you create a decent size hole to fill. Lightly score a line horizontally all the way around the middle of each apple.

Place the cored apples into a baking dish, stuff the middle with your chosen dried fruits, mix your filling together to stuff the apples, making sure you end layering with a small knob of fat at the top.

Push the cinnamon sticks into the middle.

Pour a small amount of water into your baking dish, about 1-2cm.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until the apples feel soft. Enjoy with custard, ice cream, cream or yoghurt.

Baked apple porridge with a hazelnut cream recipe

This is such a comforting porridge, perfect for the weekends when you have more time at breakfast.

Serves 6 – 8


250g rolled oats

400g milk of choice - dairy or plant based

400g filtered water

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp nutmeg

Bay leaf

100g chopped toasted hazelnuts (saving half for the top)

Zest 1 lemon and orange

30g maple syrup (optional)

Good pinch salt

4 grated apples - eating apples not cooking ones.

Optional - butter or coconut oil and sugar of choice to top.

For the hazelnut cream

100g toasted hazelnuts

Good pinch sea salt

40g maple syrup

Juice of the orange

200g coconut or almond milk


Preheat oven 180C/Gas 5

I like to soak my oats the night before to make them more digestible and quicker to cook. If you soak, use 500g of water instead of 400g as listed.

Into a large baking dish add all of the porridge ingredients (reserving half of the chopped hazelnuts) and give it a good mix.

Top with the reserved hazelnuts. As an option you could add small knobs of butter or coconut oil and a sprinkling of sugar on top.

Stir well and put into the oven for 30 minutes until most of the liquid is absorbed.

To make the hazelnut butter, add the hazelnuts to a Magimix or similar, keep the motor running until a nut butter consistency is reached, scraping down the sides as you go. To this add the rest of the cream ingredients.

To serve, top the porridge with the hazelnut cream.

Great British Life: Apple crumble (c) Emma StonerApple crumble (c) Emma Stoner

Apple Crumble recipe

A perfect winter pudding. This is a great way to use up the fruits frozen during the summer and autumn months and any apples and pears you have stored. I love this crumble topping, it has texture, goes crunchy, is plant based and gluten-free.


150g rolled oats

50g ground almonds

75g coconut oil

70g maple syrup

3 tbsp pumpkin seeds

3 tbsp sunflower seeds

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1kg fruit of choice (I use a mix of 2 or 3) - apples, plums, ripe pears, blackberries, summer berries

1 large orange, juice and rind (I also use elderflower cordial or any fruit syrup I have from poached fruit)

Cinnamon stick


Preheat oven to 180C/Gas 5

To make the topping, melt the coconut oil in a pan and add the rest of the ingredients, mix well.

Use an oven dish (about 9x6x3in) to put your fruit in.

For apples and pears, slice or dice. Mix the fruit well, add the juice of the orange or the equivalent of any other sweetener mentioned above.

Add your topping onto the fruit, pressing it down slightly leaving some of it crumbly.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, until bubbling and golden. If after 30 minutes the top is browning too fast, cover with some greaseproof paper or foil.

I love this with creme fraiche or ice cream - pecan caramel Booja Booja in particular!

Great British Life: Sarah apple picking in the orchard (c) Emma StonerSarah apple picking in the orchard (c) Emma Stoner

Sarah Raisbeck trained as a chef at Tante Marie in Surrey. She Initially worked as a baker specialising in desserts and patisserie, adding sourdough to her skills and winning several awards. She is the author of Natural Sweet Bakes

Photographer Emma Stoner has worked as a press photographer and picture editor and she is an award winning wedding photographer. She also has an MA in documentary photography