So it's back to school time now, 'la rentrée' as the French call it. New school bags, shoes and pencil cases have been bought. In gardens and parks, it's time to harvest blackberries, while apple and pear trees are drooping with ripe fruit. The leaves are turning, conkers are dropping, the bonfire smell of a smouldering wood fire emanates from North London homes, many of which still have working fireplaces.
After a rainy night you can even find mushrooms on the Heath; after one such lucky morning, I fried oyster mushrooms, scraped off a bent and mossy bough, speckled with garlic, butter and white wine, for breakfast. Autumn is the time for harvest, to gather and preserve food before winter.
Here is a recipe which will use up all that ripe fruit, a harvest festival apple, blackberry and rose water pie, adapted from a recipe in my book MsMarmitelover's Secret Tea Party (Square Peg). Rose water matches well with apple, as orange flower water does with carrots; florals bring drama to ordinary ingredients. I had fun making the pastry decorations, using a leaf mould and a sharp knife. This is an activity you can share with the children. If lacking time or confidence, feel free to make a plain unadorned lid, just make sure you cut a cross in the middle, to allow steam to escape.
Here is the recipe in my monthly column in the Ham and High. You can part-bake and freeze this pie, for use later this winter.