Raymond Blanc’s Apple Crumble Cookies

Raymond Blanc’s Apple Crumble Cookies


Granny Smiths are good for this recipe. I have suggested rolling out the dough to make round biscuits, but if you want a chunkier, rustic-looking cookie, just divide the mixture into thirty equal pieces, flatten them very slightly and then bake them as below.

MAKES: approx. 30 cookies


5cm pastry cutter
200g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
160g rolled oats
100g demerara sugar
1 apple, such as Granny Smith, Bramley or Red Windsor, grated
60g dried cranberries
120g unsalted butter
30g maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 180°C/160˚C fan/gas 4.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and bicarbonate of soda.

Add the oats, sugar and grated apple and stir until evenly distributed.

Remove 4 tablespoons of the mixture and set aside. This will be used to top the cookies and give a crumble effect.

Stir the cranberries into the mixture in the bowl.

In a small saucepan on a medium heat, melt the butter with the maple syrup. Add this to the flour and fruit in the bowl, mixing well until it comes together in a crumbly dough.

Lay a large piece of greaseproof paper on a flat surface and spoon the mixture onto it. Lay a second sheet of greaseproof paper on top and then, with a rolling pin, roll over the top until the mixture has flattened to 1cm in thickness.

Transfer to the fridge to chill for 10 minutes.

Using a 5cm pastry cutter, cut out circles of the dough and arrange on two baking trays lined with greaseproof paper, leaving a gap of about 5mm between each one. Sprinkle each cookie with some of the reserved crumble mixture and bake in the preheated oven for 10–12 minutes until lightly golden.

Once the cookies are baked, remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

Once cool, you can store them in an airtight container.

Buy The Lost Orchard by Raymond Blanc here

Cosy up with our top book picks this Autumn

Cosy up with our top book picks this Autumn

The days are getting darker, the weather is getting cooler, everyone is digging out their jumpers from the back of their wardrobes, but for us at Bookends that means the arrival of our favourite season – autumn! We love snuggling up with a good book, hot drink in hand, and a warm pair of woolly socks on our feet. To celebrate the arrival of crispy leaves and all-things-hygge, we’ve picked our top autumnal reads, perfect for curling up with at this time of year.

Before and After by Judy Christie and Lisa Wingate

The heartbreaking true stories of victims of a notorious adoption scandal – some of whom learned the truth from Lisa Wingate’s No.1 bestselling novel Before We Were Yours.

From the 1920s to 1950, Georgia Tann ran a corrupt baby business at the Tennessee Children’s Home Society in Memphis. She offered up more than 5,000 orphans tailored to the wish lists of eager parents – hiding the fact that many weren’t orphans at all, but stolen sons and daughters of poor families, desperate single mothers, and women told in maternity wards that their babies had died.

The publication of Lisa Wingate’s novel Before We Were Yours brought new awareness of Tann’s child trafficking. Adoptees who knew little about their pasts gained insight into the startling facts behind their family histories. Encouraged by their contact with Wingate and award-winning journalist Judy Christie, who document the stories of fifteen adoptees in this book, many survivors set out to trace their roots and find their birth families.

Before and After includes moving and shocking accounts of the ways in which adoptees were separated from their first families. Often raised as only children, many have joyfully reunited with siblings in the final decades of their lives. In Before and After, Wingate and Christie tell of first meetings that are all the sweeter and more intense for time missed, and of families from very different social backgrounds reaching out to embrace brothers, sisters, and cousins.

Get your copy of BEFORE AND AFTER here

Craftfulness by Rosemary Davidson & Arzu Tahsin

What is that unique feeling that goes hand-in-hand with making something from scratch?   Do you ever wonder where the time goes when you’re lost in drawing or working with clay? Are you happiest when you’re sewing or knitting?

Craft enthusiasts are no doubt already aware of the joys of making and the frustration when you must put aside your project and go back to your day job or to less enticing tasks around the house. But there is more to crafting than the simple enjoyment of a creative hobby.

Drawing on the first-hand accounts from everyday crafters, Craftfulness considers the vital well-being effects to be gained from the simple expression of your creativity, and investigates the soul-cleansing and stress-relieving benefits of making things by hand.

An all-you-need-to-know friendly guide to inspire you to give making a go, Craftfulness:

explores the science of creativity and the authors’ down-to-earth craft ethos, as well as why everyone should develop a craft habit;

suggestsways to make time in a hectic life for everyday creative work

considers how we can try to overcome self-criticism and lack of confidence

features simple but immensely satisfying craft projects to still the mind and soothe the soul, complete with beautifully illustrated step-by-step instructions

To read Craftfulness is the first step on the path to leading a happier, healthier, more satisfying and fulfilling life.

Get your copy of CRAFTFULNESS here

The Vanished Bride by Bella Ellis

Yorkshire, 1845.

A young woman has gone missing from her home, Chester Grange, leaving no trace, save a large pool of blood in her bedroom and a slew of dark rumours about her marriage. A few miles away across the moors, the daughters of a humble parson, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë are horrified, yet intrigued.

Desperate to find out more, the sisters visit Chester Grange, where they notice several unsettling details about the crime scene: not least the absence of an investigation. Together, the young women realise that their resourcefulness, energy and boundless imaginations could help solve the mystery – and that if they don’t attempt to find out what happened to Elizabeth Chester, no one else will.

The path to the truth is not an easy one, especially in a society which believes a woman’s place to be in the home, not wandering the countryside looking for clues. But nothing will stop the sisters from discovering what happened to the vanished bride, even as they find their own lives are in great peril…

Get your copy of THE VANISHED BRIDE here

The Last Voyage of Mrs Henry Parker by Joanna Nell

As the wife of retired ship’s doctor Dr Henry Parker, Evelyn is living out her twilight years aboard the Golden Sunset. Every night she dresses for dinner – gown, tiara, runners – and regales her fellow passengers with stories of a glamorous life travelling the world in luxury, as well as showing off her superior knowledge of everything from ships’ customs to biographical details of her heroine, Florence Nightingale. The crew treat her with deference. And forbearance.

But when Henry goes missing, Evelyn sets off to search every part of the grand ocean liner to find him, casino, nightclub and off-limits areas included.

Misadventures are had, new friends are made, scandalous behaviour noted – all news to Evelyn. If only she could remember the events of the night before as clearly as she can recall the first time she met Henry on a passage from England to Australia in 1953 and fell in love, abandoning her dreams to become a midwife to be a wife instead – and the long-ago painful events that left Evelyn all at sea.

Why is it so hard to forget some things and so hard to remember others? And where is Henry?


The Accidental Love Letter by Olivia Beirne

What would you do if you received a love letter that wasn’t meant for you?

Bea used to feel confident, outgoing and fun, but she’s not sure where that person went.

Over the last few months, she’s found herself becoming reclusive and withdrawn. And despite living with her two best friends, she’s never felt lonelier. To make things worse, she’s become so dependent on her daily routine, she’s started to slip out of everyone else’s.

But when a mysterious battered envelope covered in stars lands on her doormat, Bea wonders if she could find the courage to open it.

It isn’t addressed to her, but it could be… if you squinted…

Get your copy of THE ACCIDENTAL LOVE LETTER here

The Lost Child by Emily Gunnis

Some novels hold you in their spell and never let you go…

1960. Thirteen-year-old Rebecca lives in fear of her father’s temper. As a storm batters Seaview Cottage one night, she hears a visitor at the door and a violent argument ensues. By the time the police arrive, Rebecca’s parents are dead and the visitor has fled. No one believes Rebecca heard a stranger downstairs…

2014. Iris, a journalist, is sent to cover the story of a new mother on the run with her desperately ill baby. But fatefully the trail leads to the childhood home of Iris’s own mother, Rebecca…Seaview Cottage.

As Iris races to unravel what happened the night Rebecca’s parents were killed, it’s time for Seaview Cottage to give up its secrets.

Get your copy of THE LOST CHILD here

Time to get cosy…

Time to get cosy…

Now Autumn is in full swing, the nights are getting darker and we’re  (secretly) rather enjoying wearing jumpers again, it’s time to take a look at our cosy reads. There’s nothing better than snuggling down on a chilly evening with a big blanket, huge mug of tea and a good book so we’ve put together the perfect list for you to enjoy!


‘My cosy read – to be read in my favourite chair under a blanket with a cup of steaming tea on the side table – would be anything by the brilliant Rosamunde Pilcher but especially The Shell Seekers. Warm, heart-felt and beautiful, this is the perfect read for a Sunday afternoon.

Also on my cosy TBR pile would be Beyond the Wild River by Sarah Maine, a sweeping story set in the late 1800s that moves from Scotland to the rugged Canadian wilderness, and The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan, which is as close to a hug as a book can be.’


I am all about that hygge lifestyle and have a ton of cosy reads to dip in to this Autumn. My first choice would have to be The Secret by Kathryn Hughes – it’s such a page-turner and you become so invested in the characters by the end. I’d also choose to curl up with My Mother’s Shadow by Nikola Scott, a beautiful story set in two decades, the 1950s and now. It’s intriguing and poignant – perfect for a Sunday afternoon by the fire.

I have to have a little background music and Clemency Burton-Hill’s Year of Wonder is perfect for this. Delve into October’s playlist here where you can listen to a little Classical music every single day.


My ultimate cosy read this autumn has to be Under A Pole Star by Stef Penny – this one is an epic tale of exploration set on a whaling ship in the freezing north sea, but reading this beauty in the protective warmth of a toasty fire and a cosy blanket? Perfection. Also the added bonus of a sizzling love story to thaw your heart!

And while the cold months approach why not challenge yourself with Ken Mogi’s The Little Book of Ikigai ? Based on the mysterious and fascinating miracle of Japan’s record-breaking life-spans, as well as their astonishing appreciation of sensory beauty and inherent mindfulness, this pretty little book will give you hours of joy. As the weather turns colder, cuddle up indoors and spend some time discovering and perfecting your own Ikigai… I think mine is going to be nailing my winter recipes.


Read an extract of 'Falling Leaves and Fireworks' by Chrissie Manby

Read an extract of 'Falling Leaves and Fireworks' by Chrissie Manby

The Benson Edwards family meet a little black cat in this funny, feel-good autumnal novella.


Chapter One


Ronnie Benson, Mark Edwards and their toddler daughter, Sophie, had not long moved into their new house on Three Spires Close when the little black cat first came calling. It was a scraggy wisp of a thing. Thin and mangy with very visible fleas. Whenever Ronnie saw it, especially when she was out with Sophie in the pushchair, she would do her best not to make contact with its big yellow-green eyes. She didn’t want to encourage the poor creature. The last thing she wanted was for her daughter to pick up cat germs. Though she was an animal lover at heart, Ronnie’s determination to keep her daughter safe trumped everything.

‘It must belong to someone,’ she told Mark when he mentioned it was hanging around again. They’d seen it almost every day for a fortnight by this point. Every time someone came to the door it would run up the garden path full of heart-breaking hope that this might be its chance. Someone would let it in. ‘It looks well cared for,’ Ronnie insisted.

Both of them knew that wasn’t true.

‘If it’s still here on Saturday, I’ll call the cat shelter,’ said Mark. ‘They’ll have a space for it. Maybe its owner is looking for it right now.’

Ronnie nodded. It was all they could do. Call the shelter. They couldn’t take it in themselves. Sophie was still so small. The cat might scratch her. Add to that the fact they were skint. Mark had been working all the hours he could at the joinery firm so they could move out of Ronnie’s parents’ place and rent their little house. Ronnie had to feed the three of them on a painfully small budget. They were stretched to the absolute limit. There was no money for anything but the necessities. Cat food and vets’ bills were out of the question. Still, Ronnie felt guilty as the cat attempted to endear itself to her. Every time she stepped out of the house, it would be there, mewing and sidling up and trying to wrap itself around her legs.

‘You’ve come to the wrong place,’ Ronnie said firmly. ‘There’s nothing for you here. Shoo! Find someone else to bother.’

But Sophie had other ideas.

Earlier that week, Ronnie had taken her twenty-month-old daughter for a check-up. She was worried that Sophie wasn’t hitting all the developmental milestones she should be. She was growing. She was actually quite tall for her age. She was steady on her feet. But she still wasn’t saying much. No matter how much time Ronnie spent chatting to her little girl, Sophie remained resolutely silent. Until . . .


Ronnie was so surprised by her daughter’s sudden utterance that she assumed it must have come from someone else. But no, they were alone on the street. No one was hiding in the bushes. Ronnie crouched to fasten Sophie into her pushchair and she said it again.

‘Cat!’ This time she pointed for emphasis.

‘Cat! Cat! Cat!’

Now she had started, there was no stopping her.

The little black cat ventured closer, sensing its chance. Sophie beamed. ‘Cat!’ she said again. ‘Cat!’

Ronnie was ready to cry with tears of utter relief. Sophie ‘cat, cat, catted’ all the way to the shops. Where Ronnie bought a tin of cat food. By the time they got home again – to find the cat sitting right on the doorstep with an air of expectation – Ronnie knew what would happen next. Mark came in from work to discover that his little family had expanded from three to four. The tiny black cat had given Sophie something she felt worth talking about, how could they possibly refuse her a home?


Buy Falling Leaves and Fireworks for Kindle here.

Jo Thomas tells us how her love for the autumnal seaside inspired A RED SKY AT NIGHT

Jo Thomas tells us how her love for the autumnal seaside inspired A RED SKY AT NIGHT

Well, the clocks have gone back. The evenings are darker and autumn is slowly but surely showing us her true colours – red, orange, yellow and gold. I love this time of year; love it! I love the early evening mist as it rolls in through my village, mixing with the smell of wood smoke as log burners are woken and brought back to life after their long summer break.
I love getting wrapped up in big thick sweaters, gloves and hats and getting out in the fresh air. This is the time of year I love to walk my dogs the most and as I walk, the more I find stories start to play out in my head.
And more than any other time of year, it’s the autumn when I find myself drawn to the sea. There’s a beach I go to near us, where dogs aren’t allowed in the summer months. I look forward to the autumn when I can drive over there in my camper van, take the dogs and let them charge around on the soft sand, dipping in and out of the rock pools, chasing seagulls that land. I love the bracing fresh air, watching the dogs run in figures of eight and bound in and out of the little waves. And then what I really love is to cook outdoors, sizzling, spitting sausages on barbeques on the beach or jacket potatoes in the embers of a wood fire, hot juicy hotdogs held in hands covered by fingerless gloves, cheeks glowing from glasses of well-deserved red wine after the exertions of a good walk. I just love it!
This is how I came to the idea of A RED SKY AT NIGHT.  I wanted to write about being by the sea as autumn rolls in on a wave, like Aphrodite riding ashore on her giant shell, on the backs of galloping white horses.
As a child I used to holiday in West Wales, the same two summer weeks, the same long drive and the same campsite every summer. It was wonderful. We loved the freedom we had as kids there, telling our parents we’d be back at teatime. We spent hours crabbing in the rock pools, jumping off the rocks into the deep water and mackerel fishing. They were happy carefree days.
Then last year, I bought Dorothy the camper van and we took it back to that same campsite, where my three children enjoyed the same things I used to as we watched the sun set over the sea. They loved it just as much as I had.
So with the clocks going back, make the most of glorious autumn days. Why not take a walk to the beach and watch the white horses or catch leaves in the woods and make a wish. Sometimes we need to go back to the things we loved as a child to find our way again as an adult.

This weekend is my daughter’s birthday. We have family and friends coming to stay. We’ll be wrapping up warm, taking the dogs along the beach and then lighting a fire in the back garden and eating hotdogs and chilli by the fireside.

Everything changes in the autumn. It may be the end of the summer, but for me, it feels more like a new beginning, like something exciting is waiting just around the corner.


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