WASP roulette. I’m making the case for establishing it as an Olympic sport. If the last month is anything to go by I’m pretty sure I could be world champion.
When we moved to the beautiful village of Hovingham we inherited a small orchard. It’s home to two apple trees that bear prolific fruit.
One of the trees is a ‘Discovery’; rosy red skin that bleeds into the crisp, strawberry tainted flesh when a bite is taken. This early variety puts the supermarket offerings to shame. I have been filling a basket daily and am yet to make a dent on its boughs, I worry that the branches will break under the weight of the fruit.
As summer slips into autumn, I have ever increasing competition for my yield. Drunken, fat, lazy wasps. As I reach up to clutch the crimson fruit, I hold my breath, hoping the bloated buzzers haven’t got there first. I brace myself for the inevitable fingertip sting that will inevitably come – but so far, I have managed to avoid.
It’s wasp roulette…and I am winning…
Recently, I have been working with Hunter’s in Helmsley to develop sweet treats that celebrate the local produce stocked in their award-winning country deli.
The first star on the pedestal is Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil, pressed and bottled in Thixendale on the edge of Hockney’s Yorkshire Wolds.
Rapeseed oil has the lowest saturated fat content of any oil, less than half that of olive oil. It’s a great source of omega 3, 6 and 9, with ten times more omega 3 than olive oil. It’s a great source of vitamin E. Most importantly though, it has a fabulous nutty, earthy depth of flavour which works perfectly in both sweet and savoury recipes.
Christine Garnett, the owner at Hunters has been keen to develop a range of goodies for the health conscious. We’ve already ticked the vegan, gluten and dairy-free boxes. The latest addition to their well-stocked counter will be a pecan, date and banana muffin. Made with wholemeal flour and lightly sweetened with honey, they contain no refined sugar. The star of the show, however is the rapeseed oil, which subtly introduces an autumnal flavour.
I was so please with these buns that I decided to tweak my spiced apple muffin recipe to incorporate the oil. These muffins are an old favourite, and super simple to make. The first bake to win gold at The Great Taste Awards for my café, (eight more would follow).
I like to use a mixture of apples. Sweet and tart, eaters or cookers, it really doesn’t matter. Raisins can be substituted for chopped medjool dates, prunes or sultanas. Add a few walnuts if the mood takes you…
I like to cook my muffins in lined Dariole tins, but a regular muffin tin is fine if you don’t have any.
The recipe also works well as an eight-inch cake.

RECIPE: Spiced apple muffins

450g peeled and diced apples
200g caster sugar
4 lightly beaten free range eggs
150ml Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
275g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
250g plump raisins
A little demerara sugar

Line a muffin tin or twelve Dariole moulds with baking cases or parchment.
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Combine the diced apple and sugar in a bowl.
In a jug, mix together the oil, eggs and vanilla. Pour this gloopy mixture over the apples and sugar. Stir through with a spatula.
Sieve the flour, baking powder and cinnamon into the apples. Add the salt. Bring the mixture together with the spatula, taking care not to smash the apples.
Throw in the raisins, give the batter a final stir before spooning the mixture into the prepared cases.
Sprinkle each muffin with a little demerara sugar before baking for approximately 25 minutes. Smaller muffins will take less time, a cake longer. The muffins should be golden and well risen. A skewer should come out clean when inserted into the centre.

Sophie Smith runs Bakehouse in the Barn and prepares bespoke sweets, cakes and puddings to order in Hovingham.
Sophie also attends Ampleforth Village Market on the last Saturday of every month.

See BakeHouse Barn on Facebook. Bakehouseinthebarn on Instagram or email bakehouseinthebarn@gmail.com for details.

Food styling and photography by Victoria Harley (vjhphoto.com/victoriahphoto on Instagram)

Call in to Hunters of Helmsley to buy Sophie’s pecan, date and banana muffins or pick up a recipe card and the ingredients in store to make your own.