Fancy putting a fruity twist on traditional afternoon tea? Try out this fantastic Pear and Walnut Scones recipe by Edinburgh-based baking blogger Victoria Pitkin-Blogg, the 21st Century Urban Housewife, who has been making sweet, summery treats from her Fruitdrop seasonal fruit box delivery.
350g all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
1 tablespoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
113g cold butter, diced
160ml buttermilk, milk or single cream
90g pear, diced (not too ripe)
35g walnuts, roughly chopped
Splash of milk and handful of Demerara sugar for topping (optional)
1. Pre-heat your oven to 220°C.
2. In a large bowl sift the flour, baking powder, granulated sugar and salt.
3. Gently rub the flour mixture through the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs.
4. Toss the pear chunks and walnuts into the mixture.
5. In a small bowl or measuring jug, beat together the egg and milk then add this to the mixture. Working quickly, combine until the dough comes together.
6. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and pat into a disc about 3/4 inches thick.
7. Cut out rounds of approx.1.5 inches and place on a lined baking sheet about an inch apart.
8. Brush some milk (or an egg wash) over the top of each scone and generously sprinkle with Demerara sugar (optional)
9. Bake in preheated over 12-15 minutes until golden brown on the top and bottom.
Edinburgh-based baking blogger Victoria Pitkin-Blogg – also known as the 21st Century Urban Housewife – has been rustling up some fantastic fruity recipes for us here at Fruitdrop using the contents of our seasonal fruit boxes.
Wondering what to do with those leftover bananas that are starting to turn? Try Victoria’s super-sweet and delicious Jazzy Banana Loaf.
For the base
1 perfectly ripe banana
2 tablespoons of dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon of butter
For the cake
350g plain flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
2 large over-ripe bananas
155g white sugar
160ml vegetable or sunflower oil
1. Pre-heat the oven to 160°C and grease a 2lb loaf tin.
2. Slice the perfectly ripe banana into long, 1/4cm slices and arrange over the base of the loaf tin. Sprinkle with the dark brown sugar and pieces of butter then set aside.
3. In a large bowl, mash the over-ripe bananas with a fork, add the sugar and oil and mix until well combined.
4. Add the two eggs one at a time and mix.
5. In a separate bowl sift the plain flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Add to the banana mixture and stir until combined.
6. Pour the mixture over the bananas in loaf tin and bake for 50-60 minutes until golden brown and a skewer/knife comes out clean.
On Monday morning, van no. 31 hits the road. This will mainly cover central London and will help to take the strain off a couple of our other London routes that are creaking! Our 32nd van is already on order and should arrive either late next month or early June as part of changes we are making to our deliveries around Hampshire and Dorset.
Not only do adding vans to our fleet keep us busy, they also seem to keep our competitors busy as it seems that some of them have a pastime of following our vans. A month or two ago, our Oxford van had a car follow him for a large proportion of his route, only to drive off when he approached it. Funnily enough, our clients received a complimentary delivery from that competitor a few days later. Then this week, one of our Manchester vans had a car follow it. Having been followed before, our driver held back at some traffic lights until they were just about to change and then went through so that the car following could not continue – we like to spoil the competition’s fun!
Maybe it is sour grapes (pun intended!) but we really question the ethics of following around our competitors and in our humble opinion it somewhat suggests desperation on their part. Whilst we always welcome new work and enquiries, we are more than busy enough not to employ such tactics. Furthermore, their antics appear to be fruitless (pun intended again!) as our clients in those areas remain with us.
According to an article in The Times on Saturday (see below), it seems that there is at least one good outcome of the recent cold snap in form of an expected bumper apple crop. The cold weather is delaying this year’s apple blossoms. This should mean that the flowers are more likely to appear when bees are active, resulting in increased pollination and an enlarged apple crop. This is indeed good news and the complete opposite to last year where the premature warm spell resulted in blossoms appearing before the bees were active.
Today sees our 30th van hit the road. To cope with growing demand, it will spend most of its time covering central London. In an effort to raise a smile on the faces of other motorists sitting in traffic around the capital, it carries our normal slogan on the back doors.
We are not expecting it will be too long before no. 31 will be required.
When I started the business, we used some space at Borough Market donated by the primary fruit wholesaler that we continue to work with today. Whilst Borough Market was a lovely place to work with the hustle and bustle of the many food stalls there and other market activity, the stands were open-sided, providing little shelter from the elements for either our packing team or our fruit on a cold and/or windy day. Since the wholesale businesses were removed from Borough Market about two years ago, we operate from a railway arch just down the road in Bermondsey. It can be considered quite cosy and weatherproof compared to Borough Market. Although there is not the same hustle and bustle, the trains passing overhead remind us of life outside!
As the MD of the company, I am now based in Bristol as a result of the way the company has expanded and me moving around the country to set up different bases. Today, I had to visit our London base to catch up with my Service Delivery Manager who oversees our packing operation including delivery drivers for London and the South East. As we are unsure if the arch would be fit for purpose when we moved in, rather than having a purpose built office constructed within the arch, we opted for the easier and mobile approach of a garden shed! It works perfectly and upon arrival today, I set myself up in there. Not that I use it as a watch tower, it normally provides a good view of proceedings. I was busy trying to deal with a few unfinished admin jobs from earlier in the week and when I looked up, I was met with the view in the attached photo. Is somebody try to tell me something!?!?!
It is just over six years since I started the company and delivered our first box. This was from our original base at Borough Market in London with one van and me driving it! Since then, we have grown just a little bit. We now have forty-eight employees and twenty-nine vans. After building a solid foundation for the business in London, I moved to Birmingham, then Glasgow, then Manchester and most recently Bristol to open bases so that we can offer as complete a nationwide service as possible. As I am sure most who know me will confirm, I have a strong work ethic and am very hands on with the running of the business. Throughout that six years I have answered every ‘phone call and dealt with every service-related email that has come in. Whilst I certainly want to retain this level of involvement, I am beginning to appreciate my limits in terms of being able to handle all of this myself, especially following the uplift in workload as a result of our relatively new workplace milk delivery service.
So, I need some help! We are recruiting for a Client Service Administrator who can work closely with me here in Bristol to deal with all client-facing administrative aspects of our business. The job advertisement for this new role is attached. Going by our growth to date, this role will certainly grow and additional responsibility will inevitably be forthcoming. I fully expect this role to grow into a management position over the next five years also for the right candidate.
I look forward to reviewing the applications and meeting the candidates over the coming weeks.
Ben Thompson, Managing Director
Our vans and drivers have just finished their busiest month ever. During January and despite the snow, they delivered 13,314 boxes across the UK mainland. From Ayr on the West coast of Scotland to Yeovil in Somerset (sorry could not think of a location we deliver to beginning with Z!), we aim to cover as much of the UK mainland as possible so that it is not just workplaces in the larger cities and towns that can enjoy our workplace fruit delivery service. All of our boxes are delivered by our own drivers and van fleet as we feel that with fruit needing to be handled with care, we as opposed to postal/courier services are best placed to deliver it.
As a result of the surge in new business, January also saw us place an order for our 30th van, which will be delivered and hit the road in March. It will predominantly cover the City of London, north London and Hertfordshire. We already have a driver lined up for this new van, who has worked for us before and is joining us again after time off to recover from a foot injury – not caused by dropping one of our fruit boxes on his foot we should add!
If you are not lucky enough to have an employer who provides you with our fruit, then our vans can still make you happy. Just follow one and hopefully our slogan on the back doors to deter any fruit thieves (“no bananas are left in this van overnight”) will bring a smile to your face. One passer-by was obviously sufficiently amused by the slogan to take a photo and as a result, our month ended with the pictured entry in the Daily Mail. Thank you to the amused photographer, Bob Bailey.
Food writer Elly McCausland from Nutmegs, seven, eats fruit with every meal and has created some fruity recipes to inspire you to eat your five a day. Try this fruity snack as a breakfast treat and enjoy two of your five a day before the day has even started!
Spiced apple and cranberry toast with ricotta and thyme (serves 1):
•2-3 slices of bread
•2tsp brown sugar
•1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
•1/2 tsp ground ginger
•2 small apples
•A small handful of dried cranberries or raisins
•100g ricotta cheese
•A few sprigs of lemon thyme
•1-2 tbsp chopped walnuts or pecans
Get the bread ready in the toaster while you make the apples. Heat the butter and sugar in a small non-stick pan until foaming and bubbling. Add the spices. Quarter and core the apples, then cut into thin slices. Add to the pan along with the cranberries, and cook over a high heat until softened and caramelised in places – this should take around 10 minutes. Turn the heat down once they are caramelised to let them soften some more.
Toast the bread and spread with the ricotta cheese. Pick the leaves from the thyme and sprinkle over the ricotta. Spoon the hot apples over the cheese and sprinkle with the nuts. Serve immediately.
Sandrae, blogger and cocktail enthusiast from The Cocktail Lovers, has created inspiring recipes to help use up leftover fruit. We think these delicious fruit infusions would make great Christmas gifts!
It’s easy to add a delicious and personal touch to cocktail recipes with homemade infusions. Here’s how:
Although you can create all sorts of wonderful infusions with any spirit, including rum, gin and tequila, we suggest getting started with vodka. Why? As a neutral spirit it allows the fruit to really show off its natural flavour. You don’t have to go mad on a super-premium vodka but neither should you go for anything too cheap and cheerful. Try something in between like Russian Standard, Smirnoff or Absolut for best results.
As far as preparation goes, for tough-skinned fruit such as bananas, pineapples mangos, kiwis or melons, remove the skin then chop into small pieces. Softer skinned fruits such as peaches, plums and apples simply need to be washed then chopped up into smallish chunks and for berries, all you have to do is remove any greenery, wash and leave whole.
With the prep out of the way, place the fruit into a screw top or Kilner jar (make sure it’s thoroughly sterilised – a hot spin in a dishwasher does the trick) and top up with the vodka. Give the jar a little shake and leave in a cool, dark place to impart its fruity goodness for a few days – three to seven should do the trick but taste every day to check (you’ll know when it’s ready). When it is, strain through a muslin cloth to remove the fruit and any impurities. Decant into a sterilised bottle and it’s ready to add to your cocktail recipes. These homemade infusions are great to sip neat, over ice or drizzled over some ice cream for an indulgent dessert.