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Toffee Apple Tarts, 3 years of blogging and a refresh!

At the bottom of our garden, we have an imposing Bramley apple tree, planted during the ‘Dig for Britain’ campaign during the second world war. Last year, British crops suffered and there were hardly any apples at all. This year, and following a good prune, we seem to have our apples back – big and shiny and rosy on the edge receiving sunlight.  Since we also had an apple tree in our back garden growing up at home, apples conjure up comforting memories of cinnamon-spiked apple pies, cakes and crumbles. Apples can also be useful loot to swap for other homegrown produce. Since it’s Bonfire Night tonight, we’ve made some Toffee Apple Tarts and if time allows, a Spiced Toffee Apple Cake will also await lashings of custard. I’ve also written a post over at JamieOliver.com highlighting some other Bonfire Night treats you might like to try.

Bramley Apples

Blog Refresh

My blog has had a little refresh and you’ll have probably noticed a few changes. The main change is the installation of a new WordPress theme called Foodie, cleverly designed by Shay Bocks, offering some very neat features, such as updated coding and a customised home & recipe page with improved plugins and features. I still have quite a big job to do with my post categories, so over the next week or so, there may be a little maintenance going on. I have also had a refreshed header installed, which I think is fun – I love my bowl of seasonal plums. My existing logo and old header, designed by Miss Foodwise and husband Bruno, have been updated and will get an upgrade to Ren Behan Food – a new site (also under construction) which will become home to some examples of my freelance work.

Ren Behan Banner
New site coming soon!

3 Years of Blogging

I almost missed my blogging anniversary! As I began to type this post, I remembered that I published my first post, Hello World, on 2nd November 2010 – back then, my blog was called Fabulicious Food!  Starting a blog and hitting publish placed me on the path of a great adventure. I’ve made so many friends as a consequence of starting this little food blog. I’ve also had opportunities to cook with and receive help, advice and words of wisdom from some of the people I most admire in the world of food. Perhaps as a result of sticking at something I love doing very much, I’m now settling into a freelance writing and recipe development career.

Things I’ve learnt along the way

I have learnt that it takes time to build a community and to build up new skills. Although I always loved to cook, I had no idea how to translate a love of food into recipe writing and I had only ever used a camera to take holiday and family shots. I’ve read lots of books and other blogs – including It Starts With Food by Diane Jacob and The Recipe Writer’s Handbook by Barbaba Gibbs Ostmann. I have also studied food magazines, taken courses, and have developed my own way of describing how to cook something or bake something.

Many bloggers expect to start blogging, generate attention and become a success overnight. I’d say, don’t expect readership to happen overnight. A blog will grown over time. Keep going and crucially, if you begin to value your time and your worth, you can turn blogging for fun into something more than a hobby. My best advice is to keep moving forward  – don’t be afraid of change or of trying something new. Set yourself some targets, don’t just accept every offer that comes your way – analyse what you are being asked to do, to create,  to write and then decide if it is worth it. If you decide to work with brands, be aware when commercial companies (who pay PR’s to contact you!) are trying to get something for nothing and don’t sell yourself short. Learn how to negotiate and very importantly, make an effort to understand some of the legal aspects of blogging. For example, always be honest and disclose to your readers whether you have received something for free or as an incentive to write about a certain topic or product. State clearly if you have been paid to feature a brand, a product, a recipe, a video, or have been asked to include links to specific pages. Blogging, both as a means of communication and an extension of social media is changing rapidly – make sure you keep up with any significant changes and always be aware that as a blogger you are ultimately an ‘influencer’ – tread carefully. That being said, the best and most successful blogs (in my view) are the ones written by people who truly love writing and communicating and who see blogging and tending to a blog as a creative process rather than a money-making scheme.

Apple Tarts

Toffee Apple Tarts

Ren Behan
Easy to bake toffee apple tartlets using British Bramley apples
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine British
Servings 12


  • 375 g sweet shortcrust pastry ready to roll is fine
  • 4 large cooking apples
  • 50 g butter
  • 125 g light soft brown sugar plus extra for sprinkling
  • 2 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 1 tablespoon double cream optional
  • A little butter for greasing the tin
  • A sprinkle of flour for the pastry board


  • Grease a 12-hole muffin tin with a small amount of butter. Sprinkle some flour onto a board and roll out the pastry. Cut out 12 circles of pastry and carefully place each disc into a hole in the tin and press down gently. Place the pastry-lined tin in the fridge whilst you make the apples.
  • Peel, core and dice the apples. Place them into a large pan. Add the butter, sugar and golden syrup cook for five minutes. Take off the heat and add the double cream, if using. Pour any excess toffee sauce into a cup so that the apples are just coated.
  • Take the pastry-lined tin out of the fridge and spoon some toffee coated apples into each tart. Sprinkle the apples with a little extra sugar. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden and bubbling. Remove from the tin and serve whilst warm.

What do you think makes a successful blog? I’d love to know your thoughts…

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  4. 5 stars
    A little late in my comment, but a massive congratulations for 3 years as a fabulously creative, generous, informed and inspiring blogger, with huge integrity and drive. I STILL haven’t done the self-hosting thing, let alone had a blog makeover. I can only be awed by your get up and go. *sigh* (I may send you a DM about the pros and cons of self-hosting if you don’t mind!)

    And so good to read your thoughts on blogging. Even though we cover quite different recipes for the most part, I believe we are very much alike at heart with our approach (or I’d like to think so). It is quite easy to be swept up in the pr stuff, but so much more satisfying to be true to your own blogging ethos. I know that with every visual change to your blog that you will always be true to yourself – no makeover/update needed 😀

  5. Hi Ren, I’ve been reading and enjoying your blog for a while now, but have never commented. Just wanted to congratulate you on your three-year anniversary. It’s interesting to read your reflections on your blogging journey. My lifestyle blog is just a few months old and it feels like there’s just so much to learn (even though I’ve been a journalist for many years – blogging is really quite a different beast!). It’s nice to see bloggers with integrity like yourself doing so well, evolving, creating beautiful things and reaping the rewards. Well done!

    1. Ren Behan says:

      Hi Julie, how lovely of you to comment, I really appreciate it. Yes blogging is different to journalism, although hopefully the writing aspect will be easy for you. There are a lot of things to learn and understand but I believe blogging will continue to be a valuable tool for communication in the future. I wish you well with your lifestyle blog x

  6. Congrats Ren on your blog anniversary! Hopping into your blog on the recommendation of Sally of My Custard Pie, regarding a casual discussion we had amongst blogger friends – how much to accept/how much to do for free! I did spend a lot of time in your blog now and really loved it. I am a serious blogger, and a lot of thoughts resonate with mine. Good wishes to you:)

    Warmest Regards – Ishita

    1. Ren Behan says:

      Thank you so much Ishita for popping over to visit via Sally – she is such a lovely person x

  7. Really love the new site Ren. Oddly enough I’m getting a new Foodie one this week from Shay too. Coincidence! Congrats on 3 years of blogging too – its amazing to think what a journey 3 years of blogging can take you on – here’s to 3 more… and 3 more…

    1. Ren Behan says:

      Wow I’m sure it will look brilliant, Shay is very clever 🙂

  8. 5 stars
    It’s been such a pleasure to know you through some of your blogging journey Ren. I love your honesty and ambition in equal measure. The pictures of the apple gathering are just beautiful. I feel rather wistful. Congratulations on 3 amazing years and I love the new look – especially the bowl of plums.

  9. The blog is looking really professional Ren and I love those little tarts.

  10. Totally inspired looking at how much you’ve achieved in 3 years of blogging. And I really like the look of those little tarts! We planted a Bramley apple tree in the area cleared by our pigs last year but our harvest this year is one precious apple – we’d been deliberating over how best to use it and I think this could just be the perfect recipe. Luckily we have a plentiful supply of apples from Granny to go with the lone apple otherwise my baking may be a bit pitiful!

    1. Ren Behan says:

      Thanks Andrea. One apple – wow – that is precious loot! I;m about to have to take mine to a food swap, I can’t keep up. Perhaps next year there will be more!

  11. Ren, your achievement over the last 3 years of blogging is a big inspiration to all of us! You are definitely an “influencer” these days!

    1. Ren Behan says:

      Lovely to hear from you Mark, thank you!

  12. Congratulations Ren on 3 years of blogging and the new theme. You’ve come a long way since and and I wish you more continued success. Well done. Bx

    1. Ren Behan says:

      Thank you so much Bethany and thank you SO much for the lovely comment x

  13. Congratulations on your site refresh and anniversary! The tarts look amazing and I’m definitely going to make them soon. Thank you very much for your words, I’ve just started a blog and it can get overwhelming, but it does take time, dedication and foremost love.

    1. Ren Behan says:

      Thank you Cristina for stopping by to say Hi. Good luck growing your blog! I’ll pop over and visit x

        1. Ren Behan says:

          No worries at all x

  14. Renatka,,
    First of all- huge congratulation on your 3 year anniversary!! I love new look of your blog. This is so, so perfect!!!! For past few months I have been stewing on the idea of starting a food blog. I love to cook and I am very much interested in learning more about food photography but my writing skills are somewhat limited despite living in US for a long time ( I am Polish). I decided to do it just for pure fun/entertainment and also as a way of challenging myself. Last night I spent quite a few hours deciphering the logistic of the starting a food blog; platforms; hosting, etc… and here was your post reviling tips about blogging as well as the name of the theme that you used. Love the ” coincident ” So… many, many thanks!!!! and the tarts look divine!!!!

    1. Ren Behan says:

      Hi Joanna,

      Thank you so much for visiting. The only way is to take the plunge and start a blog. That being said, it is good to do a bit of research as to blogging platforms and themes. The good news is that it is so much easier now that there is more choice available. If you do start a blog, let me know and I’ll come and read! It’s nice to blog about heritage – there are lots of great blogs that I read in Polish – the Poles are actually very good at blogging, they are very creative.

      Dziekuje za komentarz x

  15. Love those little tarts. I have so many apples from our Apple day at the orchard that I may rustle them up for my girls this evening.
    Your blog was one of the first I visited. I think what makes a good blog is content that feels true and not buried under PR messages or other agendas. As you’ve highlighted, it’s so easy to fall into what others do and be exploited for your voice so your lessons are such valuable gifts shared with us all.
    Thank you for blogging. I love visiting and your simple recipes are great.

    1. Ren Behan says:

      Hi Urvashi, it’s amazing to think about all of the connections we make through blogging, whether it’s watching the GBBO (as I watched you!) and then connecting through a blog or finding something new and interesting to read. It’s all good fun. Couldn’t agree more – content is King!

  16. Congratulations Ren both on your three years of blogging and the new look. Love your bowl of plums. Those tarts sound rather good too.

    A good writing style is nice to have, but I’m more interested in bloggers who have integrity and you know you can trust them and what they are writing about.

    1. Ren Behan says:

      Thank you so much Choclette for your comment. Agree with the integrity issue – well said x

  17. What a beautiful tree, recipe and new theme! Everything is looking lovely and your hard work has paid off. Happy blog Birthday!

    1. Ren Behan says:

      Thank you Sarah, you know how it is, a few years in and you need huge amounts of motivation to keeps things interesting and inspiring. I still remember that yours was the first food blog I ever read!

  18. “That being said, the best and most successful blogs (in my view) are the ones written by people who truly love writing and communicating and who see blogging and tending to a blog as a creative process rather than a money-making scheme.” – never a truer sentence spoken! If you aren’t doing it for the love of it, go and do something else. Congrats on 3 years of blogging and a fresh new look! Also on having an apple tree in your garden *sob* 😉

    1. Ren Behan says:

      Thank you Jeanne and thank you for your tweets. A lot of Bramley apple tree envy! I appreciate the tree even more now!

  19. Lovely to see you getting so much out of this in 3 years! I have been at it a while too but on a part time basis. It is amazing what friendships and opportunities have arisen. Congrats on your new look blog. The toffee apple tarts look scrumptious. Am off to look at the JO post

    1. Ren Behan says:

      Thank you so much Nazima, yes the friendships are a wonderful aside, it’s great to chat with like-minded people. Hope you enjoy a few fireworks (or don’t mind the loud banging from neighbours!)

  20. Happy birthday to your blog Ren! I totally forgot to mark mine back in May… oops! I love the refresh. I think the most enjoyable blogs are those which stay true to their audience and focus. You can’t beat a good bit of honest writing, stunning pictures and genuinely useful information 🙂

    I have to say I like the look of those toffee apple tarts… I was given some apples from a friend over the weekend and this could very well be one of the recipes I make with them, along with a spot of chutney 🙂

    1. Ren Behan says:

      Thank you so much Katie. I agree, honest writing is key, photography is also something many bloggers are honing in on and looking to improve. I still want to take a food photography course to really understand my camera settings, light, processing etc and that’s after 3 years of taking thousands of food photos and always wanting to improve. Hope you enjoy your apple loot!

  21. How FABULOUS is it that you have a Bramley apple tree in your own garden! Bramleys are my favourite apples and I always buy a truckload when I’m over in the UK. Love the new blog theme, good luck on your further plans x

    1. Ren Behan says:

      Thank you so much Regula, part two and new site coming soon. I loved your parkin post, popping back with a cup of tea to have another read xxx

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