Blackberry And Apple Crumble

crumble1.JPGAugust 2008 - This summer's crop of blackberries has started well and looks like it's going to continue in like manner.

crumble1.JPGI went out for a stroll and in a few minutes, picked a couple of kilos of the biggest, juiciest blackberries I've ever seen. I decided to use some of them in a good old favourite pudding - blackberry and apple crumble.

The Recipe

Ingredients:

  • At least 200g of wild blackberries
  • Two or three dessert apples
  • 200g plain white flour (or half white and half wholemeal)
  • 140g granulated or caster sugar
  • 100g butter
  • 50g rolled oats
  • A couple of tablespoons of brown sugar

Method:

crumble2.JPGPut a layer of blackberries in a large, ovenproof dish.

My blackberries were so plump and juicy, I decided to make just a single neat layer, but there's no reason why they can't be piled in much deeper than this if you like - it's up to you.

crumble3.JPGCover with a layer of thinly-sliced, or diced apple (after removing the peel and core).

Sprinkle on a little brown sugar.

Some people like to pre-cook the apple a little before assembling the dish - and there's nothing wrong with that - I prefer to put it in raw - it will cook when the dish is baked, but it will stay mostly intact.

crumble4.JPGPut the flour, butter, sugar and oats in a food processor and mix until combined to a crumb-like texture.

If you don't have a food mixer, the flour, oats and butter may be rubbed together by hand until crumbly, then the sugar can be mixed in.

Then just spoon the topping mixture over the fruit - try not to pack it down, or it will bake into a solid cookie - level it out, then rough up the top gently with a fork

crumble5.JPGBake in a medium oven until the top goes toasty brown

If you use a glass dish like this one, you'll be able to see that the fruit has cooked in the bottom.

It's not unusual for the fruit to bubble up and erupt through the edges of the topping (although it didn't happen here) - this might look a bit messy if it happens, but it doesn't spoil the eating qualities of the dish - in fact the fruit juices may caramelise in this case and sometimes people fight over that bit.

crumble6.JPGServe piping hot with thick cream, or custard, or ice cream, or anything else you can think of.

I served this one with some good vanilla ice cream and a couple of dollops of clotted cream with brandy. Yum.

Of course, the recipe can be used with almost any other fruit - apple alone is quite nice, peach and pineapple is an interesting change, but - for me at least - blackberry and apple is the one to which they are all compared.

Storing Away The Summer

crumble8.JPGWhenever I go picking, I always come back with far more blackberries than I need for a single meal, but fortunately, they can be frozen - they lose a bit of their shape on thawing and they'll never be the same as fresh-picked fruits, but they're still pretty good.

I'm sure this sounds a bit twee, but whenever I use one of my bags of frozen blackberries - particularly if it's on a dark, dreary winter's day, I always feel like I'm opening a little packet of sunshine.

Pick Your Own!

crumble7.JPGBlackberries grow abundantly nearly everywhere - my mind boggles at the thought of it - such abundant free food - and yet so often ignored.

If these delicious, juicy, aromatic little treats were sold in the shops, people would pay a fortune for them.

Wait... they are sold in the shops and people do pay a fortune for them - equivalent to 12 quid a kilo. Twelve British Pounds per kilogram of blackberries. Unbelievable.

WAKE UP PEOPLE! You're paying through the nose for something you could pick from the hedge in the supermarket car park (actually, that's probably not the best place to pick them, but maybe you get the point).

One more thing. Those blackberries you get in the refrigerated fruit section of the supermarket will never be as fragrant and delicious as wild blackberries, eaten within an hour or two of picking.

This really is one of those cases where there is a vast difference between what you can buy and what you can gather for yourself.

Try it. I promise you won't be disappointed.

 

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