Apple and blackberry crumble

Apple and blackberry crumble

I am not a great one for puddings but with three boys in the house, I am very much outnumbered.  Most of the puddings I make are simple and are made to accompany Sunday lunch.  Furthermore, most of our puddings are really straightforward and usually involve fruit that is either from our garden, a neighbour’s garden or found during a walk with the dog.   Today we had an apple and blackberry crumble.  We have a variety of preferred accompaniments, such as ice cream or double cream.  Today it was custard.  Lots of it.

I don’t fiddle with the recipe in any way – you are welcome to add cinnamon add some extra sugar but despite enjoying puddings in our house, the boys don’t really like anything too sweet!  The apples were given to us by a neighbour, so I don’t even know what variety they are. Having said that they are a dessert apple and not a cooking apple.  Some varieties of dessert apple almost disappear into a mushy pulp when cooked.  Today’s’ apples however retained some of their texture and didn’t disappear.  Oh, and I don’t add any additional fluid or sugar to the fruit at all – I don’t find that I really need to, but you can if you want to.

apples

our neighbour's apples

I have cheated on the blackberries though.  Each year we go berrying and although there are indeed a few ripe fruit along the hedgerows at the moment, most of the blackberries found round here will not be ready for a few more weeks yet.    So the berries I used today are those I found at the back of a freezer drawer left over from last year.  I am sure that must be contrary to ‘freezer laws’ but we are all still here – and no stomach upsets I’ll have you know.

Ingredients

Apples, peeled and sliced, to fill the bowl to about two thirds depth.
Blackberries, thrown in frozen or just freshly picked, your call.

For the crumble topping,
8 oz plain flour
8oz sugar – I like to use golden caster sugar, but you can use white caster sugar, or soft brown sugar.
6oz unsalted butter, cold and cubed
1-2oz rolled oats (optional) the big ones, which give a chewy texture to the topping when cooked
½ teaspoon cinnamon (again optional – I usually forget)

Method

For the topping a whizz the cold butter and the flour in a processor (I don’t have time to use my fingers, trust me), until the butter and flour resemble large breadcrumbs with an occasional large ‘crumb’ of butter, and then transfer the mix to a bowl, stirring in the rest of the ingredients.  Done.

The crumble mix I have adapted over the years.  I make a fairly large quantity at a time, bagging it up and putting it into the freezer, just using enough mix over the crumble at any one time.

apples2

Preparing the fruit

apples-and-blackberries

Just a handful of blackberries

I then peel the apples and slice them (not too thinly) and layer them in the dish, to about two thirds in depth.  I then sprinkle over a handful of blackberries (you don’t need many) and then cover all of the fruit with a good layer of crumble topping.  I have fiddled with the topping over the years, trying to make sure it is perfect, either by shaking flat or by pressing it down but I have finally concluded that the best way is to just pour the mix over the top so that all of the fruit is covered and leave it be.  The topping becomes much crunchier and chewy (my favourite) if just left alone. Besides, fiddling with it results in the crumble mix making its way to the bottom of the dish resulting in a soggy mess.  Finally, if I remember, I sprinkle some Demerara sugar over the top before putting it into the oven. I can’t remember why  exactly – I am sure my mother in law once told me to and it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Crumble topping

Crumble topping

About 40 minutes on 180  is about the right time. In the Rayburn I don’t tend to time things much, but it is usually done at the same time as the roast potatoes. The crumble topping will be golden and the juice of the cooked fruit bubbling over the side of the dish.  It is just as well that Rayburns don’t need a lot of cleaning.  Today however, the sticky fruit juices of the crumble bubbled over quite furiously so that we had blackberry flavoured roast potatoes. Nobody noticed.  And we wouldn’t have been that bothered if we had.   Delia  wouldn’t be impressed. Ah well.

And that’s about it.  It was lovely. Callum’s favourite. I hope he didn’t find swimming training to hard after the huge helping he had this afternoon!

How about Blackberry Gin next time?