Blackberry picking: Apple and Blackberry Crumble

Blackberries As a child, autumn was one of my favourite times of year. Going back to school was much eased by the fact that there were blackberries available for eating on nearby hedges, crab apples down the fields to be gathered and plenty of field mushrooms to be picked. This year, Little Missy in her sling for our daily walks, trying to grab any bramble that comes near her, we’ve been keeping an eye out for plump sloes and watching as the elderberries ripen, while eating lots of blackberries.

Last weekend we visited the Galway-based Schoolfriend. A chunk of Saturday afternoon was spent picking blackberries near her house, her three-year-old holding the bowl for us as the Husband, Schoolfriend and I picked the sweet, inky berries. Her 14-month-old kept an eagle eye on proceedings from the pushchair and Little Missy enjoyed the activity as their two dogs ‘helped’, grabbing mouthfuls of blackberries for themselves.

Back at the house, the Husband peeled and chopped a few apples and a couple of pears from their tree outside. The fruit was popped into the oven to soften while the three-year-old and I made a simple crumble topping: a big bowl for me, small one for him so we could both get our hands messy, rubbing the butter into the flour, then mixing it with the sugar and oats. We tossed the apple/pear mixture with a little sugar, a shake of cinnamon and the blackberries, spread the crumble over and landed it into the oven, just vacated by the Schoolfriend’s Shepherd’s Pie. It’s easy to make dinner when there are a few people involved!

Apple and Blackberry Crumble
This is the recipe I use for crumble – you can use cooking or eating apples or, indeed, any kind of fruit that you like. Elderberries are particularly good with apples at this time of the year. Add a couple of spoonfuls of hot water to the fruit if you think it may not be juicy enough. What you’re aiming for here is bubbling fruit under a crunchy topping.

Apples – approx 750g, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
Blackberries – approx 250g, rinsed
Sugar – approx 2 tablespoons, depending on how tart your fruit is
Cinnamon – 1 heaped teaspoon
Self raising flour – 100g
Butter – 150g
Porridge oats – 100g
Demerara sugar – 100g

Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C. Mix the fruit together in a deep ovenproof dish. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon and toss. Place in the oven to soften for 10 minutes while you get the crumble topping ready.

Rub the butter into the flour then add the oats and demerara sugar. Mix well. If you’re ready to cook the crumble – but not beforehand – sprinkle the topping over the fruit, ensuring that it is well covered.

Place in the oven and cook for 35-40 minutes until juices are bubbling around the edges and the crumble is brown and crisp.

Serve hot or warm with natural yoghurt, cream or crème fraiche.

Serves 6-8.

Caroline

Caroline

Food writer. Broadcaster. Blogger. Author. Married to Eight Degrees Brewing. Member of the Irish Food Writers' Guild, founder of Irish Food Bloggers Association and co-author of Sláinte: The Complete Guide to Irish Craft Beer & Cider (New Island)

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8 Responses

  1. Lucinda says:

    Hi, I have been given a big bag of cooking apples – the only problem with them is that they go off very quickly – I was thinking of peeling them all and partially cooking them with some blackberries and freezing them in crumble/pie sized portions for winter emergencies. do you think they will be okay or should I make up individual pies/crumbles now?

  2. Caroline says:

    Lucky you – it’s always good to have a bag of cooking apples at your disposal! When I’ve a glut of fruit like that, I find it’s easiest to just prepare and freeze it raw. Then I can use the fruit in whatever recipe – sweet or savoury – in the future. There’s a bag of prepared plums in the freezer at the moment awaiting such a fate (chutney, crumble or jam: can’t make up my mind just yet!)I wouldn’t make up the crumbles now as I find it’s best to keep the fruit and topping separate until just before you’re about to cook it. If you want to be super-organised, you could always make tarts (pastry doesn’t get soggy like the crumble would) with the raw fruit, freeze and then cook from frozen. Do be careful of your tart dish if it is ceramic or pyrex although I have to say my mother (the queen of apple tarts as well as scones) puts her pie dishes from the freezer into the oven all the time with no problems.

  3. Lucinda says:

    Thanks -I like your idea better much better than mine – it involves less work this evening!

  4. Amanda says:

    I adore crumble! Your recipe sounds amazing, can’t wait to try it. Unfortunately, I don’t have too many berry bushes near my apartment in Dublin, but I might have to visit a friend in the countryside to stock up!

  5. Donal says:

    Hey Caroline!You beat me to it! Went out on the hunt for blackberries on the weekend but still a little small for me! Gonna try again on Saturday! 🙂

  6. Caroline says:

    Amanda: keep an eye out, you never know where blackberries may turn up in the city. There were brambles down the end of the garden at several of the flats I lived in, not very much admittedly, but still enough to grab a few mouthfuls of sweetness!Donal: I was amazed that we got so many good blackberries last weekend. I do think that they ripen much faster around that part of Galway: the ones around here aren’t quite as sweet although still worth picking.

  7. Anna says:

    Said 3-year old is still telling everyone that he made the crumble, or ‘rumble’ as he calls it……delighted with himself.We are going to make queen cakes tomorrow……icing an’all! Will let you know how it goes.

  8. Caroline says:

    I can just imagine him diving straight into your bowl, especially if there’s something that tastes nice to lick from it! At least rubbing butter into flour doesn’t give many opportunities for sneeky tastings.As you can see, our blackberries were a little behind the ones around your place but they’ve more than made up for it. Little Missy and I have very stop-start walks these days as we just have to keep picking them! LM enjoys trying to catch the brambles and nettles at the same time as I’m leaning in to get stray berries.Good luck with the queen cakes – or should we be calling them cupcakes these days?! They were always just buns in our house when we were small.

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