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.