Apple & Blackberry Crumble
My mum is my original source of inspiration when it comes to food. Some of my fondest memories are of helping her cook when I was a child, although I’m not sure how much of a help I actually was. I still think cooking is a kind of magic, one of transforming single ingredients into a delicious meal. Crumble is a classic recipe that never loses its joy. Rubbing butter and flour between the tips of your fingers takes me straight back to childhood. This crumble topping is something I was given the task of preparing on many occasions by my mum and also my grandma. To save time, as is always needed in the modern world, the topping, and any other recipe made using the rubbing-in method (shortcrust pastry, scones, etcetera), can be prepared in a food processor. Just a few quick pulses and the breadcrumb texture is there. But the satisfaction of making it by hand, and the memories it brings back, means I often refer back to the hands-on approach. It also saves on washing up.
Stewed apples equally remind me of childhood innocence. Always a comforting end to a Sunday dinner at home with my mum and sister. I’ve included blackberries in this recipe as, although not necessary for a good crumble, my mum’s garden is a great place to find these berries in late summer. This is foraging as close to home as possible. Picking blackberries takes me back to family walks and the usual one for the box one for me tactic that my sister and I employed. Not that we hid our indulgence from my mum and grandparents very well, what with our purple stained hands and mouths.
Adding freshly squeezed lemon juice to the stewed apple gives it a little lift and prevents the pudding becoming too sweet. The crumble topping can be enhanced with the addition of rolled oats or chopped nuts, but I find simplicity is the best route for nostalgia. I’ve topped this crumble with demerara sugar for a crisp, slightly caramelised finish.
Apple & Blackberry Crumble Recipe
3 medium Bramley apples (or any other cooking apple)
a handful of blackberries (about 100g)
1tbsp lemon juice
2tbsp fairtrade golden caster sugar
170g plain flour
45g fairtrade golden caster sugar
85g unsalted butter, cold
2 tbsp fairtrade demerara sugar
1 Heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/ gas 6.
2 Peel, core and cut the apples into wedges. Transfer the apples to a saucepan, add 1tbsp of water, the lemon juice and sugar. Cook on a medium heat with the lid on for 5-8 minutes until softened.
3 Meanwhile, combine the flour and caster sugar in a bowl. Dice the butter then rub it into the dry ingredients between your thumbs and fingers until the mixture looks like large crumbs.
4 Transfer the apples to a 23cm round baking dish and stir in the blackberries until evenly distributed. Cover with the crumble topping, using your hands to spread it until level. Sprinkle the demerara sugar on top.
5 Bake for 30 minutes until the topping is golden and crisp.