One of my favourite things about the forthcoming season is the fruit fall that’s all around us. There is an abundant glut of bough heavy fruits and colourful berries about to explode with ripeness into our harvest. We’re fans of pick your own, foraging and the wee ones are dab hands at scrumping.. It’s a rite of passage I think…
Heavily scented fresh autumn apples and plump juicing blackberries are typically sweet buttery crumble territory, best served steaming with hot creamy custard. Beautiful gentle green and blushed goosegogs, which make a stonking tart jam to have with wedges of crumbly Wensleydale. What about pears, plums, mulberries, damsons who also make great jams, perfect for filling cakes or tucking into cobblers, pies and puddings. There’s still sloes to come and quince next month – the former being a deadringer for a blueberry but so much better pricked and bathed languorously in Mothers Ruin. Who doesn’t love a warming nip of Sloe Gin when the days are short and glittering with frost? Quince is another perfect pair for savoury slices, cold cuts or cheeses.
Where shall we start? I’m going to share a couple of recipes for this season, tried and tested (and loved and finished by 3 menfolk of the house).
First up, a staple because if you don’t already make your own here’s our favourite plate scraper.
Scrumpers Tip: If you are all for free food make sure you dunk these in cold water for some time to see if any residents emerge from your bounty. Apples can be peeled, cored and quartered and popped in a freezer bag in the portion size you would cook in. I’ve never met a bunch of blackberries who didn’t need a good ‘rehoming’ – just sayin’.
Apple & Blackberry Crumble
A lot of what I cook for the family has my mothers air of ‘I just know’ about it so I’ve had to go slow and make notes as I go to get a recipe for something ‘I just do’. I start with the crumble as it can sit and the apples don’t loiter very well, they get a brown tinge to them once they’re cut and the acid hits the air.
Apple & Blackberry Crumble topping:
12 oz plain flour (it works with Doves plain flour too)
6 oz butter (I like Willow particularly as it has a buttery taste and makes a subtle ‘chew’ to the top—not the sort you’ll lose a tooth in)
2 or 3 oz rolled oats
4oz Demerara sugar
Combine the flour and butter creating lots of lift when rubbing in. I pick up in the palm area and ‘drop’ it out through the fingertips, brushing it through my fingertips thumbs starting at small fingertips and working in. Once you have fine breadcrumbs you know you have the flour and butter combined, go a bit further with it and form a larger crumb. At this point add in the Demerara and oats and just rub a little to integrate it. This can sit to one side while you prep the fruit.
5 or 6 large Bramleys, peeled, cored and sliced
500g blackberries, if you are using these straight from a freezer stash of pre picked berries add a tablespoon of corn flour to the dish, they can be cooked from frozen and the corn flour makes a little sauce.
Allspice or sweet mixed spice – allspice is actually one large peppercorn like berry that comes from India and has a many hued flvour, cinnamon meets cloves suggled with nutmeg and pepper. Read more here
Place your prepped fruit in a suitable baking dish, I use a family lasagne dish, our crockery is pulling double duty in our galley. Sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of Demerara and a teaspoon o f allspice or sweet mixed spice—it gives a lovely heady aroma as it’s cooking along with the berry juices. Tip the crumble over the fruits and level slightly.
Depending on your dish type it could be 25—45 mins cooking at 180c. I usually stick mine in the oven during the main cook mid week. On a Sunday it goes in once everyone’s plated up, then we take our time until our golden Apple & Blackberry Crumble is ready..
Serve with double cream for a rib sticking treat or custard or half fat crème fraiche for a lighter touch.