For me, if there was one dish that conjures up childhood memories, when the sun always shone and life was full of simple pleasures, it’s Blackberry & Apple Crumble. Looking back (clearly through rose-tinted spectacles) I remember eating a lot of crumble, it was the pudding of choice when invitations of a play date with school friends were happily accepted and a stalwart on the school dinner menu. Apple was the most common, but rhubarb, blackberry, plum, damson, cherry, gooseberry and pear all featured heavily. Generally, whatever fruit was in season, the warm, comforting pud was always gleefully wolfed down, however the crumble toppings varied enormously and seemed to be the make or break element. They varied from the sublime to the somewhat claggy, some seemed to be more like pastry on top and some seemed to be sponge like. My gluttonous fascination with food has led me to try all sorts of methods and ingredients to make the perfect crumble and I think I’ve got pretty close.
You'll find a video of me making this on the Somerset Foodie Youtube Channel at the bottom of this blog...
275g Matthews plain flour
250g Chilled Butter, cut into small cubes
50g Ground Almonds
70g Somerset Foodie Demerara sugar
100g Somerset Foodie blanched and roasted hazelnuts, bashed up a little
100g Brown Sugar
75g Somerset Foodie Pumpkin Seeds
50g Somerset Foodie Jumbo Oats
Pinch of salt
I see recipes for crumble that advise you to blitz the flour and butter together until you get a bread crumb texture, this is the first mistake in the art of crumble making. If you do this, you will end up with something that’s more like a dry, pastry top. I’m afraid, the way to get the best crumble topping is with those fantastic, god given, mixing tools – your hands!
Start out by placing the flour and the butter (cut into small cubes) into a mixing bowl and gentle rub the flour and the butter together. The trick is not to over work the flour – you want to finish with big lumps of butter still, don’t be tempted to rub it so it looks like breadcrumbs.
Now add the ground almonds, Demerara sugar, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds and jumbo oats. Lightly mix them all together and that’s it….done.
Apple & Blackberry Fruit filling
Use any apples that you can get your hands on, but I love to have some Bramley’s in the mix.
2.5kg of Apples, peeled, cored and chopped into chunky pieces
500g Fresh Blackberries
Zest of a lemon
3 Tablespoons of Sugar
Cook your apples in a tiny bit of water, the zest of a lemon and a couple of tablespoons of sugar for no more than 5 minutes, just until they’ve softened a little. Transfer the apples to your crumble dish, scatter over the blackberries and an extra tablespoon of sugar. Now all the remains is to pile on your crumble mixture, evenly across the whole dish and bake at 200°C for 35-40 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven, it’s best to leave the crumble for 5 – 10 minutes to cool slightly, then devour with lashings of fresh cream.
Enjoy! Ben Tollworthy, Somerset Foodie