Apple and Blackberry Crumble makes the most of autumn produce. Prepare the crumble in advance and pop it in the oven as you sit down for dinner. It will be ready just in time for dessert.
Crumble is a staple winter dessert in our house. The family favourite is plum, and I preserve large bottles of them during early autumn so dessert can be made in a flash when the cravings strike. However, my tendency to get over-excited about new season produce recently saw us with an abundance of apples that required eating. As individual apple tarts had already graced the dessert table that week, I made this Apple and Blackberry Crumble instead.
Blackberry vines were a common sight when we lived in England. They crowded the country lanes, river paths and old gardens we would often visit. By early summer, the vines would be heavy with fruit free for the taking. I kick myself now that, other than a few berries picked as we wandered past, we never availed ourselves of this free produce. The blackberries in this crumble come straight from the frozen aisle of my local supermarket. If you happen to live in a climate where blackberries grow wild, pick many and freeze them so you can make crumble in winter.
The apples you use will determine the finished texture of the dish. Cooking apples like Granny Smith or Bramley (if you have access to them – lucky you) will soften to form a smooth sauce that melds with the berries. I prefer the apples to retain some shape, providing contrast to the soft berries, and have used both Pink Ladies and Sundowners with great success.
I find apples sweet enough on their own, enough to balance out the tart blackberries, so have used little additional sugar. If your apples are on the tart side, or not very flavoursome, then you may wish to add more sugar. The wholegrain flour and nuts in the crumble topping, together with the oats, add bulk and texture to the dessert. This makes it perfect to serve after a light main, such as frittata or soup.
Crumble is best served, in my opinion, with much custard. If there is no custard on hand, then a large dollop of thick cream should do nicely. This crumble reheats well, and any leftovers make a great breakfast. Fruit and oats = breakfast food, right?
Apple and Blackberry Crumble
For the fruit
- 500 g apples peeled, cored and cut into eighths
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoons dark muscovado or dark brown sugar
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Tablespoons Juice of 1/2 lemon approximately 2
- 1 vanilla pod split
- 500 g blackberries fresh or frozen
To make the filling
- Put the apples, water, sugar, lemon zest and juice, and vanilla pod in a medium saucepan.
- Cover the saucepan, bring the contents to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the apples have softened.
- Stir in the blackberries.
- Cook for a further 2 minutes then remove from the heat.
To make the topping
- Place the rolled oats into a medium bowl and set aside.
- Put the remainder of the ingredients into the bowl of your food processor.
- Pulse the mixture to cut the butter into the flour. The mixture should have a mix of small and larger pieces resembling tiny pebbles distributed throughout the flour.
- Add the butter mixture to the rolled oats, and combine.
To make the crumble
- Pre-heat the oven to 200C (180C fan forced).
- Place the apple and blackberry mixture in the bottom of a two litre baking dish.
- Spread the crumble topping over the the apple mixture.
- Cook the crumble for 30 minutes, or until golden brown and juice is bubbling up the side of the crumble.
- Serve with much custard or double cream
I make the crumble topping in a food processor. You can also rub the butter into the flour by hand should you prefer.
I usually assemble this crumble in a large 2 litre baking dish, however it can also be assembled in smaller ramekins. Adjust the baking time accordingly.
The crumble is best served warm, but is also good cold.
You can make the fruit and topping up to two days in advance. Keep them in the fridge, and assemble the crumble just before baking.