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Autumn Almanac: Blackberry & Apple Crumble Recipe

by - Monday, October 15, 2012

So, it seems that autumn is very suddenly upon us, and what better way to embrace it than making use of everything it offers us? I seem to be brimming with recipe ideas and it feels fantastic! The mornings have got darker, the skies greyer, and there is a distinct nearly-winter chill in the air that forces you to stay in bed that little bit longer. Therefore occupying the dark, dark evenings with lovely hearty food is certainly what I intend on doing from now onwards!

Rather than wondering where our summer's gone, (and it was only just getting started!) I've decided to embrace the new season and get my autumn hat well and truly on. It looks like I've set myself up for a rather busy October, as now all visitor / holiday plans are left behind with the warm weather, I've got a few 'free' weeks in which to make, bake and be merry!

I'm getting wonderfully excited for long walks on crisp Sunday afternoons, cosy evenings by the fire, and spending as much time together as possible to keep warm and get us through the next few nippy months. (And I managed to do all three of those yesterday!) I feel the very best way to get through it all is to curl up indoors with the loved ones, cook irresistibly indulgent meals and look ahead at what's to come. I'm thinking homemade toffee apples, country cottage favourites, squash & chilli soups, hedgerow fruit pies and more...

So, what I've got for you today is exactly that. (Well, one of them, anyway. I'm somehow managing to be busier than I was a month ago...)

Blackberry Picking, Country Walking & Pie Baking!

This weekend has certainly been crammed full of crammy-ness. P and I did a shoot yesterday for a local charity, Support 4 Sight, aiding people with visual impairment. We're also in the middle of shooting for his work, Adaptor Clothing, a company specialising in mod clothing. And on top of all of that, I'm desperately trying to make the most of this lovely season by bringing you all some autumn treats, because last year it all flew by too fast. So for your cosy evening reading, I've got a few pics of our wander round my hometown and blackberry picking in the fields in late afternoon sunlight that I love so very much at this time of year.

We were also asked to do a little shoot of P and his scoot, for some kind people that sell the shiny, shiny shoes he's sporting in this picture. So that we did! The weather stayed (for the most part) dry and beautifully sunny just long enough for us to get some apt shots, like the one above. We then wandered down this road a little, past the village pond I spent a lot of time at as a child feeding the ducks, and into a field lined with blackberry bushes. (But unfortunately, 5 ft of brambles and nettles before you could reach the blackberries).

This all conjures the most wonderful memories for me, in particular the ones of my Grandad taking my sister and I blackberry picking in the very same hedgerow. As we all know, the best blackberries are always just out of reach, sitting looking utterly inviting right at the top of the bushes. Grad always used to hook his walking stick round the very best branches and pull them lower while we plucked the most juicy and perfectly ripe berries from their stalks. These precious little berries then came home to be put into one of Nanny's blackberry and apple pies to be had after a roast dinner with all of Grad's homegrown veg. It will always be important to me to carry on things that I was introduced to as a child, so one day P and I can do the same with ours.

So if you haven't guessed it already, today's post comes with a blackberry & apple crumble recipe!

What you will need:

Serves 4 - 6

½ lb blackberries

3 medium to large cooking apples
½ cup water

12 oz flour

6 oz butter
6 oz caster sugar

 1. Preheat the oven to 180 °C. Begin by peeling your apples and chopping them into thin segments of about 1" square, depending on how chunky you'd like your filling. Place these in a medium sized saucepan, along with the blackberries and about ½ a cup of water. Simmer this on a low heat for about 10 minutes, turning occasionally with a wooden spoon, until the fruit turns a lovely shade of red. (See below).

 2. While this is simmering away, put the flour and the butter into a food processor and blast until it looks like breadcrumbs (usually about 20 seconds). Pour in the sugar and blast again just long enough to allow the sugar to mix in (about 2 seconds). It is important not to over-blend the mixture as it will begin to turn to pastry if you're not careful!

If you don't have a food processor, or just want to be au naturale, you can massage the flour and butter together with your fingers until it turns to a breadcrumb-esque texture, then gently fold in the sugar, ensuring the ingredients are evenly mixed together.

 3. Once your fruit resembles a palette of reds that make you want to take up painting, move them off the heat and strain into a 9" diameter oven proof dish. This should fill the dish to just below half way. Sprinkle some sugar over the fruit to stop it tasting too sharp. The amount is up to you, but I recommend using a level teaspoons worth. Next, pour your crumble mixture over the top and loosely spread out with your fingers.

 4. Now place on the middle shelf of a preheated oven, at 180 °C for 30 minutes, or until the top of the crumble is just beginning to brown. Turn off the heat and leave to sit (I prefer to let it sit in the oven while preparing the custard, as it just browns off the edges a little bit more) until you are ready to eat it.

To Make the Custard:

2 tbsp real custard powder (I use Bird's)

2 tbsp sugar
¾ pint semi-skimmed milk

Heat the milk in a small pan on the hob, until it is almost at the boil. Mix your custard powder and sugar in a bowl, and add a little bit of the milk to make a paste. Bring the milk to the boil, then pour over the paste and stir constantly until it turns. It should have a nice thick consistency, but still be runny enough to pour from a jug.

 5. Serve the crumble with a good helping of custard and warm your toes by the fire - you've earned it!

Thanks for reading, and please let me know if you enjoyed my first ever recipe... I really would like to hear what you all think.

And that's good night from me,

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  1. Crumble looks good but crunchy pie is better, and that custard is too thick BH! I miss blackberry picking and eating them with Nanny & Grad :-( xxx

  2. Thank you SF! Crunchy pie really is better, but I was overuled to make crumble! There's always time to do crunchy pie. :D The custard did go a little thick, but I didn't have time to sort it out as I was trying to take photos with two beaks in the other room calling for crumble! I miss it too, we have to go before the blasted devil gets on the lovely blackberries! Then perhaps a crunchy pie? :) xxx


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