Apple and Blackberry Crumble

by Kristin on September 13, 2011

In the US, the white picket fence is part of the American Dream. In Ireland, it’s not a picket fence, it’s a hedge. Almost every house has a hedge, stone wall or, yes, a fence bordering its property. When we moved to our house in the countryside six years ago, we inherited the dreaded leylandii hedge that quickly grows out of control if you don’t faithfully trim it every year. So hated is leylandii that some county planners have now banned it, garden centres won’t stock it and the hedges are the cause of over 20,000 neighbour disputes in Ireland and the UK because of their tendency to encroach on property and block sunlight. The only redeeming feature of my much-maligned hedge is that it harbours some blackberry bushes growing wild amongst it.

Much like elderflower takes over the countryside at the start of the summer, late summer and early autumn is all about the wild blackberries, peeking out from the hedgerows and free for the taking. I’m convinced that a good old-fashioned crumble is one of Ireland’s best-loved desserts (at any rate, it’s on a lot of restaurant menus), and none more so than an apple and blackberry crumble. At least there’s a silver lining to my otherwise ugly hedge, with a few crumbles worth of blackberries hiding in there.

Apple and Blackberry Crumble

Serves 6 to 8

Most crumble recipes call for cold butter to be rubbed into the flour and sugar until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, and you could certainly do that here, but I think melting the butter results in bigger, more satisfying crumbs in the topping.

for the crumble topping:
200 g (1 3/4 cup) flour
50 g (1/4 cup) caster sugar
50 g (1/4 cup) light brown sugar
25 g (1/4 cup) porridge oats (optional)
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
100 g (1/2 cup) butter, melted

for the filling:
6 to 8 apples, peeled, cored and chopped into bite-sized pieces (about 600 g/1 1/4 lb when prepped)
100 g (1/2 cup) sugar
1 tablespoon corn flour
zest of 1 lemon
250 g (1 1/2 cups) blackberries (frozen are fine)

cream, custard or vanilla ice cream, to serve

Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F).

To make the topping, combine the flour, caster sugar and brown sugar, oats and salt in a bowl. Stir in the melted butter, then squeeze the topping with your hands to make small clumps. Put the topping in the freezer while you prepare the filling.

Place the chopped apples, sugar, corn flour and lemon zest in a large bowl and stir together well. Add in the blackberries and stir gently.

Place the filling in a large ovenproof dish or individual dishes. Sprinkle the topping over the fruit, making sure it’s evenly distributed. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, until the topping is golden and the filling is bubbling up. Allow to cool for 15 or 20 minutes before serving with cream, custard or ice cream. A crumble is best eaten straightaway, but any leftovers make an excellent breakfast the next day.

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Paula Ryan September 13, 2011 at 1:46 pm

They look so delicious! Have spotted some blackberries when out walking, must bring a bowl home with me the next time!

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Kristin September 13, 2011 at 8:23 pm

I was out for a walk on Sunday and couldn’t help noticing all the blackberries in the hedgerows on the side of the road. I might bring a bucket next time too!

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Móna Wise September 13, 2011 at 7:13 pm

Kristen,
I love how clean looking your photos are. This looks gorgeous.
We are almost blackberries out here in Galway and I am starting to freeze some for
slow winter roasts now.
Lovely recipe. I am taking notes ;0)
Móna

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Kristin September 13, 2011 at 8:25 pm

Thanks, Móna! I’ll let you in on my method – white background, white dishes, using the food as props and shooting straight overhead most of the time. Much as I would love to learn more about photography, I seem to never have the time, and when I’m taking pictures, I have three hungry people waiting for me to finish so they can eat their dinner! This is the system that’s working best for me these days.

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Colette September 13, 2011 at 7:13 pm

This is the third crumble recipe I have come across today. Nothing for it, but to try all three, to taste and compare. Looks great, Kristin :)

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Kristin September 13, 2011 at 8:26 pm

A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do!

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Stasty September 14, 2011 at 12:35 am

Apple and Blackberry is one my favourite dessert combinations. I think half the attraction to blackberries, is the fact that they are hard to find and have such a short season. A bit like wild garlic…or the creme egg :)

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Kristin September 14, 2011 at 11:00 am

We always want what we can’t have! I foraged for wild garlic for the first time this past year, but I pass on the creme eggs – they’re so sweet they literally make my teeth hurt.

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Julie September 14, 2011 at 5:07 am

These look gorgeous-and divine! I want one right now. And a trip to Ireland too, please!

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Kristin September 14, 2011 at 11:03 am

Thanks, Julie! Loved your recent post about the pie party – now that’s my kind of party!

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Imen McDonnell September 14, 2011 at 8:04 am

Yum! Having a few girlfriends out next week for a bberry picking & cider sipping. Now that I’ve seen this, maybe I’ll grab some apples from the orchard and make your crumble too!!! Lovely x

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Kristin September 14, 2011 at 11:04 am

That sounds fabulous! When you say cider, do you mean apple cider like we get back home? I’ve never seen it here but it’s one of the few things I’ve never stopped missing in all my years here.

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Amee September 14, 2011 at 10:52 am

This looks lovely and the blackberry juice is such a pretty colour – great to meet you last week as well.

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Kristin September 14, 2011 at 11:04 am

Lovely to meet you too! Wish I could have chatted properly, the day was a bit of a whirlwind, wasn’t it?

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megan September 14, 2011 at 4:01 pm

these are absolutely gorgeous! just stumbled upon your blog from foodgawker and i have to say it is terrific. i love reading about your stories in Ireland!

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Kristin September 14, 2011 at 7:47 pm

Thanks Megan! I was just looking at your blog – do you go to UW-Madison? I spotted the capitol building in one of your photos. I went to college there and was living in Madison before I moved to Ireland. I love that city and would probably still be living there if I hadn’t met my husband, who lured me away overseas!

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MandyM September 15, 2011 at 5:35 pm

Hedgerow was a new concept for me when I moved to Ireland. In South Africa we generally avoid eating berries and things off wild bushes in case they’re poisonous! But I love seeing the berries spring up around they place here, it’s just fantastic.

I’ve also heard to keep a look out for crab apple trees to make crab apple jam. Will have to do that.

Your crumbles look lovely, I always love the way the juice spills out over the sides of the dish.

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Kristin September 15, 2011 at 9:56 pm

That’s quite a difference between poisonous South African bushes and lovely Irish hedgerows! I’ve heard that too about crab apple jam and in fact The River Cottage Preserves Handbook I just bought has a few recipes for them. We had a crab apple tree in our garden growing up back in the States, but no one ever thought to do anything with those hard little apples, I think it was viewed more as a nuisance than anything else.

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Aoife Mc September 16, 2011 at 1:24 pm

*drools*

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Kristin September 19, 2011 at 12:03 pm
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