Wednesday 29 October 2014

Autumn time is apple time: Apple & Blackberry Crumble

The clocks went back over the weekend. It was a sleepy bank holiday of book reading, staying warm by the fire, stealing wooly socks from Dad's sock drawer, drinking copious amounts of tea, watching TV while the dogs sat at my feet, basking in the heat of the stove and reading the Saturday newspaper front and back over the entire three days.

I wasn't at my most energetic. The previous few weeks have been a whirlwind of drama and exhaustion that I am slowly moving out of. In the middle of of it all, I went on a jam and jelly making spree, all based around that wonderful, often times overlooked, apple.

In Druid times, apple were magic, a symbol of female empowerment, craft and healing. Apples are associated with that simple, cheap fruit you throw in your bag for lunch and find four days later. Over the last few years my perception of this glowing, crisp autumn fruit has completely changed. I started eating apples from the market in September and October when the Irish varieties were in season. I experimented with avoiding gala and granny smiths and started looking for heritage varieties. One type were miniature and perfectly rounded with a bright rouge that leaked into the bright white interior of the fruit. Another was a perfect pink with a mellowing yellow inside and a bitter sweet bite. Simply looking at different apples, their colours, textures, shape and taste, has completely transformed my appreciation for something seasonal. It has made me crave this time of year and appreciate the bounty of this seemingly simple fruit.

While I was making all that jam and jelly, (recipes to follow in the next few days), I cooped myself up in the kitchen for a few hours. Needing some air and having two hyperactive springer spaniel dogs look up at me with anticipation, the three of us headed to a walk down by a lake near my house. It wasn't long before I came across an entire hedgerow of fresh, ripe blackberries. When we got back, it was clear crumble had to be made.

As a kid, myself and my little sister used to make apple and blackberry crumble. I remember it would stick to the dish because of the mountains of sugar we put into it. It was dessert after all! This time, I wanted to do things differently. I wanted to let the flavors of the bitter cooking apple foraged from some old trees nearby and the freshly picked berries work their magic. This crumble changed the way I think about desserts now. There was no need for sugar. It was a childhood excuse for sweetness. This is the adult version, the version that lets the ingredients do the talking.


This recipe serves 4 but can easily be turned into more by simply adding more apples and berries. The other ingredients, including the crumble topping quantities can stay the same if it's all going into the same dish.

6 cooking apples (1 large cooking apple per person plus 2 more for extra helpings)
2 cups blackberries (raspberries and blueberries or frozen berry mix works just as good)
2 Tbs maple syrup
2 Tbs honey
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla essence

2 cups oats
1 cup flour (I used rice flour and it made it nice and light. Plain flour or spelt would work great too)
1/4 cup hazelnuts (chopped roughly)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 cup coconut oil 

Preheat oven to 180° C. Peel, core and slice apples thinly and layer in a deep oven dish. Everyone has a different sized dish but your dish should be half filled when all your apples are in it. Wash your blackberries and place over apples. Drizzle maple syrup, honey and vanilla essence and sprinkle cinnamon over the apples and berries.

In a separate bowl, add oats to combined and sieved flour, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg and stir well. Mix in the coconut oil the mix, rubbing the oil into the flour mix until you get a crumbly texture. Stir through chopped hazelnuts. Pour the mixture out onto the apples and berries, covering all the fruit evenly. Pack it down to form a tight, sealed crust.

Place in the oven for 30-40 minutes until you can put a knife or skewer into the apples and they are soft and the crumble topping is a lovely golden brown. 

Scoop out into bowls and serve with custard, cream or natural yogurt and enjoy!

(Despite my best efforts to get a photograph of the finished product, we all devoured it before I realized I'd forgotten to take that last photo. I guess this just means I'll have to make it again and photograph it again and eat it again. 
That's all fine by me!

1 comment:

  1. I've been making apple crumble recently, even though apples are not in season here. Yours looks delicious with the addition of the berries!