“She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
"Winter is dead.”
~AA Milne, when we were very young
NOTE: I am away at the moment helping my mother with her treatment for lung cancer. I have set up a few posts to post whilst I am away as a special surprise. Some are new and some are reposts of old favourites that you may have forgotten, or if you are a new reader may not even have seen. I'll be back at the end of May, but in the meantime . . . Enjoy!
PS - I will only have sporadic internet use, so if you ask a question and I don't get back to you . . . it's not that I don't want to. It just may take me a while.
Wednesday, 24 February 2010
This is the time of year when I begin to reap the benefits of all those hours spent in the Bramble Hedges last autumn, picking bucket after bucket full of blackberries. I have bags and bags of them in the freezer, just waiting now for me to make them into lovely pies and crumbles. They look so pretty and promising coming out of the freezer, like little purple jewels all covered with frost.
There is nothing so satisfying as a delicious hedgerow fruit crumble in the dead of winter . . . it is something we really look forward to, and indeed it is the thoughts of just such treats as this that keep me in the hedgerows picking long after I feel tired and like giving up . . . the thoughts of a fresh crumble on a rainy winter's day . . . all warm from the oven, and juicy and sweet . . . beneath a blanket of buttery crumbs . . . along with lashings of warm custard or cold cream from the fridge gilding it's sweet edges . . . autumn berry picking is a labour of love . . . and perhaps more than a little gluttony . . .
This crumble is a bit different than most, in that you make a luscious toffee sauce to cook the fruit in . . . and the crumble on top is filled with lovely toasted almonds. Oh, it is soooo good. I could almost eat a whole meal of this and nothing else . . .
It is so pretty . . . the apples tinted in pink and ruby colours from the blackberries . . . the crumble topping golden brown and crisp . . . the cream soaking in around the edges of those crumbling buttery cliffs and meandering through the sweet/tart fruit . . .
A bowl of the leftovers for breakfast perhaps??? I think it would go down rather well, don't you??
*Apple and Blackberry Crumble*
A delectable mix of tart cooking apples, sweet bramble fruits and a luscious caramel sauce beneath a blanket of crisp and buttery almond crumble.
150 g caster sugar
100ml of water
60g unsalted butter
3 cooking apples (about 900g) peeled, cored and cut into 1/2 inch dice
50g of blackberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 tsp cinnamon
for the crumble:
75g soft light brown sugar
75g plain flour
75g flaked toasted almonds
75g unsalted butter
pouring cream, custard or vanilla ice cream
Preheat the oven to 190*C/375*F. Butter a shallow oval gratin dish and set it aside.
Place the caster sugar with the water into a heavy based saucepan. Simmer over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until it becomes a delicious toffee gold. You will want to give it an initial stir to help the sugar dissolve, but after that leave it alone just until it begins to change colour. Add the butter in small pieces, whisking it well after each addition until the butter is completely incorporated. You should have a thick butterscotch sauce. Stir in the cinnamon. Add the apples and cook for an additional 4 or 5 minutes. The mixture will seize up, but don' be worried. This is completely natural and to be expected. It will loosen up and melt again as the pan continues to heat. After five minutes, pour the fruit mixture into the prepared baking dish. Tuck the blackberries here and there throughout.
Place all the ingredients for the crumble into the bowl of your food processor. Whizz until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Scatter the crumble mixture evenly over top of the fruit.
Bake for 40 minutes until the crumble is lightly golden and the fruit is bubbling around the edges.
Serve warm with your preferred accompaniment.