Yesterday we left the house on foot, armed with plastic bowls inside bags in search of some free food. We weren't disappointed. We came back laden with blackberries and a note of where the best sloes are this year. Funnily enough before we went off on our Summer holiday I thought we wouldn't be in for a good harvest. How wrong I was. In the few weeks we were away the trees and bushes are suddenly full to bursting with fruit.
I love, love, love walking in the countryside near where we live. I look up at Box Hill and instantly remember being a child, swimming in the River Mole near the Stepping Stones on one of our many adventures (no grown ups). I do hope that we will allow the children to have that much freedom. Of course, I'll probably be hiding (in full camouflage, so I can remain undetected), just to keep an eye on them. I can't understand how we were allowed so much freedom as children and didn't come to any harm... Note to self: Get neurosis under control! They are still very young I'm sure as we see them grow we'll allow them a bit more freedom. Until then I'm going to relish every single adventure they allow us to have together.
Blackberry and Apple Crumble (could serve 8)
4 cups of blackberries
2-3 cups of peeled, chopped cooking apples
2 cups of fruit juice
200g/7oz plain flour
125g/4.5oz butter cut into cubes (I use whatever we have, salted or unsalted)
75g/3oz caster sugar (we use unrefined)
2 dessertspoons of brown sugar (whatever we have to hand)
(Extra sugar if you like your fruit to be sweet too. We prefer it to be slightly tart and therefore do not add sugar to the fruit).
Preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 5
We used 4 separate oven proof bowls, each one would feed 2 people. You could use one large ovenproof bowl.
To each bowl we added 1 cup of washed blackberries, approx half a cup of chopped apple and half a cup of fruit juice (we used orange juice yesterday as it's all we had).
If you like your fruit to be sweet then sprinkle some sugar over the top of the fruit.
In a separate, large mixing bowl add the flour and cubes of butter and with your hands rub them together until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the caster sugar and give it a quick mix with your hands. Add the brown sugar and quick mix. Sprinkle this over the fruit and then cook in the oven for approximately 30 minutes until the top is just starting to colour.
There are so many books than can explain in a more technical way how to make crumble but it's not rocket science. Little for some reason makes the best crumble I've ever had and has done since he was very little.
A tip I remember from my childhood, I don't know if it works. Cold hands help - wash in cold water before you start mixing the butter and flour.
(I read a Nigel Slater recipe a while back that said he makes his crumble mix in the food processor but I've never tried it. I'm always half way through before I remember...)
Some pics from our walk yesterday...