How To Make Apple & Blackberry Crumble

Crumble is an all-time favourite of mine and yet I’ve never made it before. Boarding school lunches and dinners were made all the more palatable with the anticipation of a large bowl of fruit crumble drenched with an extra portion of steaming hot custard. We would sometimes get seconds too, if we were very lucky. It marked the perfect end to a not-so-great meal. I’m not fussy about the fruit used in a crumble. Rhubarb, apple, pear, blackberry and other berries are all wonderful. The texture and thickness of the crumble topping, as well as the proportion of crumble to fruit, are more important factors for me. I need a lot of crumble and even more hot custard (although some people like it cold!).

I reviewed Mark Hix’s British Regional Food a few months ago and came across his recipe for apple and blackberry crumble, which I’ve been meaning to make ever since. When our ever generous neighbour gave us some Bramley apples from his allotment, the husband wandered outside the house to pick some ripe blackberries from the bushes on our lane, and we were all set to make crumble (if you’re wondering why I still have blackberries, I don’t. This post was written weeks ago when the berries were still fat and juicy!).

Ingredients: (with my comments in italics)

good knob of butter (

I took this to mean a good scoop with a knife)

3 large Bramley apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped

75g caster sugar

150g blackberries and / or any other berries like blueberries or elderberries

thick or clotted cream, or custard, to serve

for the crumble topping

40g cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

30g ground almonds

60g caster sugar

80g plain flour

What to do next:

Preheat the oven to 190C / gas 5.

First make the filling – melt the butter in a pan, add the apples and sugar, and cook for 6-7 minutes, stirring occasionally until they begin to break down but are not too soft.

Remove from heat and stir in the blackberries (and other berries). Put in a suitable ovenproof pie dish or small individual pie dishes (which I greased).

Mix all the topping ingredients in a food processor or mixer, or rub between your fingers until they look like breadcrumbs (I did the latter). I also doubled the amount of crumble topping, as it didn’t look like there would be quite enough to form a thick layer.

Sprinke the crumble topping over the top of the filling and bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, until the top is golden brown. (Our oven behaves rather erratically, so the crumble was ready in 20 minutes).

Serve with thick or clotted cream, or custard.

I used shop-bought custard from Waitrose. It’s also delicious with some pouring cream added on top of the custard. After two helpings though, I knew I had over-indulged…

What are your favourite fruits for crumble? Do you prefer custard or cream? And do you know the origins of crumble? According to Wikipedia, it originated during the Second World War in Britain, but I thought it was a lot older than that…

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