9 September 2014

Hedgerow crumble

For the forager, autumn is the season when nature gives the most. Out for a walk at the weekend, we picked some lovely blackberries, which seem to grow more or less everywhere. We also found a hedgerow full of bullaces, which, like damsons and sloes, are a variety of wild plum. Bullaces are slightly smaller than damsons, and usually ripen a few weeks later. They are pretty sharp raw, so best cooked. I decided to make a crumble, to which I also added in a couple of apples. Apples and blackberries are a great combination. There are some fine English apples available at this time of year. I used Discoveries, one of the earliest English apples, which have a lovely floral flavour.

Crumble is a classic autumnal pudding, and can be made with more or less any autumnal fruit. As the evenings get cooler and darker I get a desire for a proper pudding, which crumble satisfies perfectly. It also reheats well, so can be finished on a weeknight, when you might not otherwise have time to make a pudding. If you fancy something slightly different, you can use a cobbler topping instead.


120g plain white flour 
40g cold unsalted butter
1/2tsp baking powder
75g golden caster sugar
50g ground almonds


approx 1 kilo of blackberries, bullaces and apples (The amounts are not exact, depending on how much fruit you have gathered. You could use damsons instead of bullaces, or plums.)
2tbsp light brown sugar
1/2tsp ground cinnamon 
1tbsp water

Pre-heat the oven to 180C.

To make the topping, sift the flour and the baking powder. Cut the butter into small cubes and rub this into the flour until it looks a bit like sawdust. The quickest way to do this is in the food processor.

Add the sugar and ground almonds and incorporate well.

Wash the blackberries, and ensure that all the stalks have been removed.

Cut the bullaces in half and remove the stones.

Peel and de-core the apples. Cut into chunks.

Put the fruit in a pie dish. Add the sugar and cinnamon. Because of the sharpness of the bullaces, I add a little more sugar than usual in a crumble.

Add the topping and level it out over the fruit.

Put the crumble in the oven and bake for about 40-45 minutes, until the fruit is soft and the topping has browned a little.

Serve with creme fraiche, cream, plain yoghurt or home-made custard.

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