Blackberry, Apple, Lavender, and Hazelnut Crumble

It’s amazing what wild produce you can find on a walk to the supermarket. I originally set out hoping I might find a little lavender on my walk, but I also stumbled on several crops of wild blackberries. In the UK, blackberries are usually in season from late August to early November, but they seemed to be in early this year, perhaps due to the fact we seem to have skipped summer. I used to pick loads of blackberries as a kid- we would take tubs out to hedgerows and collect several kilos- then make crumble, jam, or just freeze our spoils. Perhaps the reason why even kids can pick them, blackberries are probably the easiest wild fruit to identify and pick. They’ll occur on many hedgerows on bramble-y plants, and the fruit turns black when ripe. The ones you want to pick are the ones that come off the plant easily- if they don’t, they are probably not ripe. Similarly, don’t pick the ones below knee-height, as dogs may have ..er.. spoiled the fruit for you. Despite the scratches you might pick up from the brambles, picking the blackberries, then coming back and cooking them, is really an enjoyable weekend activity, and they’ll be around for a couple of months for another trip.

The crumble I have styled here has tried to reflect the wild, herbal, autumnal flavours. Since I had some lavender left over from making lavender lemonade, I thought I would put a twist on the typical apple and blackberry crumble by infusing the lavender in the fruit juices. One principle in gastronomy is that if produce grows together, the flavours will complement each other, and since the blackberries and lavender were found on the same forage, I felt pretty safe combining them. The hazelnuts in the crumble mix takes away the smooth texture usually found in crumble and add to the rustic texture.

Blackberry, Apple, Lavender, and Hazelnut Crumble

Serves 6. Ideal hot or cold with custard.

Ingredients:
500g blackberries, washed
500g bramley apples (or whatever you have around)
2 tsp port
15g caster sugar
~20g lavender heads (or 10g dried)
210g self raising flour
120g butter
100g soft brown sugar
100g chopped hazelnuts

Recipe:
1. Stew the blackberries. Add the blackberries, port, and caster sugar to a heavy bottomed pan over a low heat. Keep on the heat until the blackberries have given off a good amount of liquid and are nice and mushy. Strain the fruit through a sieve, so that you end up with the liquid separately.
2. Infuse the lavender. Return the liquid to the pan along with the lavender. Bring to the boil and simmer for a couple of minutes until the lavender flavour has infused. Strain the lavender out until you are left with just the liquid again.
3. Stew the apple. Peel, core, and chop the apple. Add a small amount of water (~1tsbp) to another pan, and add the apple. Place the pan over a medium heat and keep there until the apple is soft. If the pan becomes dry, add a little more water.
4. Make the crumble topping. Rub the flour and butter together until it resembles slightly large breadcrumbs. Add the brown sugar and hazelnuts and mix until homogeneous.
5. Cook the crumble. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Pour the blackberries, apple, and infused juices into a large dish, then spread the crumble topping over the fruit. Place in the oven and cook for 30 minutes.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Blackberry and Port Ice Cream « oxfood

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