One of the most common forms of wild foods in the United Kingdom is the common blackberry. You will be able to find these growing on brambles along hedgerows and in patches of denser scrubland across many districts of England, Wales and Ireland. They will be fruiting from late July until mid September weather permitting. In shops they will be exceptionally expensive to purchase (even in the cropping season) and there are often ample harvests available in the wild (plus its good fun to be out exploring and hunting for wild blackberries!).
Ensure that all blackberries picked are disease free, do not have insect burrows in them and are BLACK. Under-ripe red ones will be unpleasant to the taste and uncomfortable in the gut.
To make a family sized blackberry crumble (or an apple or an apple/blackberry combination) you will need the following ingredients.
- A good size bowl of blackberries or other fruit (approximately 1 lb)
- 8 oz of self-raising flour
- 4 oz of margarine/butter
- Half a cup of sugar
- Teaspoon of mixed spice/cinnamon
+ an oven-proof baking dish
Method for baking the recipe:
The blackberries will not require prior cooking like apples would but they will need to be lightly rinsed in water ad have their stalks removed if any remain after picking.
Place these berries in the bottom of a oven-proof dish and place to one side.
To make the crumble topping you will need to add the sugar to the self-rising flour in a mixing dish and lightly mix. Then, place the 4oz of margarine or butter into the mixture and begin forming breadcrumbs. This process entails rubbing the flour and margarine lightly into each other using your fingertips only (the palms of the hand should remain clean). This process will be gradual and may take around 5 minutes to complete at the end of which the sugar, flour and margarine should be inseparable and firmly mixed into a breadcrumb like form.
Then, returning to the dish of blackberries, sprinkle the entire breadcrumb mixture over the top, taking care to cover the entire top of the dish and ensuring that there are no blackberries visible from beneath the crumble topping. If any gaps are present you will end up with the bubbling blackberries over spilling the crumble when cooking in the over. The crumble should act as a lid to the dessert.
This will then need to have a fine sprinkling of your chosen dessert spice over the top, not too much or it will be over powering, and a light dusting of regular sugar to add sweetness to the dish and prevent the sour blackberries becoming unpalatable. The mixture should be placed in a pre-heated over at 180°C for around 30mins or until the top crumble mixture is golden brown. It should be served warm with custard, ice cream or cream and can additionally be re-heated once in a microwave if desired at a later date to consume left overs. Happy baking!
Article by Kevin Thornes
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