perfect autumn fodder: pear and blackberry crumble

pear and blackberry crumble
C.S. Lewis said that "When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up", which rather sums up my view of the classic crumble. Yes, I know it lacks sophistication, but like many Brits it is still one of my favourite puddings, a love of which began at a very early age and has shown no signs of waning.

Using up my windfall pears with a handful of blackberries and a hint of warming cloves, this pear and blackberry crumble was the perfect comfort food to the grey autumn day, an antidote to damp misery.

Serve with lashings of thick double cream.
Serves 6
Skill level: Easy

pear and blackberry filling
about 700g pears, peeled, cored and chopped
caster sugar, to taste (I use homemade vanilla sugar)
4 x cloves
150g fresh (or frozen) blackberries
175g plain flour
150g butter
125g ground almonds
50-75g caster sugar or light muscovado or Demerara sugar (- don't use dark brown sugar, it just doesn't work!)
35-50g flaked almonds (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 200C / Gas Mark 6.
  2. Make the filling by first peeling, coring and chopping up the pears. Simmer the pears in a little water with the cloves and sugar to taste (about 3-4 tablespoons) for 10 to 15 minutes, until soft. If the pears have given off a lot of liquid you may need cook for a few minutes further to remove some of the liquid. Stir frequently so the pears don't catch on the bottom of the pan.
  3. Remove the cloves and add the blackberries. Warm through until the blackberries have started to soften. Taste for sweetness and pour into an ovenproof dish; (a 23cm one is about the right size. You could of course serve this in individual ramekins as well). Set aside to cool slightly while you make the crumble.
  4. Make the crumble by rubbing the butter into the flour, then stir in the almonds and sugar until the crumble forms loose crumbs.
  5. Sprinkle crumble mixture over top until fruit is covered, (I like mine to be about 1½-2cm deep. I love crumble! However, what you don’t want is a thick compacted layer as it will just be stodgy. You may end up with too much crumble, so save that for tomorrow!) Sprinkle with flaked almonds if using.
  6. Bake in oven for about 15 minutes. Turn the oven temperature down to 180C / Gas Mark 4 and continue to cook for another 10 minutes or until golden brown (but not burned). Serve warm (you may need to let it cool for 5 to 10 minutes as it will be bubbling hot and could burn your mouth) with double cream or custard.

  • Don’t pat down the crumble topping or even try to level it. Otherwise, the fruit will bubble up over the crumble.
  • Frances Bissell in Country Kitchen suggests using a crème anglaise made with saffron or a vanilla ice-cream made with mead (rather than sugar, although you may need to add extra honey for sweetness) . . . could be a case of gilding the lily, but what the hell . . .
  • You can use more or less any fruit, but if using eating apples or any other firm fruit; you will need to precook to soften. The chances are that if it is crunchy when you put it in the oven, it will still be when it comes out!

1 comment:

o cozinheiro este algarve said...

Who cares about sophistication when we have something as delicious as crumble.I like a bit of sticky fruit bubbling over the top, but then I´m not very sophisticated!!!!!!This looks gorgeous,just wish we had blackberries in Portugal.I´m going to try a quince crumble.