With St. Patrick’s Day less than a week away, if you’re planning on celebrating the occasion with a meal, then you’re probably thinking about making one of two things for dessert: 1) something green, or 2) something with Bailey’s Irish Cream or Guinness. Both of those ideas are great for St. Paddy’s Day, but there’s another option: a rustic Irish dessert like Blackberry & Apple Crumble.
Even though I’m not Irish, the food of Ireland always speaks to me, and I think I hoard Irish cookbooks more than most other types of cuisine. I always feel like Irish dishes – such as corned beef and cabbage, Guinness beef stew, soda bread, and potato chowder – are comfort foods at their finest. But for me, Irish desserts don’t usually come to mind as quickly, which is why when I saw the recipe for this crumble on the cover of Irish Country Cooking I knew I wanted to give it a try. Read my notes below to see what I thought of this recipe.
Blackberry & Apple Crumble
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Prep Time: 25 min
Cook Time: 30 min
For the Crumble:
65 g (2 1/2 oz) butter
175 g (6 oz) fresh white breadcrumbs
50 g (2 oz) soft brown sugar
60 ml (2 fl oz) golden syrup
2 lemons, finely grated zest and juice
50 g (2 oz) ground almonds
50 g (2 oz) chopped almonds
450 g (1 lb) blackberries
450 g (1 lb) cooking apples, peeled, cored, and finely sliced
For the Custard:
2 tablespoons custard powder
1-2 tablespoons sugar
575 ml (1 pint) milk
You Will Need:
450 ml (3/4 pint) ovenproof dish
1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Grease an ovenproof dish with a knob of butter.
2. Melt the remaining butter in a frying pan and sauté the breadcrumbs for about 5 minutes, or until crisp and golden. Set aside to cool.
3. Combine the sugar, syrup, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a small saucepan and gently warm through. Add the breadcrumbs together with the ground and chopped almonds and mix well.
4. Arrange a thin layer of blackberries in the base of the dish, top with a thin layer of crumb mixture, another of apples, and another layer of crumbs. Repeat the process, alternating apples and berries until all used up and finishing with a layer of crumbs. The mixture should be piled well above the top of the dish as it will shrink during cooking. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until the crumbs are golden and the fruit is soft.
5. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, combine the custard powder and sugar and mix to a smooth paste with a couple tablespoons of milk. Heat the remaining milk to almost boiling and pour over the custard mix, stirring well. Pour the custard into the saucepan and bring to almost boiling over low heat, stirring continuously.
6. Serve the crumble warm accompanied by a jug of hot custard.
• If you can’t find golden syrup, you can substitute corn syrup.
• I used Granny Smith apples.
• For the ovenproof dish, I used a 9-inch round pie plate.
• Instead of combining the sugar syrup with the breadcrumbs as instruction #3 says to do, I combined the sugar syrup with the apples and cranberries. Then for instruction #4, I just layered the syrupy fruit mixture with the breadcrumb mixture.
• When I was at the market purchasing the items I needed for this recipe, the blackberries didn’t look great; I found fresh cranberries that looked good though, so I decided to use them in this recipe instead. Because cranberries are more tart than blackberries, here are the changes I made to the recipe:
1. Omitted 1 lb blackberries and added 4 oz cranberries.
2. Increased the apples to 1 1/2 lbs (to make up for using less cranberries than the amount of blackberries that the recipe calls for).
3. Increased the brown sugar to 4 oz.
4. Decreased the lemon zest and juice to 1 lemon.
5. Increased the cook time to about 35 minutes.
Irish Country Cooking, Sterling Epicure, Copyright 2014
This is a really lovely apple crumble. I especially enjoyed it served warm, and I thought the accompanying hot custard was the perfect addition. Using custard powder as the recipe calls for was a nice way to whip up a quick sauce, but next time I think I’ll go all out and take a little bit of extra time to whip up a homemade custard sauce. Or instead, a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream would also be wonderful. Just a heads-up though, this isn’t the overly sweet apple pie that many of us are familiar with; it’s a bit more subtly sweet so the flavors of the fruit really come through. However, if you’re expecting it to be sweet as pie (pardon the pun), you might want to add a bit more sugar than what the recipe calls for. One other thing I have to mention is the breadcrumb amount; all the juices given off by the fruit were completely absorbed by the breadcrumbs. Since I like my crumbles to have at least a little moisture, I think next time I will reduce the amount of breadcrumbs by half.
Did this recipe deserve the cover spotlight?
I think it did. This crumble is a nice rustic classic and a good way of showing that Irish desserts are just as delicious as savory meals.