The annual bramble scramble has been and gone, and I missed out on the action this year. A weekend too early, we dragged the kids up the path beyond the beach and collected only a handful of earlies and some nettle stings. Then the following weekend, when I was off gallivanting with friends (as I am wont to do, oh, at least once every second year), my husband took the kids back up the hill and they filled their pouches with brambles – just in time; it seems our town is one of keen foragers, freemongers and crumblers.
Therefore the recipe I present is the actual fruits of someone else’s labour while I was drifting around the impressive new city library in Birmingham (I know, 24 hours of freedom and I let my hair down in a library. It’s a cool library. The John Travolta of libraries, if you will. Ruth, I know you hear me).
Lucky me: I get to have a night away and also eat the brambles, in a sweet, spiced, oaty crumble with some vanilla-scented pears soaking up their ruby juices.
Pedants will notice I call blackberries ‘brambles’ in the paragraphs above and then title the dish ‘blackberry’. Properly, I think, the plant is a bramble and the fruit is a blackberry but in my house a bramble is a bramble is a bramble. I’m happy to leave both in, in the spirit of inclusiveness and search engine optimisation.
Pear and Blackberry Crumble
100g plain flour
50g cold butter, cubed
50g soft light brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
4 ripe pears, peeled, cored and quartered
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp water
Preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan).
Butter a medium baking dish (mine is 22cm x 16cm).
Rub the butter and flour together with the tips of your fingers until you have a perfectly uneven oaty rubble, then stir in the oats, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Pop in the fridge until ready to bake.
Melt the butter and sugar in a pan, then add the pears, vanilla and water and let them cook until the fruit is just starting to soften and the syrup is nice and sticky.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the blackberries. Don’t stir too enthusiastically or they’ll turn to mush.
Tip the fruit into the baking dish and scatter the crumble on top.
Bake in the oven for around 25 minutes, until golden and bubbling, until you and your spoon just can't wait any longer.