Apple and Bramble Crumble

My all time favorite pudding, Autumn isn’t complete without one every weekend.

I’ve loved Apple and Bramble Crumble for as long as I can remember, I used to request it as part of my birthday meal every year when I was younger. No other crumble will suffice, it’s just not right if it doesn’t contain the jewel of the Autumnal hedgerow. I can’t walk past a bramble bush without stopping to stuff my face, it’s one of lifes great pleasures. It’s always a sad day when the last packet of frozen brambles are used up, knowing that it’ll be months and months before the next chance to pluck one from it’s thorny home.

I think one of the beauties of making Apple and Bramble Crumble is how you can tinker with it, but still retain the very essence of the dish. It doesn’t really matter if you use the bog standard recipe from the Good Housekeeping Cookery Book, go all Raymond Blanc and cook the crumble and filling seperatley, or spice up the filling like Tony Singh, the essence of the dish remains.

So last time I made it, I decided to go a bit off piste and rather than just following the Good Housekeeping Cookery Book recipe, I decided to follow Tony’s lead and get the spices out. Sautéing the apples in spiced butter, prior to baking... In with some jaggery, rather than plain white sugar, then a cinnamon stick and a star anise were added and left to infuse while I chopped the apples. Eaters of course, as you want your apples to stay chunky and solid and not turn to mush, like a cooker would. I also used a variety of apples, so each mouthful would yield a slightly different taste and texture.

I’ve found that I need my hob on nearly full whack to get any sort of colour on the apples within the few minutes the Good Housekeeping Cookery Book recipe says to cook them for. In this instance, that meant the aromas coming out of the pan were immense, jaggery certainly makes for a tasty caramelisation. I think maybe a couple more star anise next time though, or a longer infussion, so that flavour comes through a bit more.

All in all, it was a very tasty pimping of an otherwise bog standard Apple and Bramble Crumble and one that warrants a bit more experimentation. Maybe next time I’ll cook the filling and the topping separately and see how that works. Always serving it with ice cream mind, none of this double cream nonsense…

Purple Fingers

Purple fingers...

I find it impossible to walk past a bramble bush without picking some.

It’s that time of year again, with nature’s bounty waiting to be plucked from thorny bushes resulting in purple fingers. As you can see, I’ve already plundered a local hedgerow for some brambles to make jelly with. This weekend, I’ve also got to pick all the rowanberries in the front garden and the elderberries in the back. Plus I need to get hold of some haws, hips and sloes. I can see that I’ll be needing to invest in quite a few bags of preserving sugar.

I’ve also noticed quite a few apple trees while I’ve been out cycling on the local bridleways and byways. While I’m not a cider drinker, it’s tempting to have a crack at making some, or even just trying to bottle some of the juice. We’ll see…

Bramble Jelly

I was making bramble jelly the other night when I had a bit of a mishap. While screwing on one of the jar lids, I managed to knock the jar over and spilt the boiling hot contents all over the kitchen worktop and down the front of the cupboards. Rather than stick the hot jars, they’d just come out of the oven where they’d been sterilising, on the nice new wooden work surface, I put them on a cheap plastic IKEA Xmas place mat that my mother-in-law had given the kids last year. I should really have used something better, as it’s not made from temperature stable plastic, so went a bit floppy and slidy. I suppose that making jelly late a night, while very tired, does mean you’re more liable to make the odd mistake or two…