Essential ingredients: blackberries
Author: Stewart Turner
Michaelmas – also known as the feast of the archangels – is synonymous with goose (and the practice of rearing geese for the early autumn table is regaining popularity across the UK), but legend also states that Michaelmas is the last day we should enjoy blackberries.
These hedgerow beauties are more highly prized in western Europe than anywhere else in the world, collected and eaten most enthusiastically of all in Britain, where blackberrying occupies a special cultural place in our hearts. It’s a uniquely rewarding activity, a little roulette whenever picking as to whether they will be beautifully sweet or unbelievably sour adds to the fun. My children seem to have a great eye for the sweet ones.
Folklore in the British Isles suggests that Michaelmas is the last day that blackberries can be picked. It is said that when St Michael expelled Lucifer, the devil, from heaven, he fell from the skies and landed in a prickly blackberry bush. Satan cursed the fruit, scorched them with his fiery breath, and stamped and spat (or worse) on them, rendering them unfit. This crumble tart is the perfect way to savour the last berries of the season.
- 225g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- 125g butter – cut into cubes
- 30g caster sugar
- 1 large free-range egg – beaten
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Rub together the flour and butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs (alternatively, pulse in a food processor). Add the sugar, egg and 1 to 2 tablespoons of cold water (just enough to bring it together) and mix again, until the mixture comes together as a smooth dough. Be careful not to overwork the pastry. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for about half an hour.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and roll it out into a circle that’s about 3mm thick and large enough to line the tart tin. Press the pastry into the base and sides of the tin, allowing any excess pastry to overhang. Prick the base all over with a fork, then chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.
Line the chilled pastry case with baking paper and baking beans, then bake in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the lip of the pastry is light golden-brown. Remove the baking beans and paper, then reduce the oven temperature to 160°C and bake for a further 8 to 10 minutes, or until the pastry case is crisp and golden brown all over. Allow to cool slightly, then brush the inside with beaten egg yolk to seal and set aside in its tin to cool. Once cool, use a small serrated knife to gently shave off the excess pastry, leaving a smooth edge.
- 4 large Bramley apples – peeled, cored and cut into small chunks
- 150g caster sugar
- 275g fresh blackberries
- 25g butter
For the filling, place the apples, sugar and 2 tablespoons of water in a large, deep, lidded saucepan and cook over a medium heat, stirring gently, for 4 to 5 minutes. Cover the pan with the lid and bring the mixture to a gentle simmer. Simmer, without stirring, for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the apples have softened but still retain their shape. Stir the blackberries into the cooked apples and continue to simmer for a further 2 to 3 minutes, until the blackberries have just started to soften. Set aside to cool.
- 100g butter – at room temperature, cut into cubes
- 70g demerara sugar
- 30ml hazelnut oil
- 1 egg
- 200g plain flour
- 50g ground hazelnuts
- 10g baking powder
- Pinch of salt
Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until completely combined, then add the oil, followed by all the dry ingredients. Bring everything together to form a dough. Knead briefly to form a ball. Wrap in clingfilm and chill.
Crème fraîche Chantilly
- 2g leaf gelatine – soaked in cold water
- 75g cream
- 50g sugar
- ½ vanilla pod – split and seeds scraped out
- 60g cream
- 150g crème fraîche
Put the cream, sugar and vanilla in a pan. Bring to the boil, then add the soaked gelatine and remove from the heat. Chill to about 40°C, then fold in the remaining cream and crème fraîche. Allow to set in the fridge, then whip before serving.
Suspend a colander over a bowl and strain the cooked fruit, collecting the juices. Spoon the fruit into the cooked pastry case. Using a course grater, grate the crumble mix all over the fruit, making sure it’s completely covered. Bake the tart at for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the crumble is crisp and golden brown. Meanwhile, boil the reserved fruit juice in a saucepan for 3 to 4 minutes, or until thickened to a syrup. Serve the tart warm, in slices, with the extra fruit juice spooned over it and blob of the crème fraîche Chantilly.
Browse a selection of sweet wines to pair with the tart on bbr.com.