Autumn foraging: blackberries


Seasoned forager Julius Roberts dives into the woods and hedgerows to find the best nature has to offer at this abundant time of year. Here, he shows us a simple, delicious recipe for focaccia using foraged blackberries. It’s the perfect partner to cheese and a good bottle.

Julius's blackberry-stained hands are in shot as he gathers just-ripe berries
Photograph by Joe Woodhouse

Foraging blackberries is so simple at this time of year; they’re abundant in town parks and country hedgerows alike. This recipe is inspired by the Italian Schiacciata all’uva, a Florentine grape focaccia made in September during the grape harvest. The dough is slightly sweetened, roasted with lots of olive oil and covered with grapes that explode and bleed into the bread below while it bakes.

It’s a lovely balance between sweet and savoury and sits perfectly as the centrepiece on a table of antipasti; it’s delicious with goat’s cheese, a sharp green salad, pickles and charcuterie. It should ideally be made with proper grapes from a vine if you can find them, but failing that blackberries work wonderfully. 

Just out the tin: Julius unwraps his warm, berry-topped bread


700g organic white bread flour
500g warm water
40g caster sugar
15g caster sugar for dusting
20g sea salt
1 sachet of instant yeast
A bunch of fresh rosemary finely chopped
250g blackberries
Olive oil


Add the flour, water, 40g sugar, salt and yeast to the bowl of a stand mixer and mix for about 5 minutes until it forms an elastic, shiny and cohesive dough. You can of course knead the dough by hand in a large bowl. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave somewhere warm to rise until it has doubled in size. Preheat oven to 250°C.

Line a medium-sized baking tray with baking parchment and pour in a generous Italian sized glug of olive oil. Tip the dough into the tray and stretch out with your fingers so that it roughly reaches each corner. Cover liberally with half of the blackberries and gently press them deep into the dough. Cover again with the tea towel and leave until the dough has doubled in size for the second time. It should have engulfed the blackberries and be wonderfully bubbly.

Now carefully scatter with more blackberries and gently press them in with your fingers, taking care not to deflate the dough. Sprinkle with the remaining sugar, a generous pinch of salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Place in the centre of the oven, again being extremely careful not to knock the tray and deflate the dough. Bake for 30 or so minutes, until golden and bleeding with blackberry juice. Everyone’s oven is different so trust your instincts. The tray might need turning ¾ of the way through to ensure that it colours evenly.

As soon as it’s out of the oven, cover with the rosemary and a drizzle more oil. The residual heat will infuse the rosemary into the bread. Remove from the tray and allow to cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes before diving into the loaf while still warm.

Photograph: Joe Woodhouse

What to drink with goat’s cheese

A classic wine match here would be Sauvignon Blanc. This bottle from Constantia Glen is drinking beautifully now.

For more delicious wine matches, browse our seasonal selection of wines chosen by our Buyers. Julius originally wrote this article for our Autumn 2020 issue of No.3 magazine. To find more on Julius, follow him here.