For the past couple of years, we’ve visited a ‘pick your own’ farm in Autumn to go apple picking. This year, with everything needing booked in advance and a long bus ride with masks not sounding very appealing, a family friend of ours took us to a nearby public orchard instead – it was less than half an hour walk from our house (though he took us by car so we wouldn’t have to carry all the apples home) and we never knew about it before. Such a gem, hidden in plain sight! And before anyone asks, yes, our friend lives alone and has been part of our extended household ever since that rule was brought in here in Scotland, so all perfectly legal and above board.
Unlike the ‘pick your own’ farm, the trees in the public orchard had not been cultivated to grow in such a way that you could easily pick the apples, and since we didn’t take a ladder with us, the boys got a quick lesson in tree climbing first. A couple hours and a picnic later, we returned home with several kilos of apples.
A few days later, we went for a long walk around our local nature reserve. In wise anticipation, we had taking some tubs with us to fill with brambles, which are all ripe for the picking at the moment. And so we ended up baking a delicious crumble that evening, made entirely with foraged apples and brambles. It doesn’t get much better than that!
- About 6-8 apples*
- 200g brambles
- Ground cinnamon
- 150g flour (gluten free if required)
- 100g chilled butter, cut in the cubes
- 30-50g soft brown sugar
- a large handful of porridge oats (gluten free if required, or omit the oats if you can’t get GF ones)
- 1-2 Tbsp extra of brown sugar (optional)
* The number of apples depends a bit on the size of the apples. I use a dish that’s approx. 20cm x 28cm and I just chop up apples until the dish is mostly full.
- Core and chop the apples in to bite sized pieces. I always leave the skin on.
- Place the apples in a saucepan with half a couple tablespoons of water, and simmer over a low heat until they start to soften but are still holding their shape. If it looks like the apples may start to stick to the pan before they are soft enough, add some more water, a tablespoon at a time. Depending on how sweet or not your apples are, you may also want to add Tablespoon or two of sugar at this point. If I am making crumble with e.g. gala apples from the shop, I never add sugar. But the foraged apples were quite tart, so I added just a little sugar to sweeten them up.
- Once the apples start to soften, transfer them to a baking dish (mine is approx. 20cm x 28cm) and add in the brambles.
- Sprinkle over a heaped Tablespoon of ground cinnamon a mix everything together.
- Pre-heat the oven to 200 C for a regular oven or 180C for a fan oven.
- While the oven is heating up, make your crumble topping. Add the flour and chilled butter cubes to a mixing bowl and rub together with your hands until you have something resembling crumbs. Mix in the sugar and oats. For the crumble mix, I always go by the 3-2-1 method a good friend once taught me, for the flour-butter-sugar, which for a dish this size would be 150-100-50, but these days I like to put in a little less sugar so I reduce the sugar to 30g. But if you like it quite sweet you can stick to 50g.
- Sprinkle the crumble mix evenly over the fruit filling.
- Bake in the oven for around 30 minutes.
- We love ours served with pouring cream or custard, even better if the custard is home made.