This classic combination of flavours is always a hit. The crumble topping is best cooked separately, so that it is satisfyingly crunchy all the way through.
850 g cooking apples, eating apples or a combination of the two, peeled and cubed 60 g Demerara sugar Grated zest from 2 lemons 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1 cinnamon stick 1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste 360 g blackberries, fresh or frozen Freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste 50 g flaked, slivered almonds (optional) Plain yogurt or vanilla ice cream, to serve
For the crumble topping 200 g plain flour (or glutenfree flour such as rice flour) 80 g ground almonds 11⁄2 teaspoons ground cinnamon A pinch of salt 125 g butter, cubed and chilled 150 g Demerara sugar 30 g flaked almonds (optional) Serves 4–6
1 Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F) Gas 3.
2 For the crumble topping, put the flour, almonds, cinnamon and salt into a bowl and mix well. Add the butter and gently rub it in with the tips of your fingers until the mixture is the consistency of fine breadcrumbs — the same result can be achieved more quickly using a food processor. (If using a food processor, pulse the mixture until the desired texture is achieved so the mixture is not overworked.) Add the sugar and flaked/slivered almonds, if using, and stir until evenly combined. Pour the topping mixture onto a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until lightly golden, checking and lightly tossing the mixture halfway through.
3 To make the fruit filling, put the apple, sugar, lemon zest, ground cinnamon, cinnamon stick, vanilla, nutmeg and 4 tablespoons of water in a heavy-based saucepan. Set the pan over medium heat and gently cook the apples until still holding their shape but have softened around the edges, and the sugar has melted. If the moisture evaporates and you feel the apple is catching, add a little more water. Add the blackberries to the mixture and cook gently until heated through. Remove from the heat, take out the cinnamon stick and vanilla bean, if using, and discard. Add lemon juice to taste, then stir in the whole almonds, if using.
4 Divide the fruit filling between individual dishes or 1 large serving dish, sprinkle over the cooked crumble topping and serve with a spoonful of plain yogurt or vanilla ice cream.
Chloe grew up in a veggie household and recently started her own catering company (chloecoker.com). Jan trained at Leiths and now chefs and teaches cookery.