When I go too long without baking something, I tend to lose confidence in my ability to actually bake something delicious. Last week I planned on baking a chocolate cream pie but then our air conditioner decided to go on strike (it has since decided to work again). Before that I wanted to try my hand at homemade pasta, or homemade bread, or homemade ice cream. You get the picture. I don’t have a good excuse for not doing any of it other than I just got lazy. I have been so lazy, in fact, that a ready-made graham cracker pie crust is still on top of my breadbox waiting to be used. It’s been hanging around for a few months. See? I’ve been too lazy to even make filling for a ready-made pie crust.
For the Fourth of July, though, I decided to get off my duff and use up the blackberries that had been sitting in my freezer since March. I thought about baking up another blackberry sonker but my daughter doesn’t like biscuit-y things. That left out a blackberry cobbler, too. I suggested to her a blackberry pie and even that idea was shot down. Seriously, folks. I don’t know where I went wrong with this child of mine. I considered being mean and making a cobbler or a pie anyway, until she finally declared, “I’ll eat a blackberry crumble!”
I’d never had a blackberry crumble before, and I wasn’t so sure the brown sugar that dominates the crumble would even taste good with blackberries (peaches and apples, yes!). In a humongous Cook’s Illustrated cookbook, I found a peach crumble recipe and devised my own from it. Everyone thought it was delicious, even the kid!
Blackberry & Blueberry Crumble
1 1/2 cups of blackberries
2 cups of blueberries
1/2 cup of sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon of cornstarch
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
pinch of salt, ground cinnamon, and nutmeg
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon of sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
6 tablespoons of softened butter cut into pieces
1. Put oven racks in center and at lowest positions and heat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Filling. Put berries and sugar in a large bowl and let sit while you make the crumble, for about 20 minutes or so, gently stirring a few times.
3. Crumble topping. Combine flour, 1/4 cup sugar, brown sugar, salt, and vanilla. Add butter pieces and use hands to mix into flour mixture until it all clumps together and forms small crumbly balls. Pour carefully onto the baking sheet, level the pieces, and bake on middle rack until browned for about 18 minutes. Halfway through baking, remove sheet and move pieces around to bake more evenly.
4. Back to the filling. Drain the berries and reserve at least 1/4 cup of the juice. Pour the drained berries into a glass 8×8 baking dish. Whisk 1/4 cup of the juice with cornstarch, lemon juice, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pour the mixture into the dish over the berries.
5. Assemble and bake. Increase oven temperature to 375. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Evenly spread the baked crumble over the berries. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon over the crumble topping and bake on the foil-lined baking sheet for 25 minutes. Transfer the baking dish to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes.
P.S. The blueberries were introduced when I realized too late in the game how very short I was of blackberries – another lesson in “why one should read a recipe before mixing ingredients”. I’m obviously not a quick learner, but I’ve always managed to MacGyver my way out of trouble and make really delicious stuff.
So, really, why do I think my time away from baking will make the dish less satisfying? Psssh, silly me.
P. P. S. I poured what juice wasn’t needed for the recipe down the drain before I realized how tasty that blackerry/blueberry juice would be in a margarita. Waste not, want not. Right?