Every spring and summer, I find myself covered in copious amounts of cuts from picking blackberries in my parent’s front yard. It’s usually this whole big process where I search high and low for my thorn-proof clothes and suit up for battle. Being in my thickest pair of denim jeans, riding boots and a long-sleeved shirt for several hours is not an enjoyable experience and usually makes me temporarily despise blackberries.
Or perhaps it’s more like revisiting my childhood hatred of blackberries. For as long as I can remember, my mother has made blackberry jam. Everyone else loves it, but I do whatever possible to avoid having to eat it. It’s not that it tastes bad, because it doesn’t, it’s just that it’s been ingrained into my DNA that I’m supposed to hate it. Even on vanilla ice cream, I hate it. I pick around it, eating the vanilla ice cream that hasn’t been tainted by blackberry syrup.
Then, out of spite, I decided it was time I needed to start experimenting on my own with blackberries. A couple of years ago, I made blackberry sorbet, which has become a necessity for surviving summertime on the Central Coast. When am feeling super bougie, I’ll even add a generous spoonful of the sorbet into a champagne flute with one of the many sparkling wines produced in the area (McIntyre is one of my favorites). If you’ve been hanging around here long enough, you might remember my favorite grilled French toast that’s an excellent camping recipe. But beyond sorbet, French toast, and this blackberry crumble, I don’t really do a whole lot with blackberries.
And that’s alright.
I think part of my love/hate relationship with blackberries is partially because of the entire cleaning process. I don’t know what it is about my parents yard, but spiders seem to flock by the dozens to the blackberry brambles during the spring and summer months. I kid you not when I say over 90% of blackberries picked are covered by intricate webs that are a pain in the you-know-what to remove from the berries. I completely admit that I tend to get into a hurry while I’m cleaning them, so this year I’m trying something different when it comes to my routine.
Usually I turn on some music and stand at the sink, fishing through spider webs and trying to avoid satan’s minions aka spiders. I like to listen to music that gets me moving and shaking, which is so not helpful when slow and steady wins this particular race. So, I browsed through Audible (I never thought I would be a book-listening person, but boy was I wrong!), and discovered West Cork which is a podcast series. Turns out, listening to Irish voices talking about the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier makes the tedious process of de-webing blackberries a little more tolerable.
Depending upon where you are in the world (and if blackberries are in season in your area), this blackberry crumble could be a perfect treat to enjoy on Mother’s Day. While it might not be a picture-perfect tart or, an indulgent trifle, this crumble will be the perfect finale to a special day, especially if you bake individual crumbles in ramekins or other oven-safe baking dishes.
- 100 grams (3 1/2 ounces) almond paste
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup, cold, cut into chunks unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
- 2 pounds fresh blackberries
- 1/3 cup superfine sugar
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- for dusting, optional turbinado sugar
- for serving, optional vanilla ice cream