We’re still out in Tofino, where I’ve settled into a routine of walking into town for coffee, then quickly emptying my cup in order to fill it with the first ripe blackberries of the season. Usually we miss the boat, blackberry-wise, but they seem to be starting earlier this year, a handful on each bush ripening far before their siblings.
I love this design feature – the berries ripen in a staggered schedule, even on the same branch, doling out a few juicy berries a day to keep you going through August. When the first truly black berries arrived, I quickly picked enough to make jam; these days I manage a cup or two full, depending on my perseverance – enough for a batch of scones or a galette.
My dad always requests a crumble, which is easily obliged; every summer I toss berries and stone fruits and rhubarb in pie plates or baking dishes with sugar and a spoonful of flour, then rub together roughly equal quantities of butter, brown sugar, flour and oats – and sometimes a few sliced almonds or chopped pecans – to scatter overtop and bake until it’s bubbly around the edges and crunchy on top. There is no pressure for it to set, or to slice out cleanly; it’s intended for spooning, regardless of how stiff or juicy it is. A crumble (or crisp, whatever you like to call it) is a forgiving summer dessert.
The amount of sugar you use will depend on the fruit and your taste – I like things tart, but blackberries and rhubarb do need a little help. I tossed a pie plate full with about 1/3 cup sugar and a spoonful (1-2 Tbsp.) flour. For the crumble, rub 1/3-1/2 cup each soft butter, brown sugar, flour and oats (if you like – otherwise use twice as much flour as butter and brown sugar) along with a pinch of salt and a shake of cinnamon, if you have it. Sprinkle over the fruit, squeezing it as you go to create larger clumps. You can eyeball it – just make sure you wind up with a mixture that’s crumbly, but holds together when you squeeze some in your hand.
If you have a food processor, blitz it all for a finer texture – nuts are good, too.
Bake at 350F, not worrying if you’re in a rental with a wonky oven, until it’s bubbly and golden, which should take around 45 minutes. Enjoy for breakfast, lunch and dinner.