Apple & blackberry crumble with custard

A recipe from What to Cook and How to Cook it

Preparation: 30 minutes

Cooking: 45-50 minutes

Serves: 6


1 kg (2½lb) apples, preferably Bramley but Granny Smith, Rome, Jonagold or Golden Delicious can be used

150g (5oz) (1 cup) blackberries

175g (6oz) (¾ cup plus 2 tbsp) caster or fine sugar

½ lemon

175g (6oz) (1¼ cups plus 2 tbsp) plain or all-purpose flour

¼ tsp flaky sea salt or kosher salt

150g (5oz) (1¼ sticks) (⅔ cup) cold unsalted butter

1 whole nutmeg, for grating

50g (2oz) (½ cup) rolled oats

2 tsp corn flour or cornstarch

300ml (½ pint) (1¼ cups) milk

300ml (½ pint) (1¼ cups) double or heavy cream

1 vanilla pod or 1 tsp vanilla extract

4 eggs


Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5. Peel and core the apples, then cut them into thick slices.

Spread out the apples and blackberries in a large baking dish, then stir in 1 tablespoon of the sugar and the juice from the lemon half.

Next, make the crumble topping. Put the flour and salt into a large bowl. Cut the butter into cubes and add it to the bowl.

Rub the ingredients together. To do this, use both hands to lift the butter and flour from the bowl, then gently pass them between your fingers and thumbs as they drop back into the bowl.

As you repeat the action, the butter will gradually work its way into the flour. Lift the mixture up as you go, to keep it cool and aerated.

The mixture should resemble fine bread crumbs. Finely grate 1 teaspoon nutmeg, then stir this, 100g (3½oz) (½cup) of the remaining sugar and the oats into the crumble mixture.

Spread the crumble mixture over the fruit in an even layer. Bake the crumble for 45-50 minutes, until the topping is dark golden and crisp and the fruit is bubbling underneath.

Meanwhile, make the custard. Mix the cornflour orcornstarch with 2 tablespoons of the milk in a small bowl, stirring until smooth.

Pour this mixture into a medium nonstick saucepan along with the rest of the milk, the double or heavy cream, the remaining 40g (1½ oz) sugar, and the seeds from the vanilla pod, or the vanilla extract. Separate the eggs and add the yolks to the pan.

Whisk together, then put the pan over low-to-medium heat. Bring the custard just to the boil, whisking all the time, until it thickens.

It’s ready when you can draw a line through the custard on the back of a wooden spoon.

LUMPS IN THE CUSTARD? Adding a little cornstarch stabilizes and thickens the custard, making it much more difficult to overcook the egg in the mix. If the custard does look lumpy at any point, don’t worry, just pass it through a finemesh sieve.

Serve the crumble warm, with the custard passed separately for each guest to pour over the crumble.