Blackberry and apple crumble cake

Autumn is fast approaching – I can feel the slight chill in the mornings now and sadly the nights are slowing drawing in as summer fades. After months of enjoying simple salads and bowls of delicious summer berries and fruits, a comforting crumble cake is a very welcome change.
This truly seasonal blackberry and apple crumble cake takes a little longer to bake than a classic crumble but do try it. Blackberries are ripening now on the bushes – and should be around through September and into October. The further north you live they may be a week or two later than the south of the country. I love to go out and harvest my own on an autumnal ramble across the fields – or of course, they are available in the supermarket.
Home grown dessert apples are ready now too and September and October is when we see the delicious Kent Cobnuts appear. If you can’t track them down (Waitrose usually sell them in Autumn) then a good substitute is hazelnuts.
Serve the cake warm from the oven with a bowl of crème fraiche or a jug of pouring cream. If baking earlier in the day, very gently reheat to serve.
TIP – If making the crumble topping is a step too far for you then sprinkle 2 tablespoons of demerara sugar over the cake before baking.
TIP – I always ensure I have a container full of uncooked crumble in my freezer. That way I can knock up a fruit crumble in no time at all by sprinkling whatever I require over my fruit or berry base – An instant, delicious dessert!

Serves 8

200g unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for the tin
280g self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 dessert apples
juice and finely grated zest of ½ unwaxed lemon
250g golden caster sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
100ml whole milk
250g blackberries

100g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
150g plain flour, sifted
80g light muscovado sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon
handful (about 50g) of roughly chopped cobnuts or hazelnuts

Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Butter a 23cm round springform tin and line the base with baking parchment.
Make the crumble topping first: in a large bowl, rub the butter, flour, sugar and cinnamon together into fine crumbs with your fingertips (if this is over-mixed in a food mixer, it quickly turns to biscuit dough).
For the cake, sift the flour, baking powder, salt, ginger and cinnamon into a large bowl. Peel, core and dice the apples finely and separately toss them in the lemon juice and zest. Set aside.
In another large bowl, using a hand-held electric whisk, or in a food mixer, beat the sugar, cooled melted butter, eggs and vanilla until thick and creamy; this will take a few minutes on high speed. With a large spoon, fold in the flour mixture, alternating with the milk. Don’t over-mix.
Spoon the batter into the prepared tin, then scatter the apples and blackberries over the surface and gently push them in. Sprinkle over the crumble, top with the nuts and bake in the preheated oven for 50–60 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
Cool the cake in the tin for about 10 minutes, then remove from the tin and serve. If making ahead, cool completely on a wire rack, then slightly warm through to serve.
Copyright (c) Fiona Cairns, 2013. Photography by Dan Jones. Extracted from SEASONAL BAKING by Fiona Cairns published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson priced £25 in hardcover and £12.99 in eBook.

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