Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Gooseberry Crumble

A taste of June in January

The Ewing Feels Like a Proverbial
No sooner had I posted my last blog bemoaning the glut of gooseberries languishing in the freezer than the freezer decides to pack up.  Luckily the Ewing deduced the fridge light had blown, blowing the main fuse.  So while she rushed around unscrewing things and depositing our still uneaten Christmas turkey at her mum's house (another story...) it gave me a chance to defrost the glacier of ice behind the vegetable drawer, throw some of the unidentifiable nuggets of frozen stuff out and finally do something with the unloved goosegogs.

A much-maligned fruit, with is glorious green translucency, the gooseberry still remains one of my firm favourites.  As a child I remember the currant canes and gooseberries bushes at the end of the garden and the many happy afternoons spent picking the sweet sour berries and eating them until we got stomachaches.  With its very short season, sometimes lip puckering sourness and its fearsome thorns the gooseberry tries its hardest not to be loved.  But pureed and stirred into billowy clouds of cream to make a summery fool or in a warm, flaky-crusted pie with a dollop of cold ice cream, who could fail to be enchanted?

I started off with rather ambitious ideas about making a chutney to serve with oily fish, such as mackerel, or maybe roast pork.  But with the lowering clouds and rain against the kitchen window what better way to end a winter weekend than a gloriously hot, crunchy, rib-sticking bowl of crumble with custard.

Gooseberry crumble
Serves 4

Gooseberries 1kg
3-4 desert spoons Sugar (or to taste)
Big splash of Elderflower cordial (optional)
150g Flour
100g Brown sugar
100g Butter cubed
Porridge oats, a small handful (optional, or use slightly more flour)

Place the gooseberries in a pan with a splash of water, sugar and the elderflower cordial (if using).  Place on a gentle heat and cook until the berries begin to soften and breakdown slightly. 
(You don't have to cook the gooseberries before you bake the crumble, just place them straight in the dish and sprinkle with the sugar.  Although this is a slightly quicker method  I find the top can burn before the berries are soft.)

Rub the butter into the flour and sugar until the mixture resembles rough breadcrumbs.  I do this by hand but you can use a food processor. Try not to over work, crumble is best when it's rough and rubble like. Mix in some oats for extra crunch if you want. (Ground or flaked almonds are also a good addition to the crumble topping.)

Place berries into an ovenproof dish and cover with the crumble mixture.  Bake for 30 minutes at 180c until golden on top and bubbling.

Serve with cream, custard or ice cream

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