Apple and blackberry crisp


Boiler saga update:

The British Gas man returned and fixed the gas valve, so no more leak.  This is Good News. However, having fixed that, something else broke, which he did not have a spare part to repair.  This is Not Good News.

The boiler is approximately 22 years old, and the colourful expression used by the gas man was that fixing bits of it only to have something else break is like “putting new shoes on a dead horse”.  Called the landlord in the hope that he would let British Gas quote for replacing the boiler.  Landlord’s verbatim response was that he “will not be strong-armed into buying a new boiler at a time that’s inconvenient just because British Gas can’t be bothered to order the parts”.  Inconvenient?  Spoken like a man who is sitting in his snug house with his boiler making the house toasty as he runs himself a nice hot bath.

There are no words.

So the lovely British Gas man is returning tomorrow with yet another part and I am praying to have my heating back on tomorrow night.  Either that or I will have to run my new washing machine on its hottest cycle and sleep snuggled up next to it :o)

Enough of that – let me cheer myself up by talking about food. The time has come, the walrus said, to talk of many things – of crisps, crumbles and cobblers; of sweets fit for a king. (apologies to Lewis Carrol!)

So do you know the difference between these desserts?

  • A pie is a baked dish which is usually made of a pastry dough shell that covers or completely contains a filling of various sweet or savoury ingredients.
  • A tart is a pastry dish, usually sweet, that is a type of pie with an open top that is not covered with pastry.
  • A crisp is a type of dessert, usually consisting of a type of fruit, baked with a crispy topping, hence the name. The topping usually consists of butter, flour, oats, brown sugar and usually spices such as cinnamon and/or nutmeg.
  • A crumble is a dish of British origin containing stewed fruit topped with a crumbly mixture of fat (usually butter), flour, and sugar.
  • A cobbler: In the United States, it is usually a dessert consisting of a fruit filling poured into a large baking dish over a batter that rises through when baking. The batter forms as a dumpling within the cobbler as well as a crust for the top. In the United Kingdom it is usually a savoury meat dish, typically a lamb casserole, which is covered with a savoury scone-like topping—each scone (or biscuit) forming a separable cobbler.

Out of all of these, I like the crisp best – those oats become so deliciously crispy and their presence can almost convince me that I’m eating health food ;).  I made this recipe a month or two back, before we went to Chicago and when blackberries were still plentiful at the markets.  It’s a great way to use up an apple glut that always seems to occur at this time of the year – and a great way to take your mind off your boiler problems :)

20080810 AppleBlackberryCrispCollage


3 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 cup fresh or frozen blackberries
125 ml – 175 ml sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
Grated zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
1/4 cup flour
1/3 cup cold butter, cut into chunks
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup almonds, chopped
Butter (for greasing)


In a large bowl combine the apples, blackberries, sugar, cornstarch and zest and toss to blend.

Pre-heat the oven to 180C.  Mix the oats, flour, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt together in a large bowl. Work mixture together with fingers until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add almonds and blend well.

Butter an 20x20cm baking dish. Pour the fruit filling into dish and mound the topping over filling, covering it completely. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until bubbly and golden.

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  1. says

    Oh No…, sorry to hear about that. Can’t believe it. I hope everything will be fix tomorrow and nothing else is broken.
    That crisp look really delish, and thank you for all of those explanation. I know the different between pie and tart, but the rest (since I never really interested to make them) I kind of confuse a little bit. Your explanation really help! Thank you…

  2. says

    Hang in there . I see light at the end of all of this. I dont eat enough crisps. But those buttery oats are really delicious. And Its way better for you than pie crust.

  3. says

    Blackberry and apple makes me feel all home-sick for a moment! But then thoughts of British Gas right the balance again! Hope it gets fixed before you have to crawl inside your washing machine on the rinse cycle for a warm bath!
    Just to make you feel better about November in London – it’s pouring with rain, with high winds here and I’m back in my winter jeans and jumper, sending the kids to school in wellies.

  4. says

    Lovely combination blackberries and apples, looks dvivine. Thank for the definitions of tart, pie ecc. Sometimes it’s hard for a not-native english speaker to spy the difference. (also like our ‘cake’ is a totally different thing than a ‘cake’ in america)
    I hope that your boiler can be resussitated and nothing else breads down!

  5. says

    Hey Jeanne, so sorry to hear about your gas/washing machine troubles, hope you’re sorted with it all soon… still could be worse, no? could be snowing! 😉
    Speaking of which we had some last week! Spring in NZ…huh!
    Really admire your NaBloPoMo undertaking and I’d just love some of your super delicious looking crisp, would it be too much to ask for a little English custard to go with? Am I bad? or am I bad?

  6. says

    Hee, Bron is tempting fate :) I hope it all resolves really soon!
    My favorite would have to be the crumble. But I would never say no to your lovely crisp either! :)

  7. says

    I’m not really a fan of hot fruit puddings but this still looks delicious. Sorry about your British Gas woes, I have had my fair share of annoying landlords over the years and can simpathise with the ‘not my problem’ attitude. Hope it gets sorted out soon.

  8. says

    you know, you’re always welcome to come for another sleepover here (or even just a shower, but i bet you do that at the gym twice daily anyway ;-))
    those are the moments when i wish i wasn’t renting. sure, i’d have to pay for the repair myself, but at least i could make my own decisions and set my own priorities.
    threaten your landlord you’ll camp out at his until it’s fixed 😉

  9. says

    Thanks for the handy information on all the delicious puds. I am a crumble kinda girl…..It is so cold here at the moment that I might just make this for tonight. We have something to celebrate. My son is getting an award at his prize-giving tonight.

  10. says

    I’ve had that landlord conversation too. Except it was January, absolutely baltic, and I was constantly throwing up due to morning sickness. Having one’s teeth chatter while throwing up is something I don’t want to repeat.
    Anyway, I hope your very elderly boiler can find a new lease of life and that the crisp kept you warm for a few hours!
    BTW, I picked up a few gem squash at the farm shop on Monday. Would you like me to save the seeds for you?

  11. says

    I call your crisp my crumble but never heard of crisps til I started blogging – bet it tasted good though!
    As for landlords – he sounds like an eejit – sorry you are missing your hot baths but when he ends up paying for all the repairs and a new boiler then hope you will have the last laugh!

  12. says

    i’ve never really given it much thought, but i do believe that i prefer a crisp as well. however, it’s not always as good left-over–the crisp seems to fade away. yep, fresh-out-of-the-oven crisp is the way to go. :)

  13. says

    Just thought I’d let you know that the recipe is marvellous! We made it exactly like yours but had to play with the crust a little because there wasn’t enough oats and in this wind, nobody was going anywhere. Anyway – we made up the quantity with crushed pecans and it worked just fine.
    You rock girl!!!

  14. says

    Interesting to see the different definitions of crips, crumble and so on. My husband and I have been missing good old English apple crumbles (I know, I know, I should just make my own!). The ones we’ve had here in Vancouver are more like crisp as you’ve described although they are labelled as crumble – very oaty topping.

  15. says

    OOHH….I made this and it was DELICIOUS!!! I can’t wait to make it again for Christmas. The site is great and I have added you to my “list of KEEPERS” Thank you for all the hard work!! cooking with emotions