Rachel Allen

Ev­ery week, only in LIFE

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Life - - FRONT PAGE -

My daugh­ter, Scar­lett, is an in­trepid for­ager. It used to be me who sug­gested a walk along the hedges near our house to col­lect black­ber­ries. Now, though, she gets out an as­sort­ment of Tup­per­ware con­tain­ers and con­vinces me that it's time to gather the sweet, juicy berries. Scar­lett loves to care­fully pick her way around the spiky branches, fill­ing all her ves­sels, which are then taken home and added to jams, pud­dings and pies, or stirred through au­tumn's first bowl of steam­ing por­ridge.

There is a cer­tain magic to com­bin­ing ap­ples and black­ber­ries. It's one of na­ture's quirks that of­ten in­gre­di­ents that grow to­gether go to­gether, and as black­ber­ries ap­pear, so the ap­ples are ripe for har­vest.

I have put ap­ples and black­ber­ries in to all sorts of dif­fer­ent desserts. This bread-and-but­ter pud­ding is one of my favourites — the rich, thick cus­tard a per­fectly com­fort­ing foil to the sweet fruit and crisp, crunchy bread. I also like that it can be made in ad­vance and left in the fridge overnight, un­cooked. If you’re mak­ing it this way, don't heat up the milk and cream — add them cold to the whisked eggs and sugar.

A crum­ble is one of the sim­plest desserts to bake. The top­ping takes only min­utes to make and of­ten the chopped fruit can be put in, un­cooked. For the black­berry-and-ap­ple crum­ble recipe op­po­site, I cook the ap­ples with sugar first. This soft­ens them and al­lows you to taste and ad­just sugar lev­els, de­pend­ing on their nat­u­ral sweet­ness or sour­ness.

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