It must have been a hundred years ago that I made this gooseberry crumble. At least. Or perhaps I’ve just lost track of time. I can’t believe that it’s been nearly nine months since I wrote a blog post. Nine months. Really? Life has been busy in all sorts of ways, and whilst that’s just fine, it’s not so great that my blog has been this severely neglected. And more than that, I’ve been missing it too…
However, after careful consideration (and a seemingly endless process of procrastination), I’ve finally – reluctantly – decided that it’s time to say farewell to The Fresh Princess, and that this will be my final post. It hasn’t been an easy decision to make (it feels surprisingly like saying goodbye to an old friend) but, for me, The Fresh Princess is so closely related to a particular time and place, that it really has become stuck there. It makes sense to move on. But, after even more procrastination (which, incidentally I appear to be rather good at), I’ve decided that I will be starting a new blog. So, thank you to everyone who has read and / or followed The Fresh Princess, and I hope that you’ll all come and join me at my new site: A Cat Called Custard.
Anyway, as a final mark of respect to The Fresh Princess, I’ve decided that I will publish the post that I drafted all those months ago (with minor modifications), when I really did get firmly ‘stuck’. I’m going to pretend, then, that I haven’t missed a beat, and that this post, perfect for early summer, is exactly what I intended for this weathered and wind-swept February day…
A Taste of Summer: Gooseberry crumble with clotted cream
After a visit to Los Angeles last year, I came home at the beginning of June to find that summer had arrived: characterised by warm, still mornings and the faint, musty smell of summer rain. By strawberries. By tall, feathery grass dancing in the breeze. By elderflower. By gooseberries…
Like many other things, gooseberries are – at least to me – peculiarly associated with the British summer. I’m sure that I’ve never seen them in California, but perhaps I’ve just not been looking in the right places? It’s an intriguing fruit, and on first acquaintance doesn’t seem to have much potential. The bush from which it comes is a rather straggling, ungainly affair with branches that are punctuated by short, sharp spines capable of packing quite a punch. And in case you’re tempted to think that that’s the extent of their delinquency (and in the spirit of full disclosure), it’s also a pretty good description of the fruit itself, which is generally so tart – even when fully ripe – that it can’t possibly be eaten raw. It’s possibly the only summer fruit that you’re not going to be tempted to sample whilst picking. But it’s also incredibly beautiful, and beyond the sparse covering of short, sturdy hairs there is a firm, bright green, almost translucent berry – larger and denser than a grape – clearly patterned with a web of paler veins. Open it up and you’ve got something that resembles perfection. But of course, you’ve also got something that performs as a scary do-it-yourself prop, playing an almost exemplary role as the comedy “eye-ball”. As I mentioned earlier, it’s an intriguing fruit.
But it’s also a versatile fruit and is used in countless desserts, including the classic gooseberry fool (where the fruit is poached, puréed and mixed with custard and whipped cream), as well as a flavourful filling for pies and crumbles. It’s also commonly made into jam or fruit wine, or a tart sauce to accompany savoury dishes, especially fatty meats such as pork and goose, as well as oily fish like mackerel.
The gooseberries that I acquired from my greengrocer in early June were destined to go into a crumble, made with a beautiful sweet and nutty topping that goes incredibly well with this sour fruit. On a cooler day, I’m sure it would have gone well with custard. I’m told that it also works comfortably with a good vanilla ice-cream (if, of course, you like that sort of thing). But for me – at least on this occasion – it had to be a generous (simple and delicious) dollop of clotted cream.
So, just in case you missed it above, this is going to be the last post from The Fresh Princess (I’m feeling surprisingly emotional now actually), but do come and find me instead at A Cat Called Custard…
Recipe: Gooseberry Crumble
For the crumble topping:
125g butter, diced
125g muscovado sugar
85g ground almonds
40g flaked almonds
35g roughly chopped hazelnuts
For the gooseberry filling:
100g brown granulated sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F / Gas mark 6
To make the crumble topping…
Put the sugar, ground almonds and flour in a large bowl, and mix together completely (you can use your hands to do this).
Add the diced butter and rub into the mix until it looks like rough breadcrumbs.
Add the flaked almonds and roughly chopped hazelnuts, mixing everything together.
To make the gooseberry filling…
Top, tail and wash the gooseberries. Place them into a serving dish (or several small dishes, as I did here), and sprinkle over the sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon.
Cover with the crumble mix.
Place in the oven for 25-30 minutes. The crumble should be golden brown and bubbling.
Adapted from: http://www.greatbritishchefs.com