Blackberry and Apple crumble cupcakes

Blackberry picking – a nostalgic escapade of purple-stained fingers, thorny prickles and sweet, juicy berries by the dozen. And what scrummy goods we can create with our pickings! (Thanks to Louise Holme and the Boden Blog)

We’re approaching season’s end for these delectable treats but if you manage to spot a few unpicked and ripe for eating, a few things to remember; 

  1. Don’t pick too close to roads – the exhaust fumes may have polluted the fruits.  
  2. If you dare to pick below knee height make sure you wash them thoroughly, they are likely to be the target of sprinkles from many a pet pooch. 
  3. The best berries are the juiciest ones, but don’t forget that the juice stains, both skin and clothes.  

These cupcakes are my tea-time alternative (and by no means a replacement for) the classic crumble.  Apple chips can be bought in health food shops or you can make your own.  Any leftovers will make a tasty snack for adults and children alike.

For the apple chips:

1 Granny Smith apple
Juice of 1 lemon
100g caster sugar
250ml water

  • Wash and dry the apple.  Slice as thinly as possible (without peeling or coring), discarding the ends.
  • Lay the slices on a plate as you go, and sprinkle with lemon juice to prevent browning.  Discard any pips.
  • Place the sugar and water in a pan over a low heat.  Dissolve the sugar and bring to the boil.
  • Pour the sugar syrup into a bowl and plunge the apple slices ensuring all slices have had a coating.  Leave overnight.
  • Preheat the oven to 100°C.  Drain the apple slices and dry both sides using kitchen paper. Lay out on a baking tray lined with baking parchment.
  • Dry out the slices in the oven for 1 hour, turning them over half way through.
  • Store in an air-tight container.

For the cupcakes (makes 12):

200g blackberries (frozen blackberries will also work)
1 Bramley apple (large)
1 tsp cinnamon
1tsp soft brown sugar
6 cloves
225g unsalted butter
215g caster sugar
225g self-raising flour
4 medium eggs (beaten)

For the frosting:

250g icing sugar
80g unsalted butter (room temperature)
Handful of porridge oats (toasted on a baking sheet in a low-heat oven)
12 apple chips
12 blackberries

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  • Peel the apple (discarding the peel) and continue peeling thin slices into a pan.  Once all of the apple has been peeled down to the core, add a splash of water, the cinnamon, soft brown sugar and cloves to the pan and place over a low heat.
  • Place the berries in another pan with a splash of water and place over a low heat. Add sugar to taste if the berries are bitter.
  • Once both fruits have softened to a lumpy puree consistency, remove from the heat.  Remove the cloves from the apple and drain any liquid from the berries into a jug – you’ll need this later.
  • Make the basic sponge mix by creaming the butter with the caster sugar, add the eggs and fold in the flour.
  • Separate half the mixture into another bowl and fold in the cooked apple to one mix and the berries to the other.  (It should be approximately one part fruit to two parts cake mix.)
  • Line a muffin tin with 12 muffin cases and spoon both mixtures into the cases, alternating flavours to create a marbled effect until the cases are two thirds full.
  • Bake in the oven for around 20 minutes or until springy and golden.
  • Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.
  • Combine the icing sugar with the butter.  Add the blackberry juice leftover form earlier a little at a time until you reach a fluffy, creamy consistency and a fabulous pink colour.
  • Once the muffins are cool, add the blackberry frosting.  You can use a table-knife heated in a bowl of hot water to smooth the edges.
  • Dunk the iced cupcakes into a bowl of toasted porridge oats and shake off any extras.
  • Finish with a blackberry and an apple chip.

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