Damson and Apple Crumble

Crumble is the food I turn to when the evenings start getting darker and it starts getting cooler. The way the sweet, slightly tart fruit of choice bubbles and seeps through the crunchy, crumbly, biscuity top is a sure fire way to warm you from inside to out. What I love about crumble is that it’s so versatile; the fruit is whatever fruit you can get your hands on. 
I think that a person’s crumble is as unique as their fingerprint. Some crumbles are like a great wave of shortbread on top of the fruit, some are all big and little bits scattered willy nilly all over the place, some add extra sugar on the top, some add nuts and some add oats. Whatever your crumble style, it’s your own. 
Damsons and Bramley Apple

Recently I bought some damson jam out of politeness at a local market. I don’t even like jam. When I got home I wondered what on earth I was going to do with it. I got some crusty white bread, some soft unsalted butter and a dollop of the damson jam and it was a revelation. I’m ashamed to say that the loaf and jar were consumed in one sitting. What have I been missing out on all these years? It turns out I do like jam but was left wondering where damsons had been all my life.  
When I noticed some lovely damsons outside my local greengrocer I just had to have them – I’d run out of jam for one thing. They were crying out to be made into a crumble. As I didn’t have that many of them I added an apple to make it go a bit further and add a little sweetness.

Damson and Apple Crumble with Oaty Top

As much as damsons are worth the effort, getting the stones out is a bit of a pain. Nonetheless it had to be done and was successfully completed with a knife, perseverance and brute force.I know that putting the fruit in raw results in better texture but I didn’t know what level of tartness I was dealing with, too much or too little sugar could have rendered it inedible so I played it safe. 

You will need:

  • 2 handfuls damsons, halved and de-stoned
  • 1 large cooking apple, cored and diced
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 175g plain flour
  • 75 butter
  • 50g light muscovado sugar
  • Handful oats

Simmer the damsons, apples, water and first lot of sugar together until just soft.

Put the fruit into an oven proof dish and get the oven on at 190C.

For the crumble, rub the flour into the butter until you’ve got lumps, breadcrumbs or whatever level of crumbliness suits you. Stir in the light muscovado or caster sugar and then put this on top of the damson apple mixture. Scatter the oats over the crumble for good measure.

Place in the oven and wait 45 minutes or until lusciously golden brown.

Damson and Apple Crumble, baked
Just like the crumbliness of your crumble is rather personal, so is what you choose to serve the crumble with. Cream, custard or ice cream? If you go for cream is it single, double, Gold Top or clotted? If custard, ready made or home made? If ice cream should it be vanilla with or without vanilla seeds or should it be clotted cream ice cream? It’s all very complicated and someone will always be upset no matter which you choose. I always opt for cream because I can stir it all together in the bowl and pretend I’m 8 years old again. 
The crumble was absolutely fantastic. The damsons add such richness and gorgeous colour, the apple is just detectable in the background giving it a lovely homely feel. This crumble had extra caramelised bits on the edges of the dish and peeling them off and chewing them has to be one of the most enjoyable things there is. If you’ve not had damsons before or are unsure how to deal with them then I urge you to give this a try. Crumble is such a tried and tested favourite, how could it go wrong?


  1. says

    You’ve made my mouth water!! If I close my eyes I can almost smell that crumble. And YES it always has to go with some kind of ice cream.

  2. says

    I love a crumble and it’s the best dessert to have without a lot of fuss usually. This looks tasty! I have never had Damson….. I’m totally intrigued.

  3. says

    I haven’t had damsons for years. They look great in your crumble. I eat my crumble with all of the above depending on my mood. Creme Fraiche is one of my favourites, I like the acidity that goes with it’s creaminess.

  4. says

    Love this Caroline! I’m always drawn to different fruits that I don’t normally encounter. Envy your hedgerow haul from yesterday! Are these wild Damsons or orchard grown? In any case this looks a delicious way to use them.

  5. says

    I love this about cooking. Everyone putting their own twist on classic recipes. I also turn to cobbler when the weather starts to cool. Yours sounds fantastic!

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