When I was a little girl, one of my favorite things to do in the summer was pick blackberries. I grew up in the Indiana countryside, and alongside fence rows, fields, and woods wild blackberries grew. I remember my dad taking a big bowl from the kitchen, filling it up to the top, and bringing them back to be washed and packed into plastic bags for the winter. The best part about blackberry season was my mom making blackberry dumplings. She’d mix the berries with sugar and get them really hot in the oven. While the berries started bubbling, she’d make biscuit dough and then, with the door of the oven hanging open and the rack pulled out, she’d drop the biscuit dough onto the hot berries and return the dish to the oven. The tops of the dumplings would be crisp but the bottoms were deep purple and tender from soaking up the berry juices. Finally, it was the moment we’d be waiting for: we’d have a serving of warm dumplings topped with cold ice cream and more berries that were hidden under the dumplings. It’s a happy memory for me.
I recreated a version of her dumplings here, free of grains and refined sweeteners.
Recently, my boyfriend and I had a meandering weekend. We stopped at our favorite breakfast place, Gillwood’s Cafe in St. Helena, then walked around Calistoga for a little while. It was blazing hot, so I said “let’s go to the ocean!” I found Dillon Beach on my phone and off we went. After throwing a frisbee for a while and lounging in the sun, we decided to head back towards Napa. All along the way I was amazed at how many blackberry bushes there were. When we stopped at a stop sign I jumped out and grabbed some for us to sample. They were perfect. So on our way to dinner I had us stop and pick some. We didn’t have a bucket and there was no Home Depot nearby to buy one, so I picked them into a cloth grocery sack. We picked about 4 lbs of berries which were destined for a crumble. I figured if we did the work we earned a dessert.
Afterwards we had an awesome dinner at Rocker Oysterfellers. I had gumbo and a butter lettuce salad and my boyfriend had fried chicken and mashed potatoes and gravy. Of course we started the meal with oysters!
Next stop was to get a proper bucket for the berries. I was worried the juice would stain the upholstery of the car, so I held the bag in my lap. Then I noticed my legs started to feel damp…and I looked down and there was all this purple juice leaking from the bag! Just the sheer weight of each berry stacked on top of each other made the bag start to leak! By the time we got to home depot my legs looked like I had fallen down a flight of stairs. But it was so worth it.
We were too tired to make the crumble that night so we just bought the ingredients along with a foam football for the next beach visit (of course we threw the ball down the aisle of the store a few times to test it out).
The next morning was serious crumble time! It was the perfect breakfast with Greek yogurt. I even shared some with a neighbor who, in return, gave us some homemade frittata that we had for lunch.
I hope you enjoy this crumble recipe. You can try it with other fruit, too! If you get to pick the fruit yourself, that’s even better!
- 16 cups fresh or frozen blackberries (measure frozen ones while they're still frozen)
- 3 tbsp arrowroot starch
- 1 cup coconut sugar, divided
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup gluten free flour (I used Cup 4 Cup Wholesome)
- 1/2 cup cold butter
- 1 1/2 cups gluten free old fashioned oatmeal
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds
- 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- 2. Combine berries with arrowroot and half of the sugar. Toss to coat and pour into a greased 9"x13" cake pan.
- 3. Combine remaining ingredients. With a pastry cutter, fork, or your hands, mix the butter in until it forms crumbs (see picture below).
- 4. Pour the crumble mixture over the berries and spread evenly. Bake 40-45 min or until the crumble is browned. Serve warm, with cream or ice cream, if desired. Also delicious cold.