Blackberry, Peach, and Ginger Crumble

August 16, 2010 at 6:05 pm 49 comments

Blackberry, Peach, and Ginger Crumble

It’s August, and that means it’s blackberry season in the pacific northwest.

The blackberry bushes here are inescapable, weeds even. I pass the thorny plants growing along our neighborhood, behind my school, and against the sidewalks. We had some in our backyard when we first bought the house, until my mother hacked the branches away in a fit of determination. Every year, when I spot the fat berries hanging low on their vines, like clusters of black beads, it feels more like summer than anything.

I’ve been seeing them all month, but I haven’t been craving them… Until a few days ago. I was sitting at the dinner table, thumbing through the pile of cookbooks that live there permanently. It’s my habit when I’m bored. I flip back to the dessert section and try to make myself hungry. That day, I saw a marionberry tart, but for some reason it made me want blackberries.

Blackberry, Peach, and Ginger Crumble

Because they’re so expensive, I didn’t eat a lot of berries growing up. Even today, in my mind they’re exotic. Raspberries, blueberries, marionberries – they should be reserved for special occasions, like a birthday or celebration. But blackberries are so plentiful here, and so easy to get.

When I was in elementary school, my mom and I liked to visit a park by our old condo. I’d never seen so many blackberry bushes before. They towered high over my head like a maze, and the air between them seemed to buzz with insects and filtered sunlight and the sweetness of sugar. It all came back to me in a rush as I sat there with the cookbook in my hands.

I couldn’t get blackberries out of my mind. When I decide I want something, I just can’t avoid it. I mentioned the berries over and over to my parents. My mom said she remembered where the park was, so after breakfast we headed out. We were nearly there when my dad pulled the car onto a fence-lined stretch of gravel in a rare patch of shade.

Blackberry, Peach, and Ginger Crumble

“This isn’t the park,” I protested, but he pointed along the side of the road.

“They’re everywhere,” he said, pointing at the blackberry brambles twisting in and out of the barbed wire.

I was doubtful as I opened the trunk and passed out bowls to my parents. This didn’t seem as nostalgic and serene as my memories at the park. Even in the shade we couldn’t escape the hazy swelter of the afternoon sun, like hot breath on our backs. Spiders dangled from leaves and cars sped behind us in a whirr.

We spaced ourselves several meters apart from each other. I reached for the darkest, plumpest berries on the highest vines, straining on my tiptoes and stretching up. As gentle as I tried to be, they burst out of their skins when I dropped them into my bowl. Before long my hands were perfumed with juice, which stained the ridges of my fingerprints purple-red and smelled like August.

The whole way home, I breathed the fragrance in and dreamed of dessert.

Blackberry, Peach, and Ginger Crumble

And I got it. The blackberries are truly the star of this blackberry, peach, and ginger crumble.

The peaches are really delicious too. I like peaches, but I can’t say that I love them. I don’t think I’ve ever had a perfect peach, or even a really good one. The rest of my family has – every year my grandma wistfully describes fresh peach ice cream and lattice peach pie. Or better – fresh and still sun warmed, eaten off the tree. But me? I’m satisfied to cut them into rough chunks and toss them with berries in a crumble.

And the ginger was almost an afterthought, but such a good one. I loved dicing the crystallized ginger into tiny cubes, because it left big sugar crystals and the sharpness of ginger all over my cutting board. You only get a little in each bite, but you know it when you find it.

The original recipe calls this dessert a crisp, but I substituted some cream cheese into the oat topping. I had some leftover to use up, and the result was delicious. I could taste a subtle tang, and it made the topping a little soft and chewy. I’m not sure what makes a crumble a crumble, but somehow “crisp” didn’t seem right. All I know is that I shamelessly dug into whatever-you-call-it straight out of the pan, hot or chilled, for breakfast or for dessert in the warm twilight.

Blackberry, Peach, and Ginger Crumble

Blackberry, Peach, and Ginger Crumble
Inspired & Based on 101 Cookbooks
Makes an 8×8″ pan

Fruit Filling
1 1/2 pounds ripe peaches (about 3 large peaches)
8 oz (about 1 1/2 cups) fresh blackberries
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Zest of a tangerine
1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

Cream Cheese Oat Topping
3/4 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Big pinch of salt
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup cream cheese, room temperature

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and place a rack in the center.

Rinse all the fruit. Cut the peaches into bite-sized chunks. I quartered my peaches, and cut each quarter into 4 chunks. Set the blackberries and chopped peaches in a medium bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, orange zest, and chopped ginger. Sprinkle it over the fruit and gently toss to thoroughly combine. Transfer the fruit mixture to an 8×8″ baking pan.

To make the cream cheese oat topping, whisk together the oats, flour, sugar, and ground ginger. Stir in the butter with a fork, then stir in the cream cheese until a coarse, dough-like topping forms. Sprinkle it in chunks over the fruit in the pan.

Bake the crumble for 20-25 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown. I like it hot, warm, and (though my mother can’t believe it) straight from the refrigerator.

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Entry filed under: Breakfast/Brunch, Other Treats. Tags: , , , , , , .

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49 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking  |  August 16, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    Wow, Elissa… This looks so warm and comforting. I can’t wait to use those fall flavors of cinnamon and nutmeg even more as we get closer to fall! Beautiful recipe and post, as always. Keep up the good work!

  • 2. Tessa  |  August 16, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    This looks amazingly tasty Elissa! The photos on this post are gorgeous and I love your writing (as usual!). I wish blackberries grew here :(

  • 3. Jeannie  |  August 16, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    I get so excited when I see a new post because I know it will always amaze me. Photography, writing, the food- it’s all amazing. Very very amazing.

  • 4. Tessa  |  August 16, 2010 at 10:09 pm

    This looks so tasty! My housemates and I have been picking lots of blackberries from the side of the road lately, and we made blackberry jam but I think this is the next recipe on the list!

  • 5. Stephanie  |  August 16, 2010 at 10:41 pm

    Whenever I look on your blog and see a new post it absolutely makes my day :) Your photography and writing is beautiful and inspiring. I feel like I know you so well from your posts! ( that sounds a bit weird…) I love crumbles and I agree with you that they taste just as wonderful straight from the fridge as they do hot from the oven!

  • 6. Vonny  |  August 16, 2010 at 11:54 pm

    This looks… beyond amazing. Definitely adding this to my holiday cooking list. Thank you for sharing yet another inspiring post!

  • 7. Indigo  |  August 17, 2010 at 12:14 am

    The blackberries (or brambles as a lot of scots call them) have long since taken over the sides of the cycle paths here. They’re one of those things that just grow in every kind of weather.
    This looks wonderful, we used to have crumble a lot but now I definitely want to make it again now!

  • 8. nikki  |  August 17, 2010 at 5:54 am

    wow, you are really talented. from the writing to the photography, amazing! and that crumble sounds fantastic!!!

  • 9. Adriana from Bittersweet Baker  |  August 17, 2010 at 6:07 am

    I just wanted to thank you again for switching to Flickr. That is one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me. I would definitely have continued reading your blog if I couldn’t see your photographs, but with photos your blog is beyond amazing! Thanks a lot Elissa!

    This crumble looks delicious- with all the fresh fruit we get during summer I have to try it! And ginger anything is good!

  • 10. Chef Tom  |  August 17, 2010 at 7:32 am

    Very inspiring. Love your blog and I read a lot of blogs and yours ranks at the top!!

  • 11. Dana - Food for Thought  |  August 17, 2010 at 8:19 am

    This dessert looks delicious, and your pictures are beautiful!

  • 12. Sally  |  August 17, 2010 at 9:34 am

    When I hear ‘crumble’ I know Autumn is on its way, and this one is a lovely way to usher in the season… We’re planning to make home made blackberry wine with our bumper crop!

  • 13. Ana  |  August 17, 2010 at 11:41 am

    I love your blog!

  • 14. stylefyles  |  August 17, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    This sounds fantastic! I looooove blackberries.

  • 15. Sharlene  |  August 17, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    This definitely sounds like a transition dessert from summer into fall. I just made a blackberry cake today and everyone adored it. Combined with peaches and ginger it sounds so comforting I can’t wait to try it out myself!

  • 16. katieallover  |  August 17, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    Honestly, can I just like, be you? Your blog is beautiful and your recipes are just so inspiring I literally check your blog every single day. Don’t ever stop baking! ;)

  • 17. Margarita  |  August 17, 2010 at 9:58 pm

    Wow!!!!!!!!!! That picture of the blackberries is outstanding. They look like dark jewels ready to be hung as earrings. Oh, yummy, I love the berries and when you put them in a warm crumble, crisp, or cobbler and then make it ala mode with french vanilla ice cream melting on top, well, that makes it a perfect end of summer evening. Just reading your words and looking at those gorgeous pictures, satisfies my cravings until I can get the real thing. Thank you again for this delicious post.

  • 18. Bonnie Riffle  |  August 18, 2010 at 6:09 am

    I love earth’s bounty. I think it is wonderful that you can pick berries for free. I love what the earth provides for us, it is the main reason why I love to cook and bake.

    • 19. antakya biberi  |  February 24, 2012 at 7:47 am

      You’re a very good writer!

  • 20. Maddie  |  August 18, 2010 at 7:32 am

    Berry-picking is my absolute favorite, and it’s even better when you take your favorite people along. It’s raspberry season in Virginia, so I’m eyeing those next!

    And next time I get the opportunity to experiment with crystallized ginger, I’m taking it. :)

  • 21. Maria  |  August 18, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    The ultimate summer dessert. I love the ginger addition!

  • 22. Lauren  |  August 18, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    When I was little, we had raspberry bushes in the backyard. I don’t know why, but we got rid of them a handful of years ago. Pulling those perfect and ready to burst raspberries off the vine with my fingers was a magic occasion. None tasted as good as those ones. There is nothing like picking them yourself :).

  • 23. Danielle  |  August 19, 2010 at 6:53 am

    I love blackberries. This look delicious!

  • 24. Sarah  |  August 19, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    Speaking of the differences between various fruit desserts, I recently discovered this:

    Unfortunately it doesn’t include slumps or grunts (how on earth did such sweet, delicious desserts acquire such silly unshaven-men-with-plumbers-cracks-showing names?) but it’s still a wonderful guide from our dear departed Gourmet Magazine.

  • 25. Jessica  |  August 21, 2010 at 11:20 am

    Loved your post. I never picked berries with my parents, but we did pick pecans from time to time so your story brought back a lot of memories!

    I love this crisp, the flavor combo is a definite hit. Thanks for sharing!

  • 26.  |  August 21, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    Hey, love love love the recipe. We moved to Malaysia a while back and we were shocked at how expensive strawberries were over here. Back home in Egypt, we could buy strawberries by the bucket for almost nothing. Really makes you appreciate the stuff you left back home.

  • 27. Ellie  |  August 22, 2010 at 2:12 am

    This looks delicious. I wish I could get blackberries here in Israel. Have to save this one for another time.

  • 28. SohdaLex  |  August 22, 2010 at 10:59 am

    This looks delicious, what a combination of flavors!

  • 29. Iryna  |  August 22, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    I used to live in the Ukraine before I moved to Canada, and whenever I come back from a visit there, there’s on thing that I guiltily miss the most: the berries. The strawberries are redder in the inside then the outside, the blueberries actually taste sweet, and the blackberries are, to put it bluntly, just wow. Thanks for the recipe – your photos are amazing, as always. :)

  • 30. Lexi  |  August 23, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    I love blackberries. I can almost smell that crumble baking. Yum.

  • 31. lynne  |  August 23, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    I was just in seattle like yesterday! and omg, the blackberries and practically every fruit I had (especially the peaches!!!) were out of this world!!

    I really like your blog! It has so many yummy recipes! I’m 15, and started my own baking blog after stumbling upon other baking blogs. Your blog is super amazing and inspiring!! Thanks for all the great ideas!!

  • 32. C.J.  |  August 25, 2010 at 12:44 am

    You’re a very good writer!

  • 33. Cooking Gallery  |  August 25, 2010 at 4:24 am

    Your blackberry picture looks amazing, just stumbled upon your blog and I think it’s terrific! Keep up the good job (p.s I am in my 20s and cannot bake well ;))!

  • 34. Rebecca  |  August 25, 2010 at 5:24 am

    Yummy!! Your making my mouth water.

  • 35. She Whisks  |  August 25, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    I just love ur blog! Serious, u have real talent in so many areas! Loving the food so much and your photography just makes it even more appealing!! xxx

  • 36. Jamie  |  August 27, 2010 at 2:19 am

    Absolutely love blackberries and peaches and this is the perfect dessert for both! Stunning! And I love picking berries. Used to pick the blackberries near my in-laws house but they were tiny and hard. We ate them anyway.

  • 37. bittersweetbaker  |  August 27, 2010 at 10:52 am

    Elissa, I had to comment again. I made this yesterday evening for dessert, and the whole thing (except for a couple spoonfuls saved for my mother’s breakfast this morning) was devoured. It was so, so good. Thank you for such a great recipe!

  • 38. Ingrid  |  August 29, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    I love any kind of berry crumble! Yum

  • 39. smspizza  |  September 15, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    That looks awesome, i will try it. please do not put this kind of pic, makes me hungry smspizza :)))

  • 40. jenn  |  September 16, 2010 at 7:29 am

    What a great combination of flavors! Tangy, sweet, unique. A choice afterthought, indeed. You are so talented!

  • 41. Amelia from Z Tasty Life  |  September 16, 2010 at 11:11 am

    the ginger is a wonderfully refreshing touch

  • 42. ali  |  November 24, 2010 at 4:16 am

    the ginger is a wonderfully refreshing touch

  • 43. izmir escort  |  December 22, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    I was just in seattle like yesterday! and omg, the blackberries and practically every fruit I had (especially the peaches!!!) were out of this world!!

  • 44. ginsengli bobo  |  December 23, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    You’re a very good writer!

  • 45. koygote  |  March 13, 2011 at 7:05 am

    I love any kind of berry crumble! Yum

  • 46. ers  |  March 15, 2011 at 1:32 am

    I did a small blog post on my blog about you and bento boxes I hope you can come visit..

  • 47. sikiş  |  May 22, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    thanks for sharing i love this idea and i will check everytime your post:))
    see ya again in new post.wish you continued success

  • 48. Nectarine, Thyme and Raspberry Crumble | BowlLicking  |  January 14, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    […] Inspired by this 101 cookbooks recipe and this adaptation from 17 and Baking […]

  • 49. Nicole  |  January 14, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    Crisps and crumbles will never win a beauty contest (though you did a nice job photographing this) but they are my go-to dessert when I am in possession of a glut of exceptional fruit. Simple really is best with summer fruit. I used your recipe many times this summer with some tweaks: I used a variety of berries and stone fruits depending on what I had on hand, swapped out the ginger for thyme and lime zest, and scaled the topping up to 133% as I found that it wasn’t quite enough crumble for me the first time around. Thanks for sharing a great recipe.


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Elissa Bernstein

I'm Elissa: a 17 (now 21) year old baker in Seattle Boston juggling creative nonfiction workshops, subway maps, and my passions for writing, baking, and photography. Photo above © Michelle Moore

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