Every year, Tygh and I watch the coming and going of blackberry season here in Seattle with a little bit of awe. Nearly everywhere you look - along freeways, backyards, park perimeters, shopping malls - there are these indigenous blackberry plants which, for a few weeks every summer, offer up the most amazing, sweet, juicy blackberries. And, every year, while gazing sadly at $8 containers of the hard black nuggets you so often find at the grocery, Tygh and I say how we are going to go pick those goddam things and, like, eat 'em all.
But, we never do. Shit just happens and we actually consider paying the $8, knowing we'll be adding two cups of sugar to those berries to make 'em edible.
But, this year, on a cloudy, cool Sunday morning (actually, on the date of our *gasp* 12th wedding anniversary) we rounded up our littles, got some big plastic containers, and finally went urban foraging for blackberries.
In our excitement, we picked a lot. It took all of about 30 minutes, but suddenly we had about 6 pounds of fruit (and a ruined pair of my favorite jean shorts because Harvey feels like I'm his walking towel).
Back at home, we decided to eat a bunch, freeze some and bake with the rest. June and I did a ton of blackberry baking experiments (blackberry souffle, anyone?), but two of our favorites kept resurfacing: Blackberry Crumble Muffins and Blackberry Breakfast Bars. These are super recipes that pack huge fruit and grain punch. You can easily swap in raspberries or blueberries (or any mixture thereof), if that's what you have. But, if you live in the PNW during July and August, and you can take the time to stop and pick the berries, you won't be sorry.
Blackberry Crumble Muffins
I recommend lining your muffin tins for these - they have so much fruit they are a little on the fragile side. I love baking these in parchment cups - they look so nice that way. You just fill each cup 3/4 of the way, place on a cookie sheet, and bake. Try these, if you don't already have a favorite.
Makes 10 large muffins, 16-18 regular sized.
1 C AP flour
1 C Spelt flour
1 C white sugar
2.5 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 stick butter, melted
2 large eggs
1 Cup whole milk
12 oz blackberries.
Mix together, until nice and crumbly:
1 stick butter, melted
½ C AP flour
½ cup oats
¾ C brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
Oven at 400*.
Mix dry ingredients, reserving ¼ cup. Toss this with blackberries to coat. Mix wet ingredients. Add to dry, mixing until just combined. Gently toss in blackberries. Fill muffin cups ¾ full. Top with crumble. Bake 15 min at 400F, then turn down to 375F for last 10 minutes (total 25 minutes – may need to cover with foil at the end to avoid over browning), until you can smell them and tester comes out clean.
*Note oven temp change half-way through cooking.
Adapted from Serious Eats.
Blackberry Breakfast Bars
These are a wholesome riff on traditional berry crumb bars - which tend to have a shortbread base and topping - and are loaded with whole grain and fruit. Great for breakfast or afternoon tea :).
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup spelt flour (can use AP or more whole wheat, too)
1/2 cup toasted unsweetened flaked coconut (optional)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ tsp cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cold, grated with box grater (can substitute coconut oil, if desired)
10-12 oz blackberries, raspberries or both, adding more or less depending on how fruity you want them!
1 T Lemon juice
1-2 T cornstarch (depending on how juicy your fruit; juicier add more)
1-4 T sugar, depending on sweetness of fruit
Oven at 350. Grease 9 x 13 pan. Mix together all dry ingredients. Add cold grated butter, using hands to mix in until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Spread about 2/3 of mixture into bottom of prepared pan.
Cook berries with lemon juice, cornstarch and sugar, over medium heat, mashing a bit and letting bubble gently, about 4-5 minutes or until consistency of thick jam. Taste to adjust for sugar. Add more if needed. Let cool a bit.
Spoon berry mixture over base. Crumble up remaining base over the top. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, until fruit is bubbling and you can smell it!