November has been unseasonably mild so far. I was walking the dogs in a T-shirt on Wednesday, and was still too hot. There are still wasps about (I’m allergic to their stings, so I have a paranoid eye for them). And best of all, the autumn raspberries are showing no signs of quitting. At this rate we’ll be having them on Christmas Day.
I already have enough jam to last me a decade and the new-fangled freezer is flashing me alarming displays that something is wrong – but not what is wrong. It seems the only way to find out is to pay for an expensive engineer to come and tut at it, and probably tell me that ‘this is a known problem with this model’. So I don’t want to risk freezing them, in case of sudden freezer death
The upshot is, I’m eating and cooking with fresh raspberries like they’re going out of fashion, which is hardly onerous, but does require a bit of variation to prevent the onset of raspberry ennui. It’s also allowed me to resort to one of may all time favourite puddings – both stupidly simple and inherently British. It’s from Elizabeth David, like so many good things, you can find the original in her Summer Cooking. It’s just a raspberry crumble, although for some strange reason, she insists it’s a shortbread. Are you allowed to disagree with Elizabeth David? I’ve got a feeling it could be against the rules? But whatever it’s called, it’s fantastic. I’ve metricated her recipe for 21st century purposes. Raspberries are definitely a northern thing, which is why the best raspberries are grown in Scotland. And hot fruit puddings are an undeniably British speciality. So the first time I made this for the Sicilian, it was an eye opener. He slowly declared it ‘de-li-cious’ (insert Italian accent). So, thank you Elizabeth David for your shortbread not crumble.
450g fresh raspberries
170g plain flour
100g soft brown sugar*
50g butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon baking powder
She ‘strews’ her raspberries with “a little white sugar,” in their pie dish. I like this, it implies the need for a flourish, even on a humble crumble
To make the ‘shortbread’, mix the butter and flour together til it’s a slightly chunky, breadcrumby texture
Add the sugar, ginger and baking powder and mix everything up thoroughly.
Cover your raspberries, but don’t firm it down.
Bake at Gas mark 4/180 C for 20-25 mins.
The raspberries intensify in flavour, they become quite heavenly. Eat it with cream, or ice cream, to top off its rib-sticking joy. I’ve also used chopped up stein ginger in the crumble – but I really, really like ginger – so don’t feel obliged to follow my whim.
*She calls is moist brown sugar, but I know people who are physically repelled by that word, so for their sake, I’m playing fast and loose with language