This delicious dessert was contributed by Andrea Hagan who helped with the testing of Sara Moulton Cooks at Home. A native Seattleite, Andrea was 11 years old when she toured England as a member of the Northwest Girls Choir. Choir members bunked with local citizens in the towns they visited and in Shrewsbury her host served raspberry crumble with boiled custard. “It was the greatest dessert that I had ever tasted and the first fruit dessert that I ever liked,” she recalled. She brought the recipe back to Seattle with her, substituted the wild blackberries that grow near her home, and it continues to be a success. “Everybody I’ve ever made this for loves it,” she says. “It’s uncanny how good these flavors are together—and it’s so easy to make.” The recipe works equally well using blackberries, raspberries, blueberries or a mixture.
Vanilla Sauce (recipe follows), optional
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon table salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
6 cups fresh or frozen blackberries, raspberries, or blueberries, preferably wild, picked over and rinsed
If using Vanilla Sauce, prepare at least 3 hours before serving.
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Butter a shallow 2-quart baking dish.
Combine the sugar, flour, and salt in a large bowl. With your fingertips or a pastry blender, mix the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse meal.
Place the berries in the baking dish. Grab some of the crumble topping in your hand and squeeze together. Gently crumble all the topping evenly over the berries.
Bake until the berries are bubbling and the top is golden, 30 to 40 minutes. Meanwhile, make the Vanilla Sauce Serve the crumble hot with the Vanilla Sauce.
Vanilla Sauce: Combine 2 cups whole milk and 1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise, in a small saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat until small bubbles form around the edge. Remove from the heat, cover, and infuse the milk for 10 minutes. Scrape the seeds of the bean into the milk. Whisk 5 large egg yolks with 1/3 cup sugar and 1/8 teaspoon table salt in a large heatproof bowl until thick and light, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the hot milk. Return the custard to the pan and stir over low heat until slightly thickened or until a finger drawn across a wooden spoon dipped in the sauce leaves a mark (about 160ºF). Do not boil, or the sauce will curdle. Strain into a large bowl and cool to room temperature, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 2 hours.