Sunday, 16 October 2011

Elderberry and damson crumble - Where has all the time gone?


 I’m actually scared how fast time goes by. Autumn snuck up so quickly and winter is doing much the same. It’s bloody dark in the morning for Pete’s sake. I’ve really not made the most of the damson season that is drawing rapidly to a close as I write. I had the best intentions of making damson vodka, damson fragipane… Guess I’ll have to shelf those ideas till next year. I hope they aren’t too dusty in there. Chatting to one of my oldest chums at the weekend we were in such astonishment that we hadn’t seen each other in two months that she checked her diary. Sure enough, we hadn’t seen each other. All that time had gone by and what had I done? Eat, sleep, work, moan, holiday, hoover, kiss, walk, cook, natter, laugh…


My Mum forwarded me Steve Jobs' commencement speech to Stanford University in 2005 and these words resonated greatly with me, “remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only is what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

I guess our time is so precious here on this “pale blue dot”. Death and change really are the only constants. I’m going to make the effort to be more aware of my time and then maybe I wont miss the damson season next year (and might actually do something useful with my evening).

This is a lovely little treat of a recipe. I’ve kept the crumble topping simple, almost like shortbread, to really show off the flavour of the fruit and berries. Elderberries are also a great way to get into foraging as they are easy to recognise and hugely common.

Damson and elderberry crumble with a bit of vanilla ice cream

Elderberry and Damson crumble – serves 4 – 6
Oven preheated to 180°C

For the fruit filling -
600g damsons
100g elderberries (about 10 heads of berries)
70g caster sugar

For the crumble topping -
100g plain flour
40g caster sugar
50g butter (at room temperature)

De-stone the damsons if you so wish.
Add the damsons, elderberries, sugar and a splash of water to a pan over a moderate heat.
Whilst the fruit is cooking make the crumble mix by rubbing the flour and butter together until you get an even, sandy texture.
Add the sugar to the flour and butter mixture and stir.
Stir occasionally till the damsons are soft.
Once the fruit has cooked add more sugar to taste as required.
Add the fruit mixture to an ovenproof dish and add the crumble topping to the top of it and gently pat down.
Cook for 15 – 20 minutes until light golden brown.
Serve with ice cream or crème fraiche.



  1. I really love that speech and I haven't heard it since I was in highschool, it is nice to relate myself to your life and if it isn't much to say I love your easy and delicious looking crumble

  2. This is such a powerful speech and one we should all take a little to heart - it's so important to remember what really matters in life and follow our dreams.

    Your crumble looks delicious and perfect as the long nights (and dark mornings) draw in.

  3. i'm liking those words. here's to quality time, and to being brave enough to make the most of it.

    your crumble looks lovely

  4. hmmmm.... He's always such a leader... Such passion to strive forward and break the walls...

  5. What a delicious looking crumble and words to remember.

  6. Lovely post, Ruth and the crumble looks wonderful. I remember listening to his speech last year, it is so inspiring and life affirming.