Blackberries ripen at the threshold between summer and autumn, when the days are still hot, but slip easily into a chill when the sun sets. It’s these days, that we surrender our icy popsicles and sorbets for something warmer: like a blackberry crisp spiced with cinnamon and cloves and sweetened by the very lightest touch of maple. Served hot out of the oven, and drizzled with fresh cream.
In late summer, we gather berries from the unruly briars that line parks and paths across the Pacific Northwest. The brambles smell sweet and of rich wine, as those berries unlucky enough to miss someone’s basket, ripen, fall to the ground and ferment. You can find some berries as thick as your thumb, still warm from the sun, sticky sweet and brimming with red juice that stains your fingers. These berries, so marvelously ripe that they nearly burst when you touch them, are perfect for baking. They don’t need to hold their form in a crisp, like they do when you eat them out of hand. Instead, they release their juice in the gentle heat of the oven and soften beautifully.
Working with Whole Grain Flours
Organic dark rye flour gives the topping on this crisp a round complexness, and a bold richness that all-purpose flour misses. Whole grains are, by definition, less refined than white flours, but it’s precisely their humble and honest rustic nature that gives them their charm, their flavor and their nutrition. When the bran and germ of grains are sifted away, they lose their character. And you lose out on the magic of real flavor. Whole grain flours have a rougher texture, and that works particularly well in this blackberry crisp where it gives the dessert its characteristic crumbly crunch.
In this blackberry crisp, the richness of dark rye and rolled oats blends beautifully with the warm woodsiness of maple and the fragrant spice of cinnamon and cloves. Together, they marry well with the sweet, but acidic brightness of fresh, ripe blackberries.
Maple Rye Blackberry Crisp
For the Blackberry Filling
- 8 cups blackberries
- 1/4 cup dark rye flour
- 2 tablespoons Grade A dark maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons bourbon
- Heat the oven to 350 F.
- Dump the blackberries in a bowl. Spoon 1/4 cup dark rye flour over the berries, and then drizzle maple syrup and bourbon over them. Gently stir the berries to incorporate the flour until they're lightly coated, taking care not to smash them. Arrange the berries in a 9" x 13" baking dish.
- In a separate bowl, add 3/4 cup dark rye flour, cloves, cinnamon, salt, maple sugar, rolled oats and 1/2 cup softened butter. Work the ingredients together with your hands until they form a crumbly, stick dough.
- Sprinkle the prepared blackberries with the the dough, and then drop the remaining two tablespoons of butter over the topping. Bake for 45 minutes.
- Serve warm.
Video Recipe: How to Make Maple Rye Blackberry Crisp
Where to Find Organic Dark Grain Rye
Rye is a heritage grain that is traditionally used in baking and cooking throughout Europe. Dark rye flour is a whole-grain flour with a muted grey-brown color, and a rich and toasty aroma. We used Organic Dark Rye Flour by Bob’s Red Mill, which is as an employee-owned company dedicated to whole, natural foods like grains and pulses.
How to Make the Most of Summer Berries
Strawberries are the first to arrive in early summer, followed quickly by raspberries and blueberries. Blackberries arrive at the very end of summer, right at the brink of autumn.
Raspberry Popsicles are naturally sweetened with honey and made no-drip with the addition of gelatin.
Fermented Mixed Berries are easy to make, and are ready in just a day or two,
Summer Berry and Oat Cobbler is perfect for breakfast.
Blackberry Switchel is a pleasant, easy sweet-tart drink.
Blackberry Mint Popsicles blends maple-sweetened berries with the mint-infused cream.