Seasonal Recipes: Blackberry Slump


I don’t usually make desserts, so this season’s blackberry glut has been a challenge for me. I’m not a fan of sugary-sweet “treats”, and blackberries require a fair bit of sugar to bring out their flavor. I’m also suspicious of most dessert recipes, which often taste too sweet for my liking. Is this an American thing? Has our reliance on corn syrup acted as a kind of “sugar heroine”, forcing us to use even more sugar in our recipes to obtain the intended effect? Case in point: I recently made a rhubarb pie from a recipe at The recipe came with 4.5 stars and loads of great reviews, but my friends and I in London all agreed with the result: it was so sugary that we couldn’t even taste the rhubarb. Such a shame! I definitely don’t want my blackberries to share the same fate.

That’s when I came across this recipe for Blackberry Slump, what BBC Food calls “an American version of a blackberry cobbler”. I’m not exactly sure what makes this an “American version”, because it isn’t made with the usual flour-based cobbler top. Instead, the pastry is made with polenta, a very coarse corn meal, and toasted hazelnuts, both of which give the cobbler a wonderful texture. Think cornbread soaked up with sweet delicious berry juice.

And what about those berries? Guess what – not too sweet! This recipe uses mainly peaches and their juice to sweeten the blackberries. The fruits compliment each other well without turning into one contiguous mass of fruit mush – both the peaches and the blackberries retained their unique delicious flavors. I cooked these as individual portions in my new little ramekins. They freeze well this way and can be easily reheated in the oven.

Lightroom-2.jpgThe only thing I change from the original recipe is the ratio of cobbler to fruit. The BBC Recipe results in a one-to-one cobbler to fruit ratio. I prefer more fruit, so am providing the recipe here with only half the cobbler topping. Of course, you could always double the fruit instead and have plenty of leftovers for later. =)

The ultimate way to eat this dessert is with vanilla ice cream. Mmm. Vegans in the audience, I’d be curious to know how a vegan cobbler top would work, replacing the butter with oil and the milk with soy milk. Any takers?

Blackberry Slump

The original recipe on BBC Food uses twice as much cobbler topping. I thought this was too much so halved the amount here. Feel free to adjust the proportions of both to suit your tastes!


550g blackberries
411g can peach slices in fruit juice drained and 5 tbsp juice reserved
2 tbsp caster sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp lemon juice


75g polenta
88g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
13g butter plus extra for greasing
1 tbsp caster sugar
25g hazelnuts skinned, toasted and chopped
100ml milk

  1. Heat oven to 375F/190C/fan 170C/gas 5. Lightly butter a 1.7 litre ovenproof shallow dish. Spread blackberries and drained peach slices in the bottom of the dish. Mix together the caster sugar and cinnamon, then sprinkle over the top and pour over the lemon juice and the reserved juice from the peaches. Bake, uncovered, for 10 mins until the juices begin to run. Remove the dish from the oven and set aside.
  2. To make the topping, sift the polenta, flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt into a bowl. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture is the consistency of breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and toasted nuts and mix well, then stir in the milk to make a soft, sticky dough.
  3. Increase oven temperature to 430F/220C/fan 200C/gas 7. Drop spoonfuls of the dough over the top of the berries, then return to the oven for 15 mins until the topping is golden brown. Serve hot with cream, custard or ice cream.

7 thoughts on “Seasonal Recipes: Blackberry Slump

  1. Sally Parrott Ashbrook

    Monica, I can’t even TELL you how envious I am that you are in the midst of a bountiful season of one of my favorite foods when I have had less than 2 cups of blackberries from my local sources this year! (And I shared those two cups–aren’t I generous??)

  2. monica

    Sally, you should come to London – picking blackberries is a lot easier with two people! I need worker bees! You’d get to keep some, of course. =)

  3. tokaiangel

    As well as changing the milk for soy milk, you could easily switch the butter for soy marg or any other non-dairy marg instead of oil and it would work a treat for vegans. My usual crumble topping tastes exactly the same veganified, and that’s what I normally do. Like the idea of using polenta. I’ll have to get out in the country this weekend and see if I can find any blackberries, I love em! Thanks for sharing the recipe and pictures!

    TA x

  4. Crabby McSlacker

    That looks and sounds fantastic!

    However, I’m one of those Americans who likes desserts that contain tart fruits to be really, really sweet to compensate.

    It’s like I’ve got the tastebuds of a five year old. But I’d rather indulge less often and have it every bit as sweet as I want rather than still get 90% of the sugar and feel vaguely cheated.

  5. monica

    @tokaiangel: what’s the story with that non-dairy margarine stuff? does it contain any weird unnatural ingredients or hydrogenated fats? definitely get your hand on some blackberries. or any berries or fruits. the polenta topping is great!

    @crabby: i know what you mean about tart fruits. that’s why i like to pair tart fruits with really sweet fruits like peaches, mango or pineapple. i like your philosophy and it doesn’t just go for sweets. I’d rather have less of something that tastes good (like cheese) rather than loads of some weird substitution (weird reduced-fat cheese). Quality, not quantity, right?


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