I spend as much of my August as I can on Gabriola Island in British Colombia, Canada. My mum is now retired and lives their full time in the house that my dad built for her. We spend much of our time swimming int he ocean, walking through the forest and picking blackberries. So, prepare yourself for the annual onslaught of blackberry recipes. Before I go any further, I would like to thank our neighbors Darla and Steve for the use of their camp as photo studio this summer AND last summer. The light, the plants, the variety of natural surfaces, the fact that I could wander over there in my pajamas…I am so grateful.
Usually the blackberries on Gabriola are ripe by mid August. It varies a bit. The year of my wedding was really rainy (except for our wedding weekend). We barely got blackberries by August 20th for the wedding cake. This year though, there is a serious drought. By the time I arrived on August 9th the blackberries were baking on the vine. The whole island smells like blackberry pie! Luckily, my mum lives on the more forested Northern part of the island so we were able to get about 13 cups of berries for me to make desserts and a few batches of our favourite Blackberry Ginger Gin Cocktail.
I made this tart for my mother’s birthday and we ate it after a delicious sunset meal out at the excellent local spot Surf Lodge. We can walk to the Surf Lodge through the forest from my mum’s house. No one has paid me to praise Surf Lodge. The sunset view, the walk through the forest, the lack of a need for designated driver, memories of playing pool there with my dad when we was alive… all of it makes me want the Surf Lodge to prosper. In my opinion, the new management has got the right idea. The food and the service were excellent!
Mum wanted her birthday dessert to use some delicious local apples apples that she had (in addition to the blackberries that picked) and she cannot eat gluten, eggs or dairy so the crust is gluten-free and vegan. A few days before mum’s birthday, I had eaten some blackberries that were growing on the beach and they were pleasantly salted, so I tried to recreate the effect by putting a little more salt than usual in the almond crust. The crust is VERY tender, but the fruit topping is firm so it works out. The crust uses coconut oil, so if you chill the tart, the crust will firm up a bit.
ALMOND CRUST (GLUTEN-FREE AND VEGAN)
- 2/3 cup almond meal
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted and still warm, plus a bit for the pan
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 2/3 cup brown or white rice flour
- 3 Tablespoons potato starch
- 2 Tablespoon tapioca flour
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Grease an 11 inch tart pan with some coconut oil.
- In a medium bowl, combine almond meal, sugar, melted coconut oil, vanilla, and salt.
- Add the brown rice flour, potato starch and tapioca starch and mix until combined.
- Turn out dough into the prepared tart pan and press it evenly into the sides, and across the bottom, so that there are no cracks. Place tart pan onto the baking sheet in the oven for 5 minutes to pre-bake.
BLACKBERRY APPLE FILLING
- 1/4 cup cornstarch (divided)
- 2 cups fresh blackberries
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- a little over 1 pound of apples (you should have nearly 4 cups sliced)
- 1 teaspoon dry ground ginger
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar or demerara
- Dissolve 2 Tablespoons cornstarch in 2 Tablespoons of water in a small bowl and set aside.
- Combine blackberries and granulated sugar in a large heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until sugar dissolves and juices are released (4 minutes).
- Stir in cornstarch mixture and bring to a boil, then remove it from the heat.
- Transfer the mixture to a bowl and allow it to cool for 30 minutes. In the meanwhile you can peel and thinly slice the apples. Toss the apples with the remaining 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch, the dry ginger and the demerara sugar.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Pour the black berry filling into the tart shell and spread it out. Arrange the apple slices in an attractive way on top of the blackberry filling. I start with overlapping slices around the outside edge and then make concentric overlapping circles within that. Bake for 40 minutes. Allow it to cool totally before slicing. The crust will be very crumbly unless you chill it in the fridge.
MORE GLUTEN-FREE BLACKBERRY AND APPLE RECIPES…