This pudding came about a bit by accident, when I had the remains of a can of cheap bitter kicking about in the fridge door from a Beer and Sultana Bread, and some frozen berries defrosted in a dish in the fridge that needed using up. Rather than drink half a flat beer and pick at squishy berries, I decided to make something out of them. And this, the result, is delicious. If you have brown sugar, do use it, as the deep treacley taste it brings is something else. If you don’t, then white sugar will do just fine. Fresh berries can be expensive – look in the freezer department of the supermarket for a frozen mix for a fraction of the price! I’ve added apples to mine, but this is also delicious with plums to bulk it out instead. I happily devour this on its own, or served with cream, custard or ice cream – or straight from the dish!

Serves 4:

2 large apples
400g frozen or fresh berries
200ml bitter
100g sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for the berries
200g plain flour
100g butter (or 50g butter and 50g lard)
100g oats

Preheat the oven to 180C, and get out a deep ovenproof dish, around 20cm in diameter, to cook the crumble in.

Roughly chop the apples, discarding the cores, and toss into a medium sized saucepan. Tip the berries into the pan, pour the bitter over the top, add the tablespoon of sugar and bring to the boil, watching carefully as beer can get a bit excitable when heated, depending on how old it is! Once the beer comes to the boil, reduce the pan to a simmer, and leave for 10 minutes. If using fresh berries, simmer anyway to soften them.

Tip the flour and sugar into a large mixing bowl. Dice the butter – or butter and lard if using – into cubes and rub together with the flour and sugar until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the oats and set to one side.

Remove the beery berries and apples from the heat and, using a slotted spoon, transfer the fruit into the ovenproof dish. Starting from the outside edges to prevent soggy corners, spoon the crumble topping onto the berries evenly until it’s all used up.

Pop the crumble into the oven for 30 minutes, or until the top is golden and crisp. Allow to stand for a few minutes before serving.

Tip: Any leftover beery berry juice works well as a sauce to serve with meat. Cook onions and a beef stock cube in it for a delicious gravy.

Beery Berry Crumble, from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe. Published by Michael Joseph at Penguin, available to order at The Hive, supporting your local independent book store. Also available at most major book stores and supermarkets.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe. Facebook:

Photography by Susan Bell:


  1. Fresh berries are expensive in supermarkets, but in summer cheaper in street markets – but cheapest of all of course is to pick blackberries from the hedgerows. In many built up places where there were once orchards you also get plums, pears and apples – for free 😊

  2. I’ll try this in the autumn when blackberries are free and apples are cheaper – looking forward to it.

  3. mmm….never thought of adding bitter or beer to a fruit dish but then I prefer wine and don’t leave many dregs!….nice one Jack….and Im sure it will work with wine too!

  4. This is one of my favorite desserts from your cookbook, Jack. We’ve had it several times and always crave more! Next time we need to have it with ice cream!

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