‘Round and round the mulberry bush’ goes the 19th Century Nursery Rhyme.The song and associated game is traditional, and has parallels in Scandinavia and in the Netherlands (the bush is a juniper in Scandinavia) perhaps an updated version might be a Juniper bush in the UK given the popularity of gin!
These small trees were first brought to Britain during the 17th Century in the hope that their leaves could be used in the cultivation of silkworms. Their succulent tart and sweet black berries are rarely seen in shops as the fruit is too delicate to transport, as i can testify to whilst picking them, scenes reminiscent of a horror film as their bright red juice quickly covers you.
Different types of Mulberry exist such as white (used for Silkworms), red (native to North America’s Eastern coast) and black (native to Asia) Mulberry trees. Typically they are short trees that perhaps resemble a bush, they can take as long as 8-9 years to bear fruit. This year is the first that we have had an abundant crop having planted the trees some 12 years ago, so i thought i would try to make something with them.
The main picking season is between August and September. Gather mulberries by shaking branches over a sheet spread on the ground, but wear gloves to avoid the fruit staining your hands or as i did, pick them and get covered in juice.
Mulberries work well as a substitute to blackberries and raspberries in many recipes. They make excellent ices, fools and summer puddings, as well as jellies and jams.
(For the Dough)
240g Caster Sugar
1tsp Baking powder
720g plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
zest of a lemon
240g cold butter (diced)
2tbsp lemon juice
(For the Berries)
80g Caster Sugar for the Mulberries
Preheat the oven to 190 Celsius
Line a baking tray with baking paper and butter well
Place the flour, zest, baking powder, sugar and salt into a bowl and add the cold butter. mixed well with finger until crumbly.
Add half of the crumble mix to the baking try, press with a fork and bake for 10 minutes
Meanwhile add the additional sugar and lemon juice to the washed mulberries.
Remove the base from the oven and spoon the berries on top
Add the remaining crumble/dough mixture
Bake for a further 30 minutes or until browned.
Allow to cool completely before cutting into slices