By April Robson, as told to Kate Paddison
April Robson is a Tofino, B.C.-based yoga instructor, mom to daughter Waverly and self-proclaimed “jammer,” teaching how to preserve local fruits and vegetables and how to make yogurt at local reskilling festivals. Her recipe for berry crumble with homemade yogurt is very dear to her heart: Robson’s mother died when she was 11 years old, but fond memories of her mom’s berry crumble help Robson feel close to her again.
My mom used this recipe for berry crumble and homemade yogurt quite often in her kitchen. It’s a recipe so familiar to me I don’t really even think about it when I’m making it myself; it kind of comes through naturally. I love this recipe because it can be made in all seasons, all across the country. There is no special berry; you can use the wild berries from your yard or you can use frozen berries. You can make this for everyday or a special occasion, plus it travels well for a potluck. It’s an easy go-to recipe—warm and homey.
My mom was diagnosed with leukemia when she was 42 years old. It came on very suddenly, and within a year of her being diagnosed, she passed.
I can remember her essence. I remember her in the kitchen, teaching me to cook, preparing certain dishes, such as this one. And now, I feel really attached to the things I had in my childhood, specifically cooking, because it’s a way for me to connect with her.
I grew up not far from Tofino on a float house, which is a home on a dock. We were right on the ocean and my parents owned an oyster farm. We ate a lot of seafood—clams, fish, crab—and a lot of fresh greens because my mom had a garden on the dock. We were essentially a mini floating homestead that relied on solar power and lived completely off the grid.
We did a lot of our own things, such as harvesting wild food, plus what my mother had grown on the dock. We also had chickens. There was no running water, so we had to haul up our own or use rainwater. My family’s favourite restaurant in my town at the time was one we went to only a couple of times a year because we had so much already available to us.
As a kid, I fought to get out of that life. I wanted to get away and have a normal yard and running water and a bathtub. Now, I’ve spent my whole adult life trying to get back to those roots, which is why I really enjoy baking and foraging. In the summer, we have four kinds of berries in the front yard, and it’s extremely easy to go around and pick them.
My mom and dad taught me how to provide for my family, how to make healthy homemade meals from the earth. The way our planet is going, it’s really important for our children to be connected to our food, the land and the environment. It’s all supported by each other, and if we don’t take care of our food system now, we won’t have it for very long. It’s important to me that my kids have the same feeling about a healthy relationship with their food and their environment.
See more: Watch Lynn, April and baby Waverly make this berry crumble at home.
Wild Berry Crumble with Homemade Yogurt, courtesy of April Robson
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Yields: about 6 servings
Wild Berry Crumble
1 cup (250 mL) flour
1 cup (250 mL) packed dark brown or Demerara sugar
½ cup (125 mL) salted butter (if you prefer unsalted butter, add 1 tsp/5 mL salt to flour mixture), cubed
1 tsp (5 mL) cinnamon or other desired spices (optional)
4 cups (1 L) berries and/or sliced fruit (any assortment of berries or seasonal fruit, such as apples, pears or stone fruits, will work great)
juice of ? lemon
Homemade Greek-Style Yogurt
4 cups (1 L) 10% or 18% cream or table cream
1 pkg yogurt culture or 3 oz (85 g) plain Greek yogurt (if using store-bought yogurt as a starter, scrape off surface layer and use yogurt underneath; it will likely have a higher concentration of healthy bacteria)
Wild Berry Crumble
1. In bowl, mix together flour and brown sugar. Stir in cinnamon, if using.
2. Using pastry blender or 2 knives, roughly cut in butter into flour mixture. Using hands, further incorporate butter until mixture is well moistened.
3. Add lemon juice to berry mixture, tossing to coat. (If using especially juicy or frozen fruit, toss with 1 tbsp/15 mL flour to prevent runniness.)
4. Add berry mixture to baking dish; spread flour mixture evenly over top. Bake in 375°F (190°C) oven for 45 to 60 minutes or until topping is evenly browned and filling is bubbling up around sides.
Homemade Greek-Style Yogurt
1. Boil water in large nonreactive pot for 10 minutes to sterilize; discard water. Set pot aside to cool for 5 minutes.
2. Pour cream into pot over medium-low heat; cook until just before boiling point. (Heat should be low enough that cream doesn’t scald while being hot enough to raise temperature.) Do not stir cream. Remove from heat.
3. Allow cream to cool until you can comfortably hold pot without burning hands, when temperature reaches about 110°F to 115°F (43°C to 46°C). (This can take a few hours, but if you add yogurt culture to cream while it’s still too hot, it will curdle and yogurt won’t set.)
4. Using ladle, scoop a bit of cream into small bowl; add yogurt culture and mix until well combined. If skin has formed on top of cream, remove with fork and discard. (Remember to sterilize all utensils in boiling water before using.)
5. Add yogurt culture mixture to pan; stir well but gently as to not create foam.
6. Pour inoculated cream into 2 sterilized 2-cup (500 mL) canning jars; place in warm environment, such as yogurt maker or bread proofer for 8 for 10 hours or until yogurt is firm. Keep at about 110°F (43°C)—or as close to it as possible—the entire time.
7. Set on counter until room temperature.
8. Refrigerate until chilled. Serve with Wild Berry Crumble.
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