This is a very simple dessert, but it’s amazing how often people get it wrong. I believe it’s all to do with the crumble topping. The truth is that there’s no point in stinting on the ingredients. A low-fat crumble tastes just that – a poor imitation – you’re not fooling anyone here.
Crumble is definitely not an everyday event. It deserves to be a rare and special-occasion treat.
Also, please remember that it’s not at all sophisticated – it’s meant to be the epitome of home cooking, so the more rustic it looks, the better. ( in other words, just chuck it all together.. 😉 )
- for variations, please see the NOTES below..*
That’s why when I make it, I jump right in there and go the whole hog – butter and sugar in the ingredients, and cream, custard or ice-cream to accompany – bring it on!
Here’s how I do it:
- Large saucepan to cook the apples
- Food processor (not essential)
- Serving dish – either an oval deep pie-dish, or a 3-inch deep, 12′ square lasagne-type dish.
For the filling:
- 6 Bramley apples, peeled, cored and cut into large chunks.
- 250 g fresh or frozen raspberries
- 2oz golden caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon.
For the Crumble:
- 6oz plain flour
- 4oz cold butter, cut into small cubes
- 3oz demerara sugar
- 2oz rolled oats
- zest of a large orange (optional, but Mr Saturday Night thinks it essential!)
- Put the peeled apples, caster sugar and cinnamon into your chosen serving dish, add a splash of water, then cook on a really gentle heat until the apples are tender but still hold their shape. (about 25 minutes)
- Transfer to the serving dish and allow to cool a little (you can do this bit ahead and store the cooked apple in a covered dish in the fridge for a day if you like) just bring it to room temperature before cooking, if you can..
- Sprinkle the uncooked raspberries evenly over the slightly cooled apples. Don’t bother to stir them in – just leave them there on top of the apple.
- Make the crumble: mix the flour and cubed butter together until it resembles rough bread crumbs (the food processor does this in seconds, but of course you can just rub it in by hand too)
- Fold in the Demerara sugar
- Fold in the Orange zest
- Fold in the rolled oats.
- Put the dish onto a baking sheet
- Sprinkle the crumble generously and evenly over the entire fruit mixture.
- Don’t bother patting it down – just leave it where it falls.
- Cook at 160 for 45-55 minutes.
- The crumble should be a beautiful golden colour, with bits of the fruit bubbling through around the edges.
- It will be really hot at this stage, so give it 10 minutes before serving – this will give you a chance to get the cream/ice-cream/custard gathered up!
- Naturally, the ingredients can be varied to reflect the seasons – another of my favourites is apple and plum crumble – just cut the stoned plums into quarters and add to the apples for the last 5 minutes of gentle cooking as above. I like fruit to retain its shape, hence the shorter cooking time for the plums. Some cinnamon and vanilla extract add to the flavour.
- August 2018: My new seasonal flavour is Apple and Blackberry – the Blackberries are in the hedges at this time of year, so pick them, use them, and possibly freeze a handful for deep mid-winter!
- Rhubarb Crumble – possibly my favourite of all – use about 400g Rhubarb chopped – just cook it gently in the oven for about 30 minutes before topping with the crumble mixture and make the crumble – you can add a little dried ginger if you like, and I tend to keep the orange zest in, as it definitely adds a certain something to the dish.