JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Apple crumble

Apple crumble is, by my standards, is a pretty indulgent pudding - especially if you add custard. I know that it's got lots of fruit, which is always a good start, but crumble is really a form of sweet pastry: butter, flour, sugar.

Years and years ago, at a Boxing Day family gathering, my sister-in-law Clare opened my eyes to the possibility that crumble doesn't have to be that good-but-unexciting white sugar / white flour combination. Hers used soft brown sugar and, I think, nuts. I remember she said it was Delia, but I can't find anything in the Complete Cookery Course that chimes with my memory.

Apple crumble is Alfred's favourite pudding. I've tried a few times to make something truly heart-friendly, and each time he's given me a kind but withering look that spells failure. So I decided that I'd keep the fat (Flora, as butter is completely off limits), but add in other ingredients which would mean less Flora was required, and also help me feel that I'd balanced things out a little. So ... ground almonds to keep down the Flora, and oats because they'd add texture and the goodness of a superfood. Also dark brown sugar.

I was really pleased with this: the nuts and oats meant that I could cut down the Flora, the dark sugar gave fantastic taste, the little bit of plain flour lightened it. The apples came from the garden, so I didn't spice them, although they'd have been good with cloves, or cinnamon, or nutmeg. It was DELICIOUS. Alfred looked encouraged, took one mouthful and said: couldn't you have used white sugar? Another mouthful: it's nice, but I like the school one better. Okay, I can't claim total success for Alfred, but at least I didn't get the withering look.

On the other hand, Lucius and I both thought it was wonderful.

Nutty apple crumble, for 6

6-10 apples (depending on size and condition)
100g muscovado sugar
100g rolled oats
100g ground almonds
50g plain flour

Peel, core and slice eating apples to half fill a small deep dish. Sprinkle them with a little granulated sugar (more if you are using cooking apples, but Bramleys, the most widely available, cook to a fluff).

Measure the muscovado, oats, almonds and flour into the food processor bowl. Give it a quick pulse to make the oats a little smaller. Then add Flora. A conventional recipe would probably use 100g, but you're aiming to use less. I think I probably used about 50g. I added it spoon by spoon, pulsing each time, and stopped with the mixture began to clump.

When you've got it right, spread the mixture over your apples, and bake in a moderate oven, 190C, for half an hour. I then kept this warm in a low oven, 80C, for a further half an hour. If I had known there was going to be a delay over supper, I probably would have cooked it at about 120C for the full hour ... crumbles are pretty forgiving.

Try it ... Alfred is not a reliable guide here. I found myself reflecting that there was a time when I was satisfied with crumble made with white flour and white sugar ... this really is a much better alternative. I'm sure Alfred will one day agree!


Figs, Bay, Wine said...

How wonderful Joanna! I've got a huge heap of apples from apple picking the other day, and I've been meaning to make a crumble. Can't wait to try yours - it sounds absolutely delicious. In fact, I wish I had some for breakfast right now!

Anonymous said...

Great, Joanna, always a pleasure to read about such quests.

Anonymous said...

This is great Joanna! I always make my crumbles with oats, nuts and brown sugar these days and the regular white sugar versions always seem a bit bland and dull in comparison

Clare said...

Thanks for remembering Joanna! Actually, I use soft brown sugar and home-made muesli to cut down on the flour.