21 September 2009

Recipe for Autumnal Apple Crumble

Recipe for Autumnal Apple Crumble

I love the melancholic atmosphere of this late summer time.  The leaves are beginning to turn a beautiful orangey-red and the air is turning cooler, yet it has a warm, damp smell to it. 

Then if you are a lazy gardener like me, the apple trees have miraculously done all the hard work for you and the trees are covered in beautiful ripe apples.  I enjoy just going out into the back of our garden, looking at the cows in the field and munching on a perfectly ripe apple; these have the sweetness of summer coupled with the softness of silk, with none of that bitterness and tough bite of shop bought apples, which makes your gums tingle and hurt.

So it just had to be homely crumble as pudding with our Sunday roast this weekend. 

We have 2 types of cooking apples in the garden, so I mixed up the apples and stewed them gently in a dark muscovado sugar, some Fairtrade organic mixed spice of ours and a dash of orange juice (it gives it some citrusy taste while stopping the apples from turning brown as you peel and cut the others, plus it’s much less harsh than using lemon which some people suggest).

Also, when I make the crumble, I quite like adding extra flavours to it (which I am not going to include in the recipe), so this weekend I added some ground almonds and othertimes I have added some crushed digestive biscuits or mixed the flour types up, for example using wholewheat flour gives the crumble more of a chewiness than crunchiness.

This is all part of my cooking style.  It is good to start with the basic recipe idea, but then to gently adjust it to create a much greater depth of flavour or to change the texture.  It adds a certain mysterious quality that means your crumble will never quite be repeated by anyone else, or by you ever again. 

I suppose it’s all about making home cooking – real amateur cookery – unique and the antithesis of industrial food, which is all about keeping the same taste over gazillions of meals that are being bashed out by machines or cooks; industrial food has to be very simple and easily repetitive and have an unchanged taste whatever the quality of the ingredients, i.e. no tweaking for flavour.  It’s food of the lowest common denominator.

Here’s my attempt at recreating what I made.


For the fruit:

750g cooking apples

50g Fairtrade muscovado sugar (or more to taste)

1tbsp orange juice

50g raisins

1tsp Fairtrade mixed spice

1 Fairtrade cinnamon stick

For the crumble:

175g plain flour

75g butter

75g Fairtrade caster sugar

1tsp Fairtrade cinnamon powder

  1. Put on the oven to about 180oC.
  2. Peel and chop up the apples into slices.  Bung these into a large heavy-bottomed pan with the butter, Fairtrade dark & sultry muscovado sugar, Fairtrade mixed spice, Fairtrade cinnamon stick and orange juice.  Cover and cook gently until just tender, making sure that you do not overcook it as this just results in a stewed mush.  Mix in the raisins and remove the cinnamon quill.  Put all of these into the bottom of a medium-sized ovenproof dish.
  3. For the crumble, sift the flour into a ceramic mixing bowl and add the cinnamon powder, mixing them together.  Chop up the butter into cubes and then drop these into the flour.  Now rub the butter into the flour (using clean fingers please) until the mixture has the consistency of breadcrumbs.  Stir in the caster sugar and rub together.  Cover the top of the apple base thoroughly and smooth over.
  4. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes until golden brown and the inside is bubbling hot.  Serve with custard – sorry, it’s just got to be custard.