Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Lets Get Ready to Crumble!!

'And what exactly am I supposed to do with these?' says the flat mate to his mother. When in amongst the moving-in gift that was a parental care pack that consisted of enough food to re-nourish a small village, a bag of apples is discovered. In the days that followed and once all the biscuits and cheese had been taken, we'd say to each other the odd time, 'we should make like, a pie with them or something.' But that was said in the same hypothetical context as when you turn to your mate at the end of a long night and say something along the lines of, 'You and me dude, driving across South America in a Reliant Robin. I'm tellin' ya man, this summer for sure.' In other words, nice idea but the when the effort involved was considered, not likely to happen.

A week later and the damn things were still there. We knew that is was now or never. There was talk of pie and tart tatin, but both of these involved pastry and the act of proper baking occurring would totally mess with our homestead's chi. As would anything as energetic as walking the whole two minutes to the store for the pre-made frozen variety. [Note: I will never feel or be made to feel guilty about buying store-bought puff or filo pastry. If you disagree then I can only hope that one day you look up beyond your domestic fortress to the world outside.] Not to mention looking completely out of place in the fridge. The vibrant and healthy green clashing unpleasantly against the family pack of bacon and the amber hue of the communal rum bottle.  

'What about an apple crumble?' I said, half-hearted. Pause as this suggestion was considered. 'Do it.' was the answer. Now I'm not sure what you folks outside the British Isles know of crumble [currently this blog has been viewed from USA, Canada, Japan, Australia and Libya. International-five!] But it's kind of a big deal over here. Crumble is one of those desserts that nearly every mother, regardless of overall culinary ability, is able to produce. It's one of those dishes that everyone has experienced numerous times throughout growing up, be it at family gatherings or just Sunday dinner. Heston talks about dishes that evoke memory and in turn emotion. How a simple plate of food can transport you into a time and place within the mental back-catalogue of experiences, most brilliantly shown in that scene from Ratatouille. For me this is one of those dishes, one that resonates to something deeper. A mark from a certain time with certain people, punctuated by having a big dish of this in the middle of the table. 15 - 20 years later, me and my flat mate scooped piles of the stuff onto our plates and I took my first bite. Although the recipe was all my own it didn't matter because it was still an apple crumble. I ate, I smiled, I remembered.

I kinda misjudged the quantity here, as you can see. So unless you want to construct your own great barrier reefer (what we Christened the tinfoil divide that was devised by my flat mate, props!) and feed more then two people, you'll probably need to double the amounts here.

Crumble Topping

Plain Flour: 100g
Castor Sugar: 100g
Butter, cold: 100g
Ground Cinnamon: 1tsp

Apple Base
Granny Smith or Golden Delicious Apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/8 wedges: 6
Castor Sugar: 100g approx
Whole Cloves: 3
Star Anise: 1
Ground Cinnamon: 1tbsp
  1. Make the crumble mix by putting all ingredients into a food processor and blitz until resembles breadcrumbs, about 30 seconds or so. Place in fridge until needed.
  2. For the apple base start by putting the putting the sugar and about 50ml of water into a pan large enough to hold all the apples. Melt on a high heat and allow to turn to a caramel, should take about 5 - 10 minutes. During this try to move the pan as little as possible, only at the end when the edges start to discolour should you really start moving it around. This allows it to colour evenly.
  3. Throw in the apples and spices, leave for a moment before stirring. This is to allow the juices in the apples to come out, which then dissolves the caramel so you don't spend your time scraping lumps of solid sugar around the pan.
  4. Add around 200mls of water and cook on a medium heat for about 15 minutes, or until tender when poked with a knife. Ideally the water should be evaporated by the time the apples have cooked.
  5. [Here's where a controversy took place. I'd originally intended to keep the apples whole, but then my flatmate came over and asked if this was when I was going to start, 'mashing them up'. 'Well I was going to keep them whole.' 'Really. . . .in a crumble?' he said with that look of a 10 year old that's just been told that Christmas is cancelled and instead will be spent cleaning the verrucas on Aunt Nora's feet. 'Okay I'll blitz 1/4.' 'Nah, dude, do 'em all.' 'What about half and half?' 'Eh. . . .' 'Okay fine, 1/4 whole, 3/4 pureed.' 'Yea, alright.' he relented. But in retrospect, why did I even bother to negotiate? If I'd said tough shit, what was he going to do? Slam the door to his room and pull a strop the next time it was his turn to get milk?] So anyway, remove 1/2 - 3/4 of the apples, place into a food processor and blitz to a puree, sweeten if necessary.
  6. Spread the puree on a suitable try or dish, place the remaining wedges on top, followed by the crumble mix.
  7. Bake at 190 C for about 10 - 15 minutes, or until the top has gone a golden brown.
  8. Remove from oven and let stand for a few minutes. Spoon out and serve with either whipped cream or ice cream. Or however you remember having it when life just seemed that little bit simpler.

Do you have any memories of crumble growing up? If not, what was the pudding that you always looked forward to your mother making? Have you tried making your own version since?

1 comment:

  1. 'Hot' Apple Crumble- 3 apples - large granny smiths,1 lemon and orange zest , sprinkle 1/2 tsp mace and 2 tbsp apple juice, topping;100g flour, 50g butter ,2 tsp cayenne pepper,50g hard cheese,1 tbsp crushed roasted hazelnuts. Serve with crème fraiche. Upsets a lot of people this- but you have fun watching their faces go thru the hot sour thing. I didn't have a fav pudding 'cos I was a greedy little gobs****. Would like your crumble with custard pls.