Thursday, 11 December 2008

Apple crumble

AP and I have had some apple crumble at a couple of restaurants here in Vancouver but have not found them much to our liking. Apple crumbles tend to be quite oaty here; most recipes that I've seen on Canadian or American sources tend to list oats as an ingredient, which is quite uncommon in the UK. Neither of us are keen on the taste and texture of oats in our crumbles. With the onset of winter, home cooked comfort food like baked apple crumble served with warm custard really hits the spot. So I had to roll up my sleeves (literally) and make one in order to get the kind of crumble that we like.

Making crumble topping is dead easy if you have a food processor. Just pop in all the ingredients and pulse until the mixture resemble fine breadcrumbs. Well, I don't have a food processor, however much I would like one (not wanting to shell out so much money to buy something that I would only use for less than 2 years, given I can't ship it on to Singapore with the difference in electricity voltage). But making crumble by hand is pretty easy too. Not as convenient as a food processor in that you actually have to get your hands 'dirty' in handling the flour and butter, but definitely not difficult. So don't be intimidated and give it a go. Believe me, it's definitely much better than packets of prepared crumble topping (and I've tried those too!).

Apple crumble 1

Things to bear in mind: Make sure you use proper blocks of butter, not the spreadable stuff from a tub. A crumble mixture requires the fat to remain cold in order to bind the flour and sugar into breadcrumbs-like texture and spreadable butter or margarine melts too quickly. This requirement for the butter to remain cold also means one should work the mixture quickly and rub with your fingertips lightly to avoid melting the butter too much.

Cooking apples are great for crumbles and pies as the cooking process and addition of sugar caramelises and sweetens apples that are too tart for eating as is. Granny Smith and Bramley apples are particularly good as their tartness help to balance the richess of the crumble topping. You can also use a mix of cooking and eating apples for a mix of different flavours, or add a handful of blackberries to the apple mixture.

Apple crumble 2

Ingredients (serves 4):

Topping:
150g or 1 1/4 cup plain flour
85g or 3/4 cup brown or demerara sugar
100g butter, room temperature and cut into small cubes

Apple mixture:
3-4 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
25g or 1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp plain flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon

1. Preheat the oven to 400F/gas 6. To make the crumble topping, place the flour, demerara sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl. Using the tips of your fingers, rub the butter into the flour and sugar, mixing it all evenly. You want to rub the butter into smaller and smaller pieces while coating them in flour and sugar (which stops the pieces from sticking to your fingers). When done, the mixture should resemble breadcrumbs. (Alternatively, place the above ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the mixture resemble breadcrumbs and there are no large pieces of butter. Be careful not to overwork the mixture.) Set aside in a cool spot.
2. Grease 4 large ramekins or a pie dish. Mix the slices apples, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon in a large bowl and place at them at the bottom of the baking dish(es).
3. Top with the crumble mixture and bake in the middle of the oven for 45-50 minutes until the top is golden and slightly crunchy. Serve with warm custard if desired.

Apple crumble with warm custard

I only wanted to make apple crumble for AP and myself and didn't want to use a whole large pie dish with leftovers. So these were made in 2 individual dishes (like large ramekins, about 4.5 to 5 inches across) with half of the above ingredients. I still made the full amount of crumble topping though. I used half and stored the other half in an airtight container in the fridge. As long as the mixture stays cold (remember the butter?) it should be fine in the fridge for a week. This meant I had ready-made crumble topping for dessert again later in the week, and all I had to do was slice up some apples. Yummy.

11 comments:

VeggieGirl said...

Positively marvelous & scrumptious!!

didally said...

Yummy, I love it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Thanks for the idea of making extra crumbles to store in the fridge!

mycookinghut said...

I love apple crumble. Always can't get enough of it. Good dessert.

gnoegnoe said...

Good idea! I just got some organic golden rennets :) But -- and it's probably a stupid question -- how do you make hot custard?

Zoe said...

me.wants.some.too....

kokostiletto said...

i love apple pie/crumble!!!! they have the best apple pie at granville and 71st! i am so going to try this!

Nilmandra said...

Veggiegirl: Thanks!

Didally: I was pleased to find that works, since I made too much crumble topping for 2 of us and it's always more efficient to make a larger batch. I'm glad they keep well in the fridge!

My Cooking Hut: I love them with warm custard when it's cold, and ice cream when it's hot :)

Gnoegnoe: You can look up recipes on google to make custard from scratch, but I must confess I just use Bird's brand custard powder (add milk and whisk over low heat). It's pretty easy. Or buy a ready made one from the supermarket or deli (usually near yogurts and diary products).

Zoe: Invite me to your house when I'm back and we can make one together ;)

Kokostiletto: Please do, it's really not difficult :)

monchichi said...

Hi, ChowTimes linked to your blog so I had a look and really like it! Just wondering in amazement how you manage to make these bentos almost daily, when I can't even come up with any suggestions for sandwiches (even from the counter). Anyhow, if it's OK with you, could I link to your blog from mine?

DiamondVVV1 said...

I love apple crumble, thanks for the recipe.

Nilmandra said...

Monchichi: Sure, thanks for the link :) Oh believe me, I have been stuck undecided at the sandwich counter too, heh. And there are days when I run out of ideas or feel really uninspired for bento!

DiamonVVV1: You're welcome!

Anonymous said...

I used less than the prescribed sugar quantity for the crumble, but it still came out super sweet. I would suggest to half the quantity of sugar, but besides that beautiful dessert

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