Cosy Crumble

Halloween has been and gone. Guy Fawkes’ Night is almost upon us. Christmas is just around the corner. Comfort food season has truly arrived.

When it comes to comfort food, some of the best dishes, whilst simple, take a long time cooking. That’s fine- gives you time to get on with Christmas card lists and catching up on Downton. However, I work pretty much full time, I’m surprisingly lazy, and I want my comfort food done quick. When it comes to main meals, that often means reheating portions, or pasta for me. When it comes to dessert, it means crumble.

You can’t go wrong with an apple crumble- they’re universally popular and extremely versatile. Autumn is apple season, but they are readily available all year round and as such are a kitchen staple, as are the rest of the ingredients in this simple but delicious pudding. Frankly, anyone who doesn’t like crumble is probably a cyborg, anyway, and as such should be cut from your social circle.

Here’s how I make a dessert in minutes, that goes in the oven to cook as soon as the main meal is out. Apologies for imperial measurements- this is how I was taught to make crumble by my mum, and it’s how I remember it.

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Cosy Crumble

  • 4oz Butter, cold
  • 4oz Caster sugar
  • 4oz Plain flour, plus an additional 1-2oz as required
  • 1tsp Cinnamon
  • 5 Eating apples (I used Braeburns. You can use cooking apples, but you will probably only need four, and you may wish to add additional sugar
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 4oz Sultanas
  • Demerara Sugar and a further scant tsp Cinnamon to finish

 

Preheat the oven to 180c, or use a hot oven following cooking a main meal.

Rub the butter, caster sugar and flour together with your fingertips to form a crumbling crumb. If the mix is too soft and wet, add the additional flour an ounce at a time and try to crumble it again. Once the mix is working, don’t be too pedantic about crumb size. You don’t want to overwork the mixture, and I like the rustic look.

Next, peel and core your apples. Chop into bite size pieces- about 12 chunks per apple. Place the apple in your ovenproof dish, and acidulate as you go with the lemon juice.

Scatter over the sultanas, a good pinch of Demerata sugar and some cinnamon (a scant 1/2 tsp should suffice), and briefly mix the contents together. Try to even out the top a little.

Pour over the crumble topping in a thick layer, and sprinkle with another hefty pinch of Demerara and another scant 1/2 tsp of cinnamon to finish.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top is crisp and slightly caramelised. Serve with lashings of custard, cream or ice cream, and scoff greedily.

 

If you really HATE sultanas, of course you can omit them. However, they plump up beautifully, and add a beautiful depth of flavour, and amber jewel tone quality to the dessert.

Go make this. RIGHT NOW.

Love and cuddles!

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Mincemeat Crumble : Recipe Advent Calendar 19th

I love a good crumble. My mother taught me how to make it when I was younger. As she worked full time when I was growing up (and she worked bloody hard: the woman is my hero) we didn’t often get homemade desserts. But when we did, they were always splendid. And they were often Apple Crumble.

Over the years I’ve enjoyed many a Crumble, and many a Plumble, but the warming and charming simplicity of this dessert never goes out of fashion. I could eat it all day long and not get bored.

Apples are often a primary component of mincemeat, and since mincemeat is basically fruit and spice they go exceedingly well together. Pears also love all that spice, and the hint of almond in the crust of my festive addition to the repertoire.

This recipe can be easily doubled, quadrupled etc for bigger crowds, and reheats fairly well. It is, however, best enjoyed fresh from the oven with a glug of double cream.

Mincemeat Crumble

Serves 2

  • 60g Butter, cold and cubed
  • 60g Caster sugar
  • 60g Plain flour
  • 30g Ground almonds
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 apples or pears (eating, cooking, either will work)
  • 4 hearty tbsp mincemeat
  • A little demerara sugar

To make the crumble, put all the dry ingredients and the butter into a mixing bowl, and rub together into a fine crumb. The odd lump or bump never hurt anyone, so try not to over rub the mixture.

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For your filling, peel and core your fruit, and roughly chop into bite size chunks. You shouldn’t need to add any sugar to this, but if you are using exclusively Bramley apples, sprinkle over a couple of pinches of brown sugar when you add them to the pie dish.

Pop your fruit into a shallow oven proof dish, and dollop your mincemeat in. I prefer to have it arranged throughout the dish, rather than mixed through, but either works.

Spread the crumble topping into an even crust over the filling, and sprinkle the demerara all over. Pop into a preheated oven at 180-190 c and bake for 20-35 minutes until the crumb is golden and crisp.

Why not try this beauty with either the Cranberry Mincemeat or Traditional Mincemeat recipes from earlier in the advent calendar?

Later Days!

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Crumble; Two ways

Autumn is a wonderful time of the year. Yes, the weather is abysmal and never knows if it’s coming or going, making it nigh impossible to dress adequately, nor to sort your wardrobe for the coming week, let alone the season. Yes, it’s dark out more and more, and yes, all the light, fluffy, cooling dream desserts of summer are now truly out of season. However, the night air smells like woodsmoke and crisp coldness, and there’s the promise of magic on the chilling wind. The trees become a raucous chorus of colour, matched only by the splashing golds and reds of fireworks. Now is the season for being warm inside, literally and emotionally. Now is the season of spooks and ghouls and All Hallows. Now is the season for a well earned extra hour in bed, now the clocks have gone back.

I find Autumn terribly romantic in its own way. Even breath can be seen in the air, and everyone wants to be a little closer to the nearest source of warmth, whether that’s the hearth and fire, or someone bundled up in heavy layers as thick as their own. Men put on their fitted coats, and instantly become more attractive, well at least to me. We express our fashion now not through bangles and baubles and printed tees, but kitchly matched knitwear, gloves, boots, tights. Yeah, we’re probably going to get rained on, but we’ll look fabulous doing it. There’s a reason so many Hollywood romances are shot in the cooler months, you know.

Meanwhile, it the kitchen, the time of stodge has arrived. It’s bloody nippy out, and we all need something hearty to power our internal furnace. We’re also in the season of harvest, and though now it is November most of the best british fruit, particularly soft, is passed, we still have apples fresh. If your larder is anything like mine, it’s stuffed to the gills with ingredients crying out for cinnamon and spice and all things nice, and what better way to celebrate the season, warm up and finish a delicious hearty meal, than with a crumble?

My mother, who is a wonderful cook, taught me how to make crumble a few years ago, and really, there’s no art to it- it is sinfully simple and good eating. I think everyone has their favourite way of doing things, no doubt passed to them by their granny or parent or favourite cookbook. Some are advocates of the bramley and spoonfuls of sugar, some of eating apples, some of mixing in blackberries, and some, like me, rather fond of a few plums. I’ve baked all of the above, played with fillings and spices, but this is the basic crumble I make to top them all.

Mum’s Crumble

  • 4oz/115g plain flour
  • 4oz/115g butter, cold (not margarine for this one)
  • 4oz/115g caster sugar
  • 1tsp cinnamon

Add all the ingredients to a bowl and rub together with your fingers to form a crumbly texture. Add more flour if the mixture seems too doughy until the preferred consistency is reached. Try not to overwork the crumble if you can.

The amount of fruit you will need will depend on the size of your overproof dish. 4-6 regular sized apples or 3 bramleys usually suffices, or two punnets of plums, or three tins of peaches… the choice is yours. Bake at 180 for 30-35 minutes, and voíla.

My last crumble was a mixed fruit concoction I threw together for the afore mentioned Jo; peaches, mixed berries and plums. Scrumptious.

The title does claim that I’m here to show you crumble; two ways, and it’s not wrong. A couple of weeks ago I made a batch of cupcakes for my friend Mat. He requested something fruity, so I decided to ‘cupcake-ify’ one of my favourite desserts, and this is what I came up with.

Cheeky Plumble Cupcakes

Makes 12

For the cakes:

  • 120g butter or baking margarine
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 120g self raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 2 free range eggs
  • Plum jam at room temperature

For the topping:

  • 250g icing sugar
  • 75g butter or baking margarine
  • 1tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • baked crumble crumb

Preheat your own to 180-200 degrees. This will depend on your oven, as they all behave differently. Line a muffin pan with cake cases.

Cream the butter and the sugar together until fluffy.

Beat in the eggs one at a time until mixture is uniform.

Mix in the flour and spices until you have a uniform, well aerated creamy batter.

Divide the mixture between the cases.

If your jam is quite well jellied, beat it a little until it becomes more syrupy. Dollop half a teaspoon or so into the middle of each case full of batter.

Bake the cupcakes for 18-25 minutes until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Sit in pan for a few minutes before setting out to cool on a wire rack.

Once your cakes are cooked, bake your crumble for 5-10 minutes in the hot oven.

While your cakes are cooling, make your buttercream; sift your icing sugar and spice together.

Beat the icing sugar with the butter with an electric whisk or processor, adding the vanilla while the beaters are moving. You want to achieve a uniform, smooth buttercream; not too firm so that it won’t pipe or spread easily, but not too loose, so that it will run and melt. Add water a teaspoon at a time to achieve the correct consistency if required.

Spread or pipe on the cooled cupcakes as desired, and finish with a generous sprinkling of crumble. Enjoy as a dessert, or with a cup of tea. My preference would be a milky chai- delicious.

Photoset is available on tumblr. Enjoy!