Crumble is such an autumnal dessert, I always think – warm and comforting, the perfect antidote to the rainy day blues. I made this the other evening for my housemates when we were sharing a meal as we often do – which is a beautiful and very sociable thing by the way, try it with whoever you live with if you don’t cook/bake together already – and it went down pretty well, especially paired with some ice cream. I didn’t make my own ice cream this time I’m afraid; life has significantly increased in tempo recently – which is great, and I’m so enjoying being busy again! – but means shortcuts to cooking and baking are usually necessary sacrifices.
I picked up some blackberries in the reduced section (99p!) that were perfect, but weren’t going to stay that way for very long, and then my housemate brought out some sorely neglected apples from her room that were slightly past their best, but still definitely usable to cook with. I suddenly remembered I had a little bag of leftover crumble mix from a few weeks ago in the freezer and bob’s your uncle, we had a crumble (that almost rhymes). You can use a huge variety of different fruits in a crumble, I think I like a hard fruit – like apples, pears, or rhubarb – put together with a soft fruit like berries, plums or maybe apricots best. Experiment; use your favourites/the forlorn-looking ones in the fruit bowl. Even if you don’t have crumble mix frozen (if you don’t, make extra now and then you’ll have leftovers to freeze for next time), this is probably the quickest pudding you can make to round off a lovely stew, casserole, roast dinner or any equally substantial, cold-weather meal.
For the crumble topping:
- plain flour
- butter (if using proper butter, unsalted, cubed and at room temp)
- brown sugar
- rolled oats (like you use for porridge)
**I haven’t included measurements here – if you want them ask ANYONE, or the internet I suppose, and they’ll have the proportions – I tend to do it by sight now because its a very forgiving recipe and depends on the size of your crumble, which depends on what dish you have and how much fruit you’ve bought. Basically, if the mix is too wet in the first stage; add more flour, too dry; rub in more butter. Oats and sugar are optional (but its a bit boring without, to be honest) and the quantity is to your liking really. Other things you might want to add to the topping could include raisins/sultanas, crystallized ginger, fudge or toffee pieces, dried apricots…endless possibilities! Anyway, back to the recipe:
For the fruit filling:
- a couple of handfuls of blackberries
- 3 or 4 medium sized apples, preferably crunchy rather than soft or mushy
Step 1: Rub the flour and sugar together between your fingertips until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.
Step 2: Combine the basic mix with soft brown sugar and oats, and then add any other exciting embellishments you think will take your crumble to the next level.
Step 3: Core and dice the apples (you can peel them if you like but the skin is where all the flavour is!) and cover the bottom of your dish with them. Scatter over the blackberries, then pour the crumble topping over the whole lot, getting into all the corners and covering all the fruit. If your fruit isn’t pre-cooked or very soft, add a tablespoon or so of water to the fruit before topping with the crumble mix, and if it is very sharp, sprinkle extra brown sugar on.
*As I had a ready-made bag of mix rather than making it to fit the crumble, there wasn’t quite enough to cover the fruit as much as I normally like to; however, the general consensus was that less crumble mix made the pudding lighter and not stodgy which was a good thing after a filling hot dinner.
Step 4: Pop the assembled crumble into an oven heated to around 180C/Gas Mark 4 for 25-30 minutes. The topping should be golden brown, and the fruit cooked through but not too mushy so that it holds its shape and has a bit of texture. Serve warm with ice cream, custard, cream, toffee sauce, golden syrup…or just plain if you’re not a pudding glutton. Lovely.
Sources: None really! As I said this one was mostly off the top of my head but crumble recipes are the easiest things in the world to find and remember or adjust. Thanks to our honorary housemate who bought the cute dishes shown in the photograph as a housewarming present for us all! X