Monday, April 11, 2011

Childhood Classics - Apple Crumble

Another fairly universal favourite, a dessert I love very much, and yet very rarely order on the dessert menu: apple crumble. I (almost) never order it because it's so easy to make at home, and have been stung a few too many times by floury cafe crumbles lacking in flavour and/or texture. Do feel free to share your secrets on where to get a good one - but in the meantime, I whipped up a crumble last week so you can check out and critique my method as well. ;-)

One of many great things about crumble as a dessert is that it is super flexible - you can change the fruit for whatever you feel like - apple and rhubarb was common for us growing up; feijoas make a frequent appearance; stone fruits do spectacularly well - and indeed the fruit doesn't even have to be fresh - you can stew it when it's abundant and then chuck the crumbly part on top and bake when the trees stop yielding fruit. Though I have had some fantastic variations I tend to prefer the purist apple version when making my own - and granny smiths are the best!

The ingredient list is pretty simple - apples (or other fruit), lots of sugar and butter, some flour, spices, and the this-is-optional-but-really-lifts-it-up extra - lemon zest. I don't make mine with oats, though again, I've had some wonderful oaty versions.

I chop up the apples - I really like slices, so that each spoonful is a piece of apple with a teeny bit of bite left - not crunchy, but not mush - and throw in a little water (they'll leak a fair bit on their own but the juices in the bottom of the pan are delicious poured over the top once you've dished up), brown sugar, the lemon zest and some cinnamon. Depending on your tastes and the type of fruit you're using you can vary the flavours - flexibility in every step! - and if you're using stewed fruit don't bother with any extra liquid.

For the topping, throw everything in a bowl (or food processor, to make life super easy) and rub it all together. Grating the butter speeds up the rubbing in, though it does make the amount of butter going in look pretty scary. Yikes!

And then just throw the crumble on top of the fruit in an oven-proof dish and bake until golden brown and hopefully bubbling promising-looking syrupy fruit juice up around the sides. Best served with ice-cream (I think) though cream, milk and yoghurt all work too - or you can have it as-is.  

Do you prefer your crumble with or without oats? What do you think is the best fruit or fruit combo to have under that buttery goodness?

Apple Crumble
4 large apples - I prefer granny smith
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1 tsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp water
1 cup brown sugar 
1 cup flour
1 Tbsp cinnamon
150g butter, grated

Preheat oven to 180 C. Slice the apples, removing core, and place in ovenproof dish. Add sugar, cinnamon and lemon zest and toss together to combine. Add lemon juice and water and ensure the apples are evenly spread in the dish.

Rub together topping ingredients until well combined then use to cover the apples. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown on top and the apples, when speared, are cooked. Serve piping hot, topped with vanilla ice-cream.


  1. Ooooh yum. I like a little bit of shredded coconut added to the crumble. And it always has to be served with cream or custard (or, um, both) for me. Apple is definitely the standard, although rhubarb and apple, or apricot is yum too. Delish!

  2. Yum! Crumble is my favourite winter pudding. Plain apple is fine with me but I do love a mix of apple and feijoa. I added oats and sometimes walnuts or almonds too. At the moment I have a big jar of crumble mix in the fridge so all I have to do is chop up some fruit!

  3. i LOVE apple crumble and next time i am going to grate my butter - i think this is an amazing idea.
    I don't put oats in i put cornflakes or a couple of crumbled weetbix for a different texture which is a recipe my gran gave me years ago. Now i want dessert!

  4. Kaz, coconut sounds scrummy. I love coconut! Custard is good, too - but I gotta have my ice-cream. ;-)

    Libby, if I thought I could have a jar of premade crumble in my fridge and not eat crumble every single night, and possibly every morning for breakfast too, I would definitely do that. ;-)

    Sandra, I can't quite imagine cornflakes or weetbix but handed down recipes are great - the little tweaks that get built in over time ensure that - so I'm sure it's delicious. :-)

  5. I like to grate my apples with the skin on as I think it gives a fruit flavour. My favourite pudding at the moment is this banana butterscotch one from Bill Granger. Easy and yum.

  6. I put oats in, sometimes coconut, sometimes cornflakes! Often I put ginger in too - especially if it's a rhubarb crumble.

  7. I always peel the apples and grate the butter.I love a mixture of apples and apricots/rhubarb/dark plums.However nuts would ruin it for me,especially walnuts,and I usually like using rolled oats.I also add some custard powder to the fruit if it has been stewed.
    I like reading others preferences and tips.

  8. Ooooh, I love crumble too! (And in answer to your question - no oats is preferable).

    My ex's Mum used to make a scrummy rhubarb & boysenberry crumble, it was amazing.

  9. I LOVE crumble, and I often experiment with the topping and the fruit. Love oats, ground almonds, have added squares of choc (esp if berries in the fruit) it's yum! I like wholemeal flour too, adds to the texture. Fav fruit combo at the moment is pear and boysenberry. Also love Annabel Langebein's trick of putting a bit of cornflour/caster sugar over the fruit to thicken juices. YUM!

  10. Stef, yum to the banana butterscotch! I have to admit mostly I'm not a fan of banana, but there are exceptions, and combining it with caramel or butterscotch is definitely one of those. :-)

    Sarah, ginger sounds great - ooh, what about ginger and pear crumble? I think that would have to have oats in the topping...

    Cheryl, custard powder is another great tip I will have to add to my list. I never would have thought of that!

    Kate, my mouth is watering just thinking of that - rhubarb and boysenberry, yum...

    Rachel, ooh, chocolate, you're opening another realm there. I love berry/chocolate combos. I love the juices the way they come when I'm using apples but can imagine the deliciousness of the thickened syrup with berries or apricots, mmm, jammy. ;-)

  11. banana caramel sounds nice .. i made banana date sticky pudding with butterstotch sauce , recipe from jo seagers book .... its divine and so easy.
    Sticky banana and date pudding with butterscotch sauce. Serves 8 - 12 depending on the portion size

    1 cup chopped pitted dates; 1 tsp baking soda; 100gms butter; 3/4 cup caster sugar; 2 eggs; 1 tsp vanilla; 1 1/4 cups self raising flour; 2-3 bananas sliced.
    1. Preheat oven to 180*. Spray a 22-23cm square cake tin and then line with baking paper
    2.Place the dates in a small saucepan or microwave bowl with 1 cup hot water. Bring to the boil, then add the baking soda. Stir well and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
    3. In the meantime, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy and pale. Add the eggs, vanilla and flour then beat in the dates and their liquid. Mix in the banana slices then pour the batter into prepared tin. Bake for 40-45 minutes.
    Serve with butterscotch sauce poured over, and ice cream or whipped cream.

    For the sauce
    1 cup brown sugar; 100gms butter; 1 cup cream.
    Place all in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until it comes to a good boil. Boil for 1 minute, then pour over the pudding.( can do sauce in the microwave for 1 minute on high and it is lovely)


Theme Design by Quentin de Manson Web Design