“There is no such thing as too much crumble” said my Dad, as he finished off his second portion of crumble. It reminds me of the old joke by Mitch Hedberg, “You would never see an Escalator Temporarily Out Of Order” sign, just “Escalator Temporarily Stairs” – and it holds true.
If I was served a bowl full of crumble topping with no fruit, it would probably be one of the most satisfying dishes in history – but I digress…
This pudding has history. It’s certainly the first dessert that I can remember looking forward to when I was growing up, picturing the crunchy, sweet crumble mixing with soft apple in my mind’s mouth. Well fast forward more than two decades, and here we are…and the essence is the same. I just added a little whiskey. And more crumble.
This is another dish which I hope you will try out when you have people over to share – it’s eye-catching and fun, but still has the flavours of the traditional crumble which you remember from your childhood. Plus it has a little reminder of another hobby of mine (drinking whiskey).
If you’re not a boozer, don’t worry – you can leave the bourbon out altogether, or replace it with a tablespoon or two of lemon curd for a delightfully citrusey kick.Also, if you don’t happen to have any stainless steel food rings in your house then you can of course make this in a regular oven-safe dish or bowl.
The ingredients and recipe are for six individual portions, but you may find that you have some apple left over. If you do then save it and either make it into apple sauce (an excuse for a roast!) or add a spoonfull of greek yoghurt for a healthy breakfast or light snack.
Classic apple crumble, arranged for maximum crunch
- Cooking apples - 900g
- White sugar - 25g
- Water - 4 tbsp
- Lemon juice - 2 tbsp
- Bourbon whiskey - 75ml
- Brown sugar - 150g
- Butter - 200g (Unsalted)
- Almond - 30g (Ground)
- Flour - 300g (Plain)
- First you're going to prepare your filling. Cut up your apples into small pieces and put them in a pan with the sugar, lemon juice and 4 tablespoons of water. Oh, and the whiskey! Never forget the whiskey.
- Heat at around 50% heat for around 10 minutes to soften the apples, turning them into almost a puree. Depending on the type of apple you use the necessary time will vary – but I like my filling to be nice and soft. If you like your apple to have a bit more firmness, then just cook them for 7-8 minutes instead.
- Remove from the heat and leave to cool. You may like to add a touch more whiskey at this point just to give it an edge...but don't turn it into a smoothie! Leave your filling to cool while you make the crumble top and bottom.
- Ok for the crumble top and bottom, the first thing you need to do is mix the flour, sugar and crushed almonds.
- You're going to rub the butter in to the dry mixture, a little bit at a time (that's why you've cut the butter up into little cubes). Taking a few cubes at a time gently rub the butter and the dry mixture between your fingers and let it fall into the bowl. Now keep doing this again and again until the butter is all mixed in and the whole bowlful looks like chunky breadcrumbs. Note - if you have a food processor or a food mixer then this whole process can be done using that, in about 60 seconds. Just pile the lot on and turn it on...but I always like to have a backup plan in case there is a powercut
- Ok so next you want to get a baking tray and some stainless steel cooking rings. You might not think you have any but have a look in the drawer - you might have some from years ago when you wanted to put your rice into little circles. Rub a little butter onto a baking tray to grease it and put the metal rings onto the tray (you might also want to grease the inside of the rings too). If you don't have any of these steel rings then you can use small pots (ramekins), but you won't be able to turn them out onto plates (but you'll still have little delicious individual apple crumbles, so it's not all bad news)
- Start by covering the bottom of each ring with some crumble mix, up to around 10mm. As you're making a base you want to compress it slightly, so press it down using the end of a rolling pin
- Next add your filling, leaving around 10mm for topping. Add more crumble on top of the filling and pat down so that it's level with the top of the metal ring
- Cook in the centre of a preheated oven (180c/355f) for 20 minutes. I will always check on them after 10 minutes to see that they're not cooking too quickly on the top, but you can't go too far wrong in this length of time. When they're nicely brown on top they're ready to eat
- Remove from the oven and leave to stand for 2 minutes. This gives them a chance to cool down a little and become firm, so they don't crumble when you take the rings off. Next slip a thin knife down the edge of the ring and carefully make sure there's nothing sticking to it...then gradually pull it off
- Serve with creme fraiche, cream, custard, mascarpone...or all four