Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Crisp Apple Crumble - Tailor Made For Everyone!

Apple Crumble

Look at me, am excited about a crumble! I hope you don't remember exactly how many times I have declared that you may never see a crumble or crisp here. What's not to like in these desserts you may wonder. For one, I don't quite like the texture or sweet-sour taste of overcooked fruit. And then the crumble bit. Is it as crisp as it is meant to be? Crumble veterans will want to throttle me for over-dramatizing, I just may just not have got it right so far. Hope you will still humor me?

If a crumble is new to you, its typically fresh fruit like apples, pears, berries and the kind tossed in sugar, butter, vanilla etc, piled into a baking dish. On top of this filling goes the crumble topping - mostly flour, chilled or melted butter and sugar made along the lines of a pie crust. The crumble is then baked till the fruit is all bubbly and the top is golden and crisp. Apparently works great for many, but then you know there are folks like me as well!

Tempted by pumpkins, apples and warm spices, contemplating another go at a crumble, I came across this recipe. The fruit and the topping are cooked separately, then put together later. The answer sometimes is very obvious, but it takes a Raymond Blanc to hold it to your face. Am so glad!

While this may not be the conventional way of making a crumble, you will find it perfect to make for people with varied tastes. Just the right amount of fruit you want, cooked just right. The topping baked until nice and crisp, just the right amount of it sitting on the warm fruit. Top it with ice cream or whipped cream and you have your crumble, just the way you want it. And your spouse, kids, neighbors and guests can have it just the way, they want it! 

Apple Walnut Crumble - Based on this recipe from BBC Good Food - Serves 6


For the crumble topping 

Flour - 120 grams 
Vanilla sugar - 60 grams ( I process the sugar)
Unsalted butter, cubed and then chilled - 60 grams
Vanilla bean - 1 
Cinnamon - 1/2 teaspoon (optional)
Walnuts, toasted and chopped coarsely - 2-3 tablespoons

For the apple filling. This is just a rough guide, please go by your taste and preference. 

400 grams peeled and cored apples ( I used Red Delicious)
Brown sugar - 3 tablespoons
Unsalted butter - 2 tablespoons
Cinnamon - 1/2 teaspoon
Water - 2-3 tablespoons (or water plus rum or orange juice) 
Vanilla - 1/2 bean scraped
1/2 teaspoon cornflour

Vanilla ice cream or softly whipped cinnamon cream to serve

  • To make the topping : Sift the flour and sugar. Rub the vanilla caviar into this. Cut the chilled butter into the flour mixture till it resembles bread crumbs. It will seem dryish, but do not add any liquid. 
  • Be sure you cut in the butter well enough so that there isn't any dry flour visible in the mixture.  I like doing this on my kitchen counter, using my metal dough scraper. You may find a food processor handy here. 
  • Do not over work the dough or the topping will be heavy. Refrigerate it covered for an hour or more.
  • Pre-heat oven to 190 C / 375 F. Line a 9'' square or bigger tray with parchment. Transfer half the chilled mixture to the tray. Press it down very gently, spreading it in an even layer. 
  • Bake for 10-15 minutes, making sure you flip the mixture once after 8-10 minutes. The baking time will depend on the thickness of the layer, be careful not to burn. The top may look light in color, but the bottom layer would be almost baked. You want this to be crisp and golden when done. Once cool, the topping will crisp up.
  • The mixture will break when you flip, that's fine. Carefully bake a minute or two more if needed. Cool, break up the topping as you like it, I like largish bits. Stir in the walnuts, store airtight till needed. 

For the filling : If baking this for the first time, you may want to cook a tiny portion of the apples first to test what you like best. 

Take all the ingredients in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Over low heat, cook covered for 2-3 minutes or till the apples are soft but not mushy. Remember, it will cook some more even off the heat. And then that will be the texture you will have in your dessert (unless you plan to bake it again with the topping) 

Assemble: Spoon some warm apple filling (with the juices) into ramekins. Top with as much crumble as you like ( I like lots, like half and half!), scoop some ice cream over it. Serve immediately. 

Apple Crumble

Please note : If you add berries like in the original recipe, you may not want to add more liquid like water or juice as there would be enough released from the fruit. The cornflour is to thicken the juices slightly. 

The recipe directs to bake the assembled crumble again to re-warm the dessert, but I found that unnecessary. If you will be baking the assembled crumble gain, the fruit will cook further. You can see me warning you not to do it 

If you have baked the crumble topping much ahead, check once before serving. You may need to bake again briefly if the crunch is lost. Blamed on frequent tasting and letting in some winter air into the container. 

Think wicked ahead. It may not be a bad idea to bake the topping and stash it in the freezer for dessert emergencies. Briefly bake to restore crunch if needed. We have a long winter ahead, just being prepared.

So, the way I made it sacrifices the visual appeal and charm of the fruit juices spilling over the sides. But I think I will live with it. This, for now at least, will be the only way a crumble will be made in my kitchen. You could try this with your favorite topping recipe, but do share it with me!

Syrupy warm fruit with texture, lots of light crisp topping, vanilla ice cream melting over it. Think I like it!

1 comment:

Rajani said...

An eggless recipe from you, and I just bought apples yesterday. What more? Awesome. I loved reading thru as much as enjoying the recipe.