I don’t do many puddings but one I can make is a crumble. The great thing about a crumble is you can use whatever fruit is available, and mix it up to suit your taste (or the contents of your fridge or fruit bowl). Apples (eating or cooking ones), plums, pears, gooseberries, and rhubarb – all of these are great in crumbles.
And making a crumble topping is also dead easy and again, you can make it with whatever there is in your cupboards – well almost!
Today I made a plum and apple crumble because that’s what I had: 4 plums and 3 largish red eating apples. I used a mixture of flour, porridge oats, ground almonds, nuts, sugar and butter to make the crumble topping. Here’s how I did it.
First, wash you hands! 🙂
You will need:
A saucepan, a largish mixing bowl, a baking tray, and an oven proof dish to cook the crumble in.
Start with the fruit.
Peel and core the apples and chop or slice them fairly thickly (about 3/4 cm). Next cut the plums in half around the stone, twist and you should have two halves, one with a stone in, the other without. Cut the stone half carefully to extract the stone (if they are very ripe it will come out more easily). Discard the stone and slice the plums into quarters.
Place the fruit into the saucepan and give it a squeeze of lemon juice. Lemon juice stops the fruit discolouring and it also acts as seasoning. Sprinkle over some sugar – you can use granulated sugar, or caster sugar, but I prefer some light brown soft (muscovado) sugar. How much is up to you, but better to start with less and taste it later to see if it wants some more.
Add a splash of water and put it on a low heat for about 10-15 minutes. You are aiming to soften the fruit not completely cook it. NB: it isn’t necessary to pre-cook the fruit like this but I like to give it a helping hand, especially if it quite hard (like my plums are).
At the end of the process you should have some just soft fruit with a lovely sweet cooking liquid (DON’T throw this away!), so leave it to cool while you make the crumble.
You can find recipes for crumble online if you like but the principle I follow is a mix of dry ingredients with butter and sugar. Making crumble is a bit like making pastry, except you don’t add water to bind it all together. In fact it’s a lot easier than making pastry!
Get you bowl and start to add ingredients. You can measure if you have scales, or guesstimate if you don’t.
I started with 100g of flour (I had gluten free plain flour but ordinary plain flour or self-raising would be just as good). Then I threw in 50g of porridge oats and 50g of ground almonds, and large handful of chopped nuts (almonds and hazelnuts because I had them, but walnuts or pecans would work too).
NB: You can make crumble with just flour, or just oats, but I like the mix of different textures and flavours.
Now I added 75g of muscovado sugar (again add more if you have a sweet tooth) but bog standard white sugar would work (you might need less though because its sweeter). Finally I added about 100g of cubed unsalted butter (salted butter is just as good) and a pinch of salt (see below, left).
Wash your hands again and then mix everything together with your fingers until is looks, well, mixed and crumbly.
Ok, now its time to put it all together.
Set your oven to about 180 (electric) or gas mark 4.
Get your oven dish and spread the fruit in the bottom of it. It should mostly fill this with about an inch to spare. Don’t waste that juice, pour it over the fruit and just check the taste. If it is a bit too sharp sprinkle on a bit more sugar, if it’s too sweet, add a squeeze of lemon. Add a little more liquid (water – or some apple juice if you have it) if there’s not much left in the fruit.
Now sprinkle your crumble mixture over the fruit evenly so it is all covered. If you are feeling particularly indulgent you can dot a little bit more butter over the crumble but you don’t need to.
Place your ovenproof dish on a baking tray (to catch the oozing fruit juices later!) and bake in the middle of the over for 40-45 minutes. You can check it after about 35 minutes to make sure the top isn’t burning. Since you’ve par-cooked the fruit it shouldn’t take too long. What you are looking for is to see that the top is nicely browned and the fruit is beginning to bubble up through the crumble.
All you need now is some custard, some cream, or ice cream (or all three!), a bowl and a spoon and there you have it: comfort crumble to chase away the lockdown blues!