Sunday, 29 January 2012
A pudding to make my diet crumble: Apple and elderflower crumble
Crumbles really are smile inducing things. There isn't a much finer pud than hot fruit waiting to be discovered through a thick layer of sugary, ever so slightly salty, buttery rubble. When I was a kid, the measure of a good crumble was whether it was one of those types that 'stuck to your ribs', that is, it had that right balance of sharp fruit but the crumble was gooey as it had part collapsed into the lovely liquor given off from the apples, or the rhubarb (particularly rib sticking) or whatever fruity sidekick you had chosen. A good crumble should have a pleasing soporific effect, as once it sticks to your ribs and leaves you smiley, you then feel the need for a bit of a doze, post lunch, in a crumble daze. And they are easy to make, great for using up dodgy looking fruit... in fact, I am failing to find the negative here.
The crumbles of my youth were either apple or rhubarb, the latter, oozing a greeny and pinky hue from under a delicious golden rubble. Apple ones were just as delicious, mostly, but were generally lighter in texture, and that's no bad thing. But if you didn't know your apples, you might end up with a pale green pulp redolent of apple sauce which wasn't quite the effect desired. That is why, in my opinion, you shouldn't let a Bramley apple near a crumble - A personal view admittedly. I like chunk, sweet appley chunk, with a waft of cinnamon in the vicinity.
I decided to add a splosh of elderflower cordial to the mix for two reasons. One: apple and elderflower is delicious, and two: It was in the cupboard and I often like to add it to sparkling water. Whilst the finished dish will not have you thinking 'Wow! Elderflower!' I do think it adds a hint of something quite pleasant.
The crumble recipe I give here is very approximate. Indeed, I recommend you don't follow it because you will have your own idea about how you like your crumble. And the recipe I use changes every time. Basically, I am looking for something that looks like biscuits that have been bashed with a rolling pin, which when you taste it raw, should be rubbly, sweet, salty, 'buttery' and these days nutty. And you need plenty of it: Now is not the time for restraint when it comes to making a crumble. I want some of the underside to dissolve into the fruity soup below, to give that rib sticking effect, and I want the top to caramelise nicely as the butter and sugar mingle and melt. I would also be extremely disappointed if some of the molten fruit did not seep up through the edges of the rubble, creating pools of dense fruitiness here and there.
Yes, I'm smiling.
Apple and elderflower crumble
Serves 4, plus Lola and Finn.
Six to eight firm, sweet eating apples, peeled, cored and cut into wedges
1 tbsp lemon juice
50g sugar, added to taste. You may need slightly more or slightly less, and for that you need to taste the mixture
50ml elderflower cordial
1 tsp cinnamon
For the crumble: You may need to vary the quantities and my advice is taste a little of the crumble.
150g plain flour or maybe wholemeal if you fancy
a pinch of salt
a handful of walnuts, finely chopped or blitzed. (Or other nuts of your choosing)
1 tsp cinnamon
50g sugar - could be white, demerara, soft brown.
Peel, core and quarter the apples and coat them in the lemon juice in a bowl to stop them browning.
Melt the butter over a gentle heat in a frying pan.
Add the apples. Coat them in the melted butter mixture and leave to soften on a gentle heat for a few minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent them from sticking and browning.
Add some of the sugar, the elderflower cordial and the cinnamon. Stir to combine and leave to blip away for a few minutes. Taste the liquid. You might feel it needs more sugar.
Pierce the apple slices with a sharp knife. They should be cooked or almost cooked. Transfer the apple mixture to a suitable dish.
For the crumble, combine the butter and the flour and either rub between your fingertips to combine or else whizz in a food processor. Add the sugar, salt and cinnamon and walnuts. Mix to combine.
When you are happy with the crumble mixture, top the fruit with it. I like to have about half an inch of crumble mix on top. If there is any crumble mixture over I tend to put it in a container in the fridge and make another crumble soon.
Place in the oven, on a baking tray to avoid any oven cleaning later on, at 180c for about 30 - 40 mins, or until the top is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling up the sides. Remove to oven and allow to rest for about 5 - 10 minutes as it will be very hot.
Serve with vanilla ice cream maybe, or cream maybe, or custard, definitely...and prepare to smile.