By Karen Vivers
This is one of those recipes, that although very simple, never loses its charm. In fact the simplicity is what I love about the crumble. By using the humble apple and covering it in the most unpretentious topping (a sort of lose pastry), you can create a dessert that nobody can resist.
The trick for me is not to add sugar to the apples until they are cooked. I like to get the best out of their own sweetness and only add some if really, really necessary (to date, I have never added sugar to the apple filling). The other little trick I have, is to keep some apple back, uncooked, and only add to the pie dish before it goes in the oven, this means that you have some soft apple and also a little bit of crunch, only a little though. You’ll see what I mean in the recipe …
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes
Ingredients for 6 to 8 Servings
For the Apple Filling
6 x apples (I like Elstar) peeled and chopped roughly
2 x apples, peeled and chopped in small cubes. Set these aside in a bowl of water with a few drops of lemon juice
2 x tbsp water from the tap
Sugar to taste, if needed.
For the Crumble Topping
300gr / 10.5 oz. plain flour
125gr / 4.5 oz. soft brown muscavado sugar
125gr / 4.5 oz. butter
1 x tbsp extra sugar for sprinkling
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°C / 350°F.
- Place the water and then the 6 chopped apples in a pan and cook on a medium high heat until they start to break down and become soft. You can stir them now and then, just check that they are not too hot and sticking. This should take about 7 minutes.
- When the apples have cooked, check for sweetness and add a little sugar if needed, stir through. Then drain the other 2 chopped apples and add them to the cooked mix, stir through and set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix the flour, butter and sugar together by rubbing it through your fingers until it looks like breadcrumbs.
- Place the apple mix in your oven proof dish, sprinkle the crumble over the top. The best thing is to keep it rustic and resist the temptation to make it neat. If you smooth it out, you won’t get such a nice crunch.
- Sprinkle over the remaining sugar and place in the oven for about 20 to 25 (check after 15) or until the crumble topping is nice and brown and crispy.
Tips and Variations
- Try with pears instead of apples. I this case the pears need much less cooking. You can even add them raw to the bottom of your crumble dish if they are nice and ripe.
- Other fruits that work really well with this recipe are plums and berries, especially brambles (black berries). You can of course mix these with apples too.
- Try adding a little cinnamon to the apples as they cook for a variation on flavour.
- Serve with cream, custard or vanilla ice-cream.
- If you are wondering about the instruction to chop 2 of the apples finely and keep them aside, well, there are 2 reasons. Firstly, the fact that they go into the crumble raw means that they keep a little bit more crunch. And, the reason that I keep them in water with a little lemon is to stop them turning brown. You can of course chop them up at the last minute.
- If you keep the crumble topping a bit rough and ready, that is, not mix it too perfectly, leaving a couple of lumps of butter (not too much of course), you get a better, crispier and crunchier result.
Karen Vivers, originally from Scotland, has lived here in Amsterdam since 1997, and has set up the Cooking Coach to help inspire people to get back into the kitchen. The basis of the cooking lessons are easy, tasty, healthy recipes. Each course starts with a free introduction session, to make sure that you only cook what you like to eat.
As well as cooking lessons, Karen offers Culinary Tasting Tours in Amsterdam, is a passionate food blogger, writer, author of “Love Food, Live Healthy” and works freelance as a Business Consultant, specialising in small and medium food businesses, helping them get started, grow and deal with commercial challenges.
Love Food, Live Healthy is ideal for those of us who really enjoy our food, but want to eat consciously without compromising on flavour. Packed with over 100 recipes, this book has lots of practical cooking and healthy eating tips. Designed for cooks of all skill levels, whether you love cooking or just love eating!
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