Apple and Plum Crumble

When I initially wrote this recipe for Apple & Plum crumble I was curled up under a blanket, the candles were lit, the heating was on full whack, and I was even wearing a wooly hat. The following day when I go to edit this post, I was wearing a maxi dress and sunglasses, sitting on my balcony, and slathering on the Factor 50.

I reckon the reason why British food is a lexicon for comfort is the crap weather. Our reputation for stodgy, suet heavy, custard drenched puds (eh, yum!) is a necessity to keep out the cold and fire up our internal central heating. Yes I know its July, and I did debate as to whether posting a pudding which is so synonymous with Autumn was such a good idea. Well I have it on good authority (i.e. BBC Weather app) that it is a good idea. The rest of the week is supposed to be a washout so I say enjoy a little hibernation prep and hunker down with a bowl of crumble. While you’re there, if you’re struggling to decide whether to opt for ice cream, cream, or custard: do as a my Gran suggests and have all 3 and remind  yourself its for insulation purposes.

Apple & Plum Crumble

In my mind, if you’re going to the (relatively small in the pudding world) effort of making a fruit crumble from scratch, then do yourself a favour in the long run and make several. Yes you can assemble several crumbles in dishes and stash them away the freezer, but who really has that much space in their freezer? So do what I do: make industrial quantities of the crumble mix and the fruit filling (just double or triple the amounts suggested here), and freeze what you don’t use in separate freezer bags. The fruit filling will need to be defrosted first before use, but the crumble topping can be added from frozen. This way you’re never more than a freezer door away from a comforting pudding for those needs-must moments.

Now I hesitate to specify how many crumbles this will give you, because we all use different sized dishes, but as a guide this will feed approx 8 people generous portions.

Ingredients

Make it Gluten Free: Replace the flour with rice flour

Make it Vegan: Replace the butter with vegan butter (i.e. Vitalite)

Start with the fruit filling. Peel and core the apples, cut into thick chunks or slices, dropping them into a bowl of water as you go. This will stop them turning brown. De-stone the plums and cut into thick slices. Just a note, since the fruit is going to cooked then I suggest opting for under-ripe plums if you can.

Chopped plums & apples for this crumble, and a little chopped rhubarb from the garden for an experimental crumble

Add the plums and apples to a pot with 4tbsp sugar and the juice of 1 lemon. On a low heat, with the lid on and stirring regularly, cook the fruit for 5-10 minutes until the apples have softened but still retain a little bite.

Decant the fruit & all the juices into your preferred oven-proof dish(es).

Don’t be alarmed at the top dish: that’s apple & rhubarb, considerably less photogenic than apple & plum you’ll agree?

Allow any leftover fruit to cool before freezing. P.s. this fruit when served chilled is DIVINE with natural yogurt and granola for breakfast. Just saying.

Stash what you don’t use in the freezer for later crumble/comfort food emergencies

Now move onto the crumble topping but first, preheat the oven to 180C.

Cut the cold butter into small cubes to make it easier to rub into the flour

Add the flour and butter to a large bowl, and rub together with your fingers until it starts to resemble breadcrumbs or feels like damp sand. Depending on how cold your butter is, this can take approx. 10 minutes. Then stir in the sugars, oats, ground almonds and nuts (if using) until combined.

Continue rubbing the butter into the flour until it feels like damp sand.

Spread the crumble mixture over the fruit in your oven-proof dish(es) in as thick or as thin a layer as you like.

I like a thick layer of fruit & an equally thick layer of crunchy crumble.

Bake the crumbles in the oven for 35-45 minutes or until golden brown on top.

Just the sight of these bubbling crumbles hot from the oven is comforting

Leave the crumble to stand for 5 minutes before dishing up, and drenching in whatever accompaniment(s) you desire.

Now that you’ve mastered the crumble topping, don’t be afraid to play around with the fruit filling, whether it be solo or combinations of fruit. I personally think the combination of tart (gooseberries, rhubarb, blackberries, tart apples) and sweet (sweet apples, peach, plums, cherries) fruit works really well. Just follow the same instructions as above however for a single sweet fruit crumble, you might want to use less sugar when cooking the fruit since you don’t have the tartness to counterbalance it.

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