Wednesday, 11 July 2012

A Quick and Easy Mid-week Dessert

A blackberry and apple crumble for 4
Namely - apple (or any other type of fruit) crumble.

A massive, massive, favourite in our house; crumble is super quick to make as well as being relatively low in calories (for a dessert!). Replace the sugar with fruit sugar (fructose) and really, it's not so bad. Okay, so there's butter, but not that much... I've also made it in the past using Benecol Buttery spread instead of butter. It tastes truly awful when spread on your bread, but you really don't notice the difference in cooking - and believe me, I can smell "fake" butter at 50 paces, it's my downfall (well, one of them!).

The really great, truly fantastic thing about crumble topping, is that you make a portion, use half and freeze the other half. Then, some mid-week day when you fancy treating Him Indoors or simply feel a little indulgent, simply stew some fruit til it softens (but is not in a complete mush), throw in a dish and whack on the topping, straight from the freezer, pop it in the oven and 40 minutes later - dessert! How fantastic is that? I often just use enough for a small crumble, for the two of us (the Smallies in the family still turn up their noses at all desserts that are not chocolate or pavlova!), so that means I have 3 portions of crumble topping in the freezer.

Anyhow, no time for chitty-chatting, transpires all my crumble topping is GONE! Shock, horror. So I need to make some up quickly and then I'll be back to post the master recipe for you.

Okay, crumble in the oven! Here's my recipe for crumble topping (PS, the measurements below make enough topping for a crumble for 4-6 people, depending how greedy you feel, so you should have plenty left over for at least one more crumble):


  • 75g cold butter, cubed
  • 125g plain flour
  • 75g caster sugar (or equivalent of fructose, which would be about 50g)
  • 50g porridge oats (not the jumbo variety)
  • 50-100g chopped hazelnuts (any nuts are good, I prefer hazelnuts as they are harder and crunchier, whereas walnuts are quite soft)
  1. Rub the chilled butter and flour together, to form a breadcrumb like consistency, then stir in the sugar first to combine, then add the oats and nuts and ensure all are well mixed (you can also do the butter, flour and sugar together by pulsing in a food processor)
That's it! Simply spread over slightly stewed fruit (push it down a little, but don't compact it) in an ovenproof dish, and bake for 35 - 40 minutes at 180ยบC.

A note regarding the fruit:
What you choose is up to you. Apple is the most common, and when I'm using apples I do like to par-cook them first, otherwise I find they don't disintegrate into that lovely velvety texture I really like. Quantities of fruit are difficult to be precise. 
This evening, I've used 3 large bramley / cooking apples. Actually, I cooked off five (with a sprinkle of sugar to help them break down and a good dash of cinnamon), as I happen to have them - like the crumble topping, this also freezes beautifully... And left over apple sauce (let's call it "compote", to be fancy) is also delicious stirred into your morning bowl of porridge
In autumn, I like to add in a punnet of blackberries, when they are available in the supermarket. I tend to pop about half the berries in with the cooking apples, and then leave the other half whole, dotted around the crumble. Even better (and cheaper!) are those fresh from the hedgerow, if you have access - the taste is incomparably better.
Rhubarb in spring makes a fabulous crumble, as do gooseberries in summer. You can also use peaches or apricots or anything really you can get your hands on. Again, quantities will differ from from fruit to fruit, as will the amount of sugar you cook them with. But again, left over stewed fruit freezes beautifully, so leftovers can always be accounted for!

Lastly, and not to be forgotten... What to serve it with? Well, that's totally up to you, I went to the world of trouble making fresh, homemade custard for Him Indoors one night, only to be told that for a crumble, it should be Birds! Have bought a packet since, and saved myself loads of trouble. Creme fraiche and ice-cream are the other big favourites here, although lots of people also love pouring or whipping cream.
Of course, this does add to the the calorie load, so we usually stick to one of the lower fat creme fraiche's for a mid-week dessert.

Now, off to bag up my leftover crumble topping and freeze for the next day.

Sarah xx
PS - another terrible interview today, hence the need for dessert! Well, not so much terrible as just not what was expected - there was no mention of shifts in the job description, and the salary wouldn't cover childcare costs that the shifts would require - bring on the dessert.

EDIT - 21st July 2014: I made a peach and raspberry crumble last week, it was lovely. The peaches were a punnet a of those "ripen at home" ones from Lidl, I'd left them on a windowsill and promptly forgot all about them, by the time I remembered them they were extremely wrinkly.The raspberries were from the freezer - a bag of frozen raspberries from Lidl (again!) and stashed away for emergency desserts (they are great turned into a coulis and poured over buns filled with cream - yum!). I used about 6 peaches, peeled and pitted and sliced, and about a third of the bag of raspberries. I didn't use any extra sugar on the fruit as the peaches were so ripe, but you could if you have a sweeter tooth; I like it sharp. Peach melba flavours - classic, and delicious.

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