Monday, November 21, 2005


Actually, there are many more reasons for loving winter, including all the sweet, comforting cakes and puddings which cold weather calls for.

I have already knocked out two crumbles in the past week – both plum and apple to use up a glut I had in the fruit bowl. I added cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla to them, but what works even better (but I did not have them to hand at the time) are thick strips of orange zest tossed in with the fruit and then some grated fresh ginger. I am a firm believer that additional flavours should be added to the fruit, not the crumble mix. For me the crumble topping should remain virgin in order to provide the sweet, buttery foil to the scented layer of jewelled fruit underneath. The recipe I use is fool-proof. Some stubborn, luddite part of me always measures it out in imperial. It just seems appropriate, somehow.

per 2 pretty hungry people, 3 slightly peckish people or 4 extreme dieters. Double, quadruple etc etc as necessary. If I was serving more than two people however, I would probably make more just because I know my friends are a hungry lot. Infact I think this recipe mysteriously benefits from being doubled.


  • ½ pound of fruit (Any fruit you like – just not bananas, unless you are extremely perverse. I personally think topical fruits of any kind do not work as well as their local contemporaries, but if you must…)
  • 1 ½ tablespoons of sugar (vary this depending on your fruit - unrefined sugars are great for autumnal/winter fruit mixes)

  • Crumble

  • 4 oz plain flour
  • 2 oz cold butter (if the butter is too soft you might end up making a dough rather than a crumble mix)
  • 1 ½ oz golden caster sugar (or granulated if you want even more crunch)
  • Preheat the oven to 200°C. Cut your fruit into chunks and place in an ovenproof dish so they cover the bottom in an even layer. Sprinkle over the sugar and any other flavouring you're going to use.

    Now onto the crumble. As I am still manual in my mixing, I put the butter into the flour and sugar and then using a sharp knife, cut through the butter and continue like this until the butter is in tiny pieces and is part way mixed into the flour. Then, either with one hand (keeping the other free to answer the phone from potential employers, in my case) or a fork if you're feeling prim, rub/smoosh the butter into the dry ingredients. It should look like breadcrumbs.

    Tip the mix over the fruit, and shake it slightly to make sure the crumble covers everything. Bake until the crumble is a pale gold and, if you can see it, the fruit has become translucent and jammy.

    I can't decide whether I like this best with double cream or a corresponding ice cream (had Haagen Daaz Praline and Cream with the last plum crumble and it was luscious) . I just go with whatever is available. Gareth likes custard with his crumble. Custard made with Birds Custard powder, more precisely. I'm not saying anything.


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