Sunday, 12 October 2008

Apples, plums and crumbs

More friends, more excuses for dessert, and another outing for the pie dish. This time for one of my all-time favourite dishes: crumble.

I love crumble. I think because it embodies all the things I love about autumn, which when it's true and proper is my favourite season. I don't mean the autumns like we've been having the past few years, I mean a proper one; blazing blue skies, the slightly weaker, but still warming sunshine and the crisp clean cold mornings. Autumn should be hues of red and gold, not grey and grey. It should be crisp, yet warming. Just like a good crumble. Golden baked crumbs topping the hidden delight of warm spiced fruit that retains a little sharpness.

I made my crumble the epitome of my thoughts about autumn; a lightly crispy golden crust covering the deep scarlet of plums and the sharpness of English apples. And it, like the current autumn, didn't disappoint. I probably should have used more fruit, as I like a deep layer, but it was done in a hurry and the chopping of more apples and the stoning of more plums just didn't happen. However it worked well. I tend to lean towards rhubarb or plain apple crumble, or even gooseberries if I have some, but it was plums in the fridge and apples in the bowl and so that's what we had. Having learnt from the pie experience I decided to gently simmer the fruit first with a little water and spices to soften them slightly and draw out the juices. Then I just covered with the topping and let it do it's thing.

This was all that was left this morning, so I think it went down pretty well!

It was intended to make us warm, and hold warm thoughts for a cold morning in London (our friend was doing a half-marathon this morning and I figured he might need something to keep the engine going), but as it happened it was nearly 20 degrees here today! Not crumble weather after all, but there were no complaints from any of us. Perhaps it was the succumbing to true autumn recipes that made the sun realise that it hadn't been out much in summer and so should start showing it's face a little more now to make up for it?

Spiced Sunshine-bringing Crumble: (If it doesn't bring the sun for you at least it might warm you up) - Serves 6-8

Four largish plums, stoned and chopped
Three medium apples, cored and chopped (peel left on)
cinnamon/mixed spice/ginger, to taste ( I used a large dash of each)

100g plain flour
100g wholemeal flour
75g soft brown sugar
1tbsp demerara sugar
large dash cinnamon
100g cold unsalted butter, cubed

Preheat oven to 180C

Place the plums, apples and mixed spices in a saucepan with two tablespoons of water and leave to simmer until just hinting at being soft and the juices have run slightly. Leave to cool. While the fruit is cooling place the flours, sugars and cinnamon in a bowl and mix together. then cut or rub in the butter until you have a coarse breadcrumb consistancy. Place the fruit in a deep pie dish and make as level as possible. Then sprinkled the crumble topping over the fruit. Make sure it's even without patting it down. Bake for 35 mins, or until the top is golden and the fruit just bubbling at the sides. Remove from the oven and rest for 5 or so minutes until serving.

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