Resolve Crumble

So, you know when you're having a really, really terrible week, and you have these four aged apples gazing forlornly up at you from the fruit bowl (because you buy apples sometimes even though actually you've been on a mango kick for, like, four years) and you need something to do to make you feel like you have something - anything - to contribute to society at large? No? Ok, well, how about you want/need to bake something and Apple-and/or-any-other-kind(s)-of-fruit-really Crumble sounded nice? Jolly good.

The fantastic thing about crumble, aside from the fact that you get to play the part of an honest-to-goodness culinary goddess while making it (blending the flour sugar and butter by hand - the only way to do it - will make you feel like you're part of some secret order of bustling but warmhearted kitchen matriarchs. Even if you're a guy. I swear.), is that it's incredibly versatile: I'm not kidding when I say that any kind of fruit (possibly not bananas), in more or less any quantity, will do. By "any kind of fruit", on this occasion, I mean the cranberry sauce that no one ate at Thanksgiving, as well as some raisins and the aforementioned forlorn apples (Granny Smiths, which I don't recommend if you're actually planning this ahead of time, but with some sugar and/or another less tart variant mixed in will do splendidly in a pinch).

I did this with no measuring whatsoever (I also did all the mixing in a saucepan. I mentioned the terrible, terrible week, right?), but my old reliable crumble recipe, perfected when I all-too-briefly lived in a house with both an apple tree and blackberry bushes in the garden, goes thusly:

300g + 1 tbsp flour
225g sugar
200g butter (left to soften at room temperature)
Unspecified quantity of fruit (today I used four apples and a couple of handfuls of raisins and that comfortably filled the pie dish you will see below, the specific size of which is unknown to me)
Pinch of cinnamon

Rub the 300g of flour, 175g of the sugar and the 200g butter together by hand until fully blended. Don't melt the butter first - if you didn't leave it out to soften, just cut it into small pieces and it'll mix in soon enough. Make sure you've mixed it thoroughly before you try to adjust the ingredients, and err on the side of too much butter rather than too much flour or sugar if you're not sure - it will not be good if it's too dry, whereas if it's too soft you can just cook it for a bit longer.

Mix the remaining 50g of sugar, the tbsp of flour and the pinch of cinnamon into the fruit.

Spoon the fruit mix into the dish (shallow if you want the emphasis to be on a deliciously crispy crumble top, deep if you're all about the gooey fruity goodness).

Layer the crumble mix over the fruit, without mixing, and pat down. Stick a fork in a few times to create steam vents to prevent boiling juice explosions.

Bake for about 40 minutes at 180.

Now, the thing is, I did almost none of that. 

I added a lot of ginger and a bit of nutmeg (as well as the cinnamon and an indeterminate quantity of sugar) to the fruit, but not the flour, because I was worried it wouldn't interact well with the cranberry sauce.

I made the crumble mix by sight, and with margarine, and a pinch of salt, because everything needs a pinch of salt.

I baked it at 200, for the amount of time it took me to do a lot of washing up (about 20 minutes) and then turned the grill on to achieve maximum golden crispiness.

And so because I was kind of nervous about my improvised result, I made a test portion.

(Incidentally, tomorrow I am buying all the tiny ramekins I can find and henceforth doing all my baking in individual portions because HOW CUTE IS THIS?). And I tried it, because friends don't feed friends experimental cooking without a safety net.

And it's very gingery, and probably a bit too sweet, but I don't feel ill or anything, and so off I go with my heavy ceramic dish on the DLR, joy, because if surprising people with a lovely baked treat doesn't make you feel at least a little bit useful, then nothing will.

ETA: The entire thing was gleefully dispatched in about half an hour, which was very gratifying - several people pointed out that this particular fruit and spice combination tasted like mince pie filling, which is very true, although wholly unintentional. Also, I feel a bit less rubbish now, so it worked :)


  1. Great minds think alike. I had just picked out my own comfort recipe to make later and then found your super one on the blog. Think it's another morning of grey and gloom which is propelling us all to concocting culinary antidotes.

  2. Brilliant. And it's true -- you can never have too many ramekins. We have dozens.