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Generally Recognized As True: Old-fashioned apple & berry crumble

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Old-fashioned apple & berry crumble

This is a rather traditional English dessert, and it's one of the easiest baked desserts to make that doesn't come from a can. By "old-fashioned", I mean that no effort has been made to compromise this recipe for health reasons. Meaning it tastes very good.

I'll start with a picture. I don't make much effort to tidy things up. I like real food that looks somewhat rustic. Here's the picture, taken after cooling and the berry juice had stopped bubbling through the surface:

So, I said it was simple. And here's how you make it. You need:

  • 175 g all-purpose white flour: or cake & pastry flour, since the "crumble" part is essentially an unhydrated pastry
  • 75 g butter: I'm not sure if you could substitute margarine. It stops being "old fashioned" if you do! And margarine usually doesn't do much good for pastry, so maybe it's not a good idea.
  • 60 g sugar: regular, granulated sugar. You may want to adjust up or down depending on what type of fruit you're using. I'm using berries and 1 apple, which are rather sweet, so I only used 60g.
  • 30g castor sugar (optional): castor sugar is a very fine granulated sugar
  • 1 lb. fruit: I used a defrosted frozen berry mixture (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries) and 1 fresh gala apple, roughly cut into 1" cubes

Pre-heat the oven to 375F.

Weigh out the flour into a bowl. Cut up the butter into little chunks and add it to the flour. Get your hands into the flour/butter mixture and massage it and squeeze it through your fingers until the whole mixture starts to resemble breadcrumbs (takes about 5 minutes or so). In lieu of using your hands, you could probably use a pastry blender.

Once done blending the flour and butter, if you're going to add castor sugar to the crumble, you can add it and stir it in. I've made crumble with and without adding any castor sugar before and it's been fine either way, but if you want a bit of extra sweetness in the topping then you can add it.

Put the fruit into a bowl suitable for baking (in the picture above, I used Pyrex) and evenly distribute the fruit in the bowl so that one type of fruit isn't concentrated in one particular area.

Evenly sprinkle the regular sugar over the fruit.

Scatter the flour/butter mixture on top of the fruit and smooth it over so that the top is roughly flat.

Bake at 375F for 45-50 minutes. When the top is a light shade of brown, it's done. As in the picture above, the juice from the fruit will probably start to bubble through the surface. This can only make it taste better!

That's all! Let it cool down a bit and then eat it. It goes very well with either English custard or vanilla ice cream.

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