Yesterday was a low-calorie day for me as I endeavour to return to the svelte, Adonis-like figure I had when young. Perhaps aiming for the slim figure I had when at art college where I survived on roll-ups and the occasional halloumi kebab is misguided.
One thing that doesn’t help on those days is when you have to spend the afternoon with apple crumbles surrounding you like the Devil on your shoulder. Taunting you, mocking your metabolism and lack of exercise. I held fairly firm, I mean you have to check your recipe tastes good before you let other people eat it don’t you? But I decided I would make another one today and have a bloody great big bowl of it.
This is one of the classic British puddings. Really simple, and with only a few steps, almost fool-proof. That doesn’t mean there won’t be complaints though. It’s one of those dishes that is so full of childhood nostalgia that you can come a cropper if you leave the apple chunks too large, put blackberries in it, dust it with maple sugar, add orange zest or who knows what else. If it’s not like the one your mother or grandmother used to make, it’s not good enough. (That is assuming they could cook. They may have been complete disasters in the kitchen).
Risking the wrath of my wife, I added thyme and blackcurrants to this one, as well as yeast to boost the appleyness of the Bramleys. Her portion disappeared in a flash.
1.6kg peeled, cored and chopped Bramley apples
A punnet of blackberries (rhubarb or gooseberries are also great)
Juice and zest of a lemon
4tbsp caster sugar
7g yeast, dissolved in 80ml warm water
A handful of thyme leaves
For the crumble topping
130g chilled butter
130g golden, unrefined caster sugar
260g plain flour
Heat the oven to 180c
Coat the apple in the lemon juice, tossing well. Cook the chunks in the sugar, butter and yeast water until softened. Mash half of the apples, leaving the rest nice and chunky. Stir in the thyme and blackcurrants then transfer to a large baking dish.
Grate the butter into the sugar and flour to make the topping. Rub it all together between your fingertips until it’s sandy. A few lumps left here and there will give nice texture when it’s cooked.
Spread the crumble over the cooked apple and cook in the oven for about 45 minutes. The top should be golden and crumbly. Leave to cool a little and serve with ice cream. Or cream if you like that kind of thing. Which I don’t, so it’s wrong.