Last week, one of mommy’s friends from Tanda Medical College gave her produce from her orchard in Kinnaur as a gift. Among other things, the bag contained about 3 kg of golden apples. The apples had slightly leathery skin, something you never see in store bought apples. I actually liked their look because that’s how nature intends its bounty to age. No artificial coating to retain the soft smooth skins here!
Working with unfamiliar ingredients, I wanted to make something simple and low risk. So, I looked up recipes for Apple Crumble. Nowadays, I do not follow just one recipe. I read up a few and pick and choose ideas that appeal to me.
I liked the idea of oats for the crumble topping in one of the recipes, but since I didn't have oats, I used whole grain cereal I had at home. Bad idea #1. I didn't like the idea of pre-cooking apples before sticking them into the oven, so I skipped that step. Bad idea #2. I chose to add walnuts to the crumble topping instead of mixing them with the apples. Bad idea #3. I went out to sit in the sun after sticking the bowl in the oven. Bad idea #4 and the worst of them all. The result of all these was a very bad Apple Crumble. It was burned from top and uncooked inside. It was chewy. It had no taste of walnuts. It was God awful!
Here is the recipe for attempt number 2 that came out so good that it will certainly be on my café menu. Here it goes.
1. Peel, core and chop apples into small pieces. I used about 8 small apples in my successful attempt.
2. Place in a wok with ½ cup sugar (I had only white sugar but all recipes mention brown sugar), 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon and nutmeg (mom had toasted them on a tawa and then run them through a dry mixer), and a handful of chopped walnuts or almonds.
3. Cook for 10-15 minutes on low heat. The apples should just about soften, not turn mushy.
4. Taste to check for sweetness. Add more sugar if the apples lack own sweetness.
5. Butter a baking dish and place the pre-cooked apples inside.
1. Place 1 cup of white flour in a bowl.
2. Add 1/2 cup of sugar.
3. Add about 100 gms of cold butter cut into pieces. My butter was regular salted one, so I didn’t add any salt later.
4. Rub the butter into the mixture till all the flour is coated. The result of the mixing should make the mixture look like bread crumbs- that’s what the recipes state- but mine didn’t. The clumps looked bigger and coarser.
5. Because one of the recipes mentioned it and because I had it, I added about a tablespoon of golden syrup into the mixture. This is the syrup I had bought as ice-cream topping for Aloka in Singapore. Adding it helped by giving the crumple a sticky toffee like texture in places. I think this ingredient is not essential. If I didn’t have it, I would consider adding some honey, but wonder if its flavour would overpower cinnamon’s.
6. Once done, spread the crumble mix on top of the apples evenly.
Bake at 180 degrees C for 30-40 minutes, until the crumble looks golden brown, the apple mixture is bubbling and the kitchen is filled with the fantastic aroma of cinnamon and biscuits.
Having burned the first attempt, I watched this one like a hawk. Mine was done in 35 minutes. I let it rest in the oven for another 10 minutes. Cut and serve with ice-cream. I didn’t have any, so it was served by itself. Serves 4.