Fruit crumbles make a regular appearance in our house during the colder months, bringing comfort as the nights draw in. Apple and blackberry is a family favourite, made all the better when wild berries are used – picked from nearby hedgerows. The fruits used may change throughout these colder months, both pears and plums making a good alternative, and as winter gives way to spring, there is always the rhubarb season to look forward to. Pre-cooking the crumble topping isn’t the traditional method but it does help to prevent any sogginess, and for that reason I much prefer doing it this way.
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You Will Need
Preheat the oven to 180°C fan/200°C/400°F/gas 6.
To make the crumble topping, tip the flours, sugars and ginger, if using, into a large bowl and mix together. Dice the butter and add to the dry ingredients, rubbing it into the flour with a delicate touch. Add the oats and give everything a mix together. Lay the crumble mixture out on a baking sheet and bake for 15–20 minutes, giving the crumble a mix halfway through. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
Prepare the apples by peeling, coring and cutting them into 3cm (1¼ inch) chunks and place them in a medium pan. Add 30g (1¼oz) of the butter, the sugar and cinnamon, if using, along with 50ml (2fl oz/scant ¼ cup) of water. Set over a low heat and gently simmer for 10 minutes or until the apples soften.
In the meantime, wash and prepare the other fruit (if using). Remove the woody stalk from the figs and the stones from the plums, then cut each in to 8 pieces, adding them to the pan along with the whole blackberries. Cook for a further 2 minutes.
Use a slotted spoon to transfer the fruit to a suitable baking dish, leaving behind the juices. Add the remaining butter to the pan and turn the heat up a little, allowing the butter to melt. Simmer for 2–3 minutes, until the juices have reduced and thickened, then add to the fruit and stir everything together. Top generously with the blind baked crumble and bake for 20 minutes, or until the crumble is golden and crisp and pockets of sticky fruit juice start to bubble at the edges. Serve with a generous glug of homemade custard – comfort bathed in comfort.
Variation: If you wanted to serve the crumble with the addition of the decorative fruit as in the image, only half cover the coooked fruit with the crumble mix. In the meantime you could prepare the decorative fruits while the crumble-topped fruit is in the oven:
To make an apple rose, follow the instructions on page 21, then set to one side. Thinly slice the plums and cut out flowers from the flesh using a daisy cutter or similar, and halve the blackberries.
When the crumble has come out of the oven, decorate the exposed baked fruit with the decorative fresh fruit and serve.