DIY apple crumble

Happy New Year!  One of the traditional foods during Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) is apples dipped in honey to symbolise the hope for a sweet new year.  Although Rosh Hashanah does not coinside with the 1st January, I remember when we were little my mum would often give us a plate of apple and honey at the secular new year as well so I thought that an apple and honey crumble would be a fitting way to usher in 2017.  Although I usually write about savoury recipes as when you are short on time cooking savoury main meals is more pressing, we almost all like a little sweetness in our life at times and it is nice to have a few fail safe old favourites which can be made ahead and served throughout the week when you want a pudding.  This crumble is on the healthier side of puddings, contributing towards your five fruit and veg a day and using wholemeal and oats in the crumble, and it is easy to make a dairy free and vegan versions too.  By cooking the crumble separately it will keep well in the fridge for longer without going soggy, everyone can adjust to their perfect fruit to crumble ratio and you can use the same topping with a variety of different fruits so you don’t get bored.

DIY apple crumble

Cooking time: 10 minutes preparation, 30 minutes cooking, <1 minute assembly

Dietary info: vegetarian, dairy free if you use coconut oil or vegan spread instead of butter, vegan if you use coconut oil or vegan spread instead of butter and sugar instead of honey

Serves: 4-8 depending on how much crumble topping you like on your fruit

  • 1 baking apple per person
  • 1-3tsp runny honey (optional, I actually prefer the apples with no added sweetness) – replace the honey with dark brown sugar for a vegan version
  • 1tsp ground ginger or cinnamon or mixed spice (optional)

Crumble topping

  • 100g butter, or replace with vegan spread or coconut oil for a dairy free / vegan version.  If you are using coconut oil, make sure it is cold enough to be solid
  • 150g wholemeal flour
  • 100g oats
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 20g honey (replace with an extra dark brown sugar for a vegan version)
  • 10g dark brown sugar (for the vegan version, miss out the honey and use 40 g dark brown sugar instead)
  • 1tsp ground ginger or cinnamon or mixed spice (optional)
  1. Quarter and core the apples, place in a baking dish, sprinkle with the spice and drizzle with the honey (or sprinkle on sugar) to taste, and bake in the oven at 160C fan for 20-40 minutes until the apples are very soft and a little caramelised.
  2. If you prefer a smoother fruit puree then cut the apples into small chunks or grate them and put them, along with the sugar or honey and spice in a saucepan with 50ml of water and cook over a gentle heat for 15-20 minutes until the apples have broken down, stirring occasionally and adding more water if it starts to dry out.  You can also peel the apples before cooking them if you don’t like the texture of the skin.
  3. Put the flour in a mixing bowl and rub the butter / coconut oil / vegan spread with your fingers until there aren’t any big lumps of the fat left.
  4. Stir in the oats, sugar, honey (if using), spices and salt.
  5. Spread the crumble mixture on a non-stick baking tray and bake in the oven at 160C fan for 15-20 minutes until the crumble is dark golden brown and reasonably crispy.
  6. Serve the baked or pureed fruit with crumble spooned over them, and yoghurt or ice cream on the side if you want (there are now plenty of good vegan yoghurt and ice cream options available if you want to make this dairy free / vegan).

A few tips to prep ahead:

  • Make the crumble and keep it in a covered container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
  • Bake the apples and keep in a covered container in the fridge for a few days.
  • Warm the fruit (and crumble if you like your pudding really hot) in the oven or microwave before serving.

Some tasty little twists….

There are lots of ways that you can change this crumble to suit your personal preferences or make it different each time you make it:

  • Add a handful of chopped nuts, or a few tablespoons of desiccated coconut, sesame seeds or pumpkin seeds to the crumble topping along with the oats.
  • Use to top any stewed or fresh fruit, for example:
    • Rhubarb stewed with orange juice and sweetened to taste with honey or sugar.
    • Plums stewed with an optional splash of port.
    • Baked plums, nectarines or peaches.
    • Pears poached in syrup or wine flavoured with star anise or five spice powder,  or mulled wine for a festive alternative.
    • Baked pears, sprinkled with ginger or five spice powder.
    • Fresh raspberries, strawberries and/or bananas.  For bananas you can give this a Caribbean twist by mixing two chopped bananas with 1 tbsp rum and the juice of half a lime, and using allspice in the crumble topping instead of the ginger / cinnamon / mixed spice.
    • In the winter when fresh berries are hard to get, you can defrost a packet of frozen summer berries, stew them with a tsp of mixed spice.
    • Mix a handful of blackberries into stewed apple for a blackberry and apple crumble.
    • Add finely chopped dried dates or apricots along with the chopped or grated apple to sweeten stewed apple instead of sugar or honey.
  • Layer stewed or fresh fruit with layers of yoghurt or ice cream and top with crumble topping for a sundae like dessert.

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