Winter is upon us. Not Christmas. Not New Year. But Winter, grinding away the days. There was more snow this week, and more predicted for next week. Itâ€™s cold outside, baby, and all I want to do is curl up on the sofa in a blanket and watch the world go by.
One of the best things to eat when this kind of mood strikes has got to be a fruit crumble. Especially if you make enough for 8, then eat it a deux for dinner in its entirety, which is how we spent our frenetic Saturday night in the city that never sleeps.
When I was little my Mum would take my sister and I to the local University campus, to collect blackberries from the brambles that used the car-park walls as their trellis. Weâ€™d return home, triumphant foragers, purple-faced and black-fingered, to feast upon what were surely buckets and buckets of fruit. Enough to set up a blackberry business, most likely. It was always a shock when my Mum would tip our collection into the sink for washing and weâ€™d discover that we had enough to fill half a tea cup.
This is how I discovered that frozen berries also make great crumbles (apart from strawberries which go chewy and sickly sweet. Itâ€™s bad enough that one of us has tried this for the rest of us).
Making crumble isnâ€™t a precise science â€“ the general proportions are usually the same, but the dry ingredients can vary wildly. I use handfuls of trail mix in place of some of the flour. I sometimes ditch the nuts altogether, especially if my Dad, who doesnâ€™t eat nuts, is likely to be eating. Iâ€™ve used crushed biscuits in place of the oats. The beauty of crumble is that this all works out. But here is a crumble blue print:
Blackberry and apple crumble100g butter 100g sugar (soft brown for preference but donâ€™t get het up) 100g flour 75g porridge oats 25g chopped nuts 3 â€“ 4 cups of fruit (2 lb) â€“ Here Iâ€™m using 1 cup of blackberries and 2 cups of chopped, peeled, cored apples) Sugar to taste (if the fruit is really sharp) 1 tbsp corn starch (cornflour)
- Pre-heat the oven to 375
- Cook the fruit with some sugar (to taste) until the juices start to run and the fruit starts to soften
- Mix in the cornstarch and tip into an oven-proof bowl
- In another bowl mix together the dry ingredients with the butter â€“ you can use a mixer, but I usually do it with my fingers, rubbing the butter into the dry ingredients until they resemble rubble
- Top the fruit with the rubble
- Bake for 20 â€“ 25 minutes
I sometimes make these in individual ramekins for parties, in which case, they take less time to cook â€“ about 20 rather than 25 mins. Keep a bit of an eye on them.
Serve with cream.