From Market to Crumble
I suppose all of you who read the blog last week expected me to go to the market and buy a dozen carrots to make Rose Bakery’s carrot cake. Well, I did go to the market. And I did buy those carrots. And they were awfully good roasted as a side dish with my dinner this evening. They didn’t make it to the dessert table after all. Only because a beautiful selection of apples and pears did. Long tables at the market with a dozen varieties of apples and pears distracted me, and had me thinking crumble, not carrot. Despite the absence of bright, ripe summer berries, there is still great fruit to be had at this time of year, and a crumble is a super fast and easy way to use it all.
I asked the lady at the market which types of apples and pears she’d recommend for baking – ones that cook well, but won’t turn to mush either. She pointed to a few, and I decided to go for a mix – determine which ones I like the best for crumble round 2. Elstar and Cox Orange apples, along with Kaiser Alexander and Conference pears made it into my market caddy – two of each. The quantity you need for the crumble really just depends on how many people you plan on feeding, and how big a pan you’re aiming to fill.
Baking a crumble is simply a matter of throwing whatever fruit you like in a baking dish, covering it with a sweet topping, and waiting for the fruit to bubble up underneath. The sugar and butter in the topping melt into the fruit, making for a juicy mixture, with caramelized edges if you’re lucky. I microwave the apples and pears real quick before putting them in the pan, just to soften them up a bit and avoid biting into any hard, starchy pieces in the end. A little trick too is to add a spoonful of vanilla sugar to that – gets the sweet juices flowing and adds vanilla flavor too. You can certainly use plain sugar in its place. They have these nifty individual packets of vanilla sugar in Europe that are so convenient, just love it. Your apples may already be sweet enough, so you can even skip this step if you prefer. I like to make the crumble topping in advance, either the night before, or simply in the morning if I’ll be baking that night. You’ll get more distinct clumps of topping – and that’s always the best part!
Here’s one of my crumble recipes below, which you can use as a template really – substitute in other fruits if you would like. The French version follows, which is even easier to remember. It’s like a pound cake, equal measures of ingredients – 125 grams each of flour, butter, brown sugar and ground almonds. Bon appétit! Oh, and you will most likely have topping left over. This is not a bad thing. Put it in a tupperware and throw it in the freezer. This way, you’ve got dessert on hand for any day. Have an extra apple or pear lying around? Peel it, chop it up, put it in a little baking dish, and sprinkle it with a little (or a lot) of crumb topping, and pop it in the oven. Voilà, dessert for one! As Jamie Olivier would say, easy peasy!Apple and Pear Crumble ½ cup packed light brown sugar 1 cup flour ½ cup (1 stick) plus 1 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, in small pieces 1 cup ground almonds/almond meal 4 apples 4 pears extra spoonful of sugar for precooking fruit half of a lemon
To prepare the topping:
Mix together the sugar, flour and almonds in a bowl. Using cold fingertips or a fork, work in the butter. This will take a few minutes to really blend the fat into all of the dry ingredients. Continue until you have moist clumps. Cover and put in refrigerator until ready.
Peel the fruit and cut in chunks. Sprinkle with lemon juice as you go along to avoid discoloration. Put the apples and a spoonful of vanilla sugar in the microwave for 10 minutes. Add pears and put back in microwave for 5 more minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Put fruit in baking dish and cover with topping. Bake for around 30 minutes, depending on how firm you like the topping. I like it dark golden and extra crispy.
Serve with crème fraîche or vanilla ice cream.
Crumble aux Pommes et aux Poires125 g sucre cassonade 125 g farine 125 g beurre, coupé en dés 125 poudre d’amande 4 pommes 4 poires 1 packet de sucre vanillé Préparez la pâte à crumble: Mélangez la farine, le cassonade et les amandes dans un bol. Ajoutez le beurre. Malaxez le tout avec les doigts pour obtenir une pâte grossière.
Pelez les pommes et les poires. Retirez les trognons et coupez-les en moreceaux. Ajoutez du jus de citron au fur et à mesure pour éviter que les fruits ne prennent de couleur. Faites cuire les pommes 10 minutes au micro-onde avec une bonne cuillère de sucre vanillé. Ajoutez les poires et faites cuire encore 5 minutes.
Préchauffez le four à 180 degrés Celsius. Mettez les fruits dans un plat allant au four. Répartissez la pâte à crumble sur les fruits. Enfournez et laissez cuire 30-45 minutes.
Servez avec de la crème fraîche ou de la glace à vanille.