I cultivate a relationship of deep trust and mutual appreciation with the Fruit Crumble Family. We send each other holiday cards and such, we remember our respective birthdays, and I often turn to them when I’m looking for a simple dessert that won’t keep me busy for half the day, one that will be comforting and reliably tasty. And if it can suffuse the kitchen and living-room with warm golden smells, so much the better.
It’s not the kind of dessert that makes your friends go, “Wow!”; it is the kind of dessert that makes your friend go, “Mmmm!“, and that’s really all that matters to me.
My mother makes a killer apple crumble, she really does. Often dolled up with blackberries, hand-picked and frozen in the early fall, it is always served with home-made crème anglaise in an ageless glass jug, which we unabashedly lick to the last drop once all traces of the crumble have disappeared.
I like to play around with my mother’s recipe, substituting and twisting until the crumble’s head turns.
Her recipe — one of the first I copied in my recipe book years ago — is incredibly simple, calling for equal weights of butter, sugar, flour and breadcrumbs, plus a dash of milk. But try as I might to follow it with exactitude and punctilious precision (and no, I won’t allow you to doubt this assertion), it never comes out quite the same.
So instead of trying to replicate my mother’s crumbles, I just keep my fingers crossed when I go to my parents’ for dinner, hoping that’s what she’ll make. (Then again if it’s a charlotte or a tart or a crème renversée I certainly don’t complain.)
And in my own kitchen, I like to play around with her recipe, substituting and twisting until the crumble’s head turns. In this version I used salted butter and unrefined sugar (as in all my baking), oatmeal in place of breadcrumbs for a crunchier topping, almond powder instead of flour for a subtle nutty taste, and a couple of ripe mangoes, teasing the apples with their smooth flamboyant flesh and suave exoticism.
- 5 apples
- 2 mangoes
- 60g (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, diced
- 80g (1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon) granulated sugar
- 80g (3/4 cup) oatmeal (instant or old-fashioned)
- 80g (2/3 cup) almond flour (= almond meal or ground almonds)
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- In a food processor, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add in the oatmeal and almonds, and mix again until the mixture forms coarse crumbs. You can also rub it all in a mixing bowl with your clean little fingers. (This will keep for a few days, tightly covered and refrigerated.)
- Preheat the oven to 180° C (360° F) and grease a large baking dish.
- Peel, core and dice the apples and mangoes.
- Arrange the fruit in the baking dish, sprinkle with the crumble mixture, and put into the oven to bake for 40 minutes, until the fruit is soft and the topping is crusty and golden.
- Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes and serve warm, on its own or with the proverbial dollop of crème fraîche.