One of my first ever recipes on this blog was for a rhubarb crumble, spiced with star anise and vanilla and served with homemade custard. While rhubarb crumble is a celebration of spring, this recipe is the ultimate, turbo-charged celebration of autumn. I mentioned the combination in that first post about crumble: a mixture of apples, pears, plums and brambles. These fruits are the absolute joys of autumn produce and come in a wide variety throughout the season, so you can make this recipe slightly differently each time. Use blackberries instead of wild brambles (though picking wild brambles is another joy of autumn in itself), use eating apples instead of cooking apples, use whatever types of ripe plums you can find at the shops.
One ingredient I highly recommend making the effort to get hold of is a bag of damsons, which are tiny darkest-blue plums that have an incredible jammy texture when cooked. They’re also quite sour after cooking, which balances out all the sweetness in the rest of the crumble. They are difficult to find in supermarkets, but you should have better luck getting them at a greengrocer.
I wished I’d had ground almonds in the cupboard when I made the crumble topping, as I think almonds go so well with fruits like pears and plums. Add a few tablespoons to the mixture with the oats if you have some. This makes a very generous quantity of crumble topping, which freezes very well, so if you don’t end up using it all just pop the remainder in a labelled plastic bag and store in the freezer for another time.
One year ago:
– Stewed apples and plums
Ingredients (makes one very large crumble to feed a crowd)
150g cold unsalted butter
250g plain flour
75g soft light brown sugar
1.5kg autumn fruit (approximately – I used 3 cooking apples, 3 pears, 8 greengages and 3-4 handfuls each of damsons and brambles)
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas Mark 4. Cut the butter into small cubes.
2. Add the butter to the plain flour and rub together with your fingers until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
3. Add the sugar and mix well.
4. Add the oats, and ground almonds if using, and mix again. Set the crumble topping aside.
5. Prepare the fruit by peeling, coring and chopping the apples and pears into chunks and removing the stones from the plums and halving. Arrange the fruit in a large, deep ovenproof dish.
6. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar over the fruit.
7. Pile the crumble topping over the fruit, pressing down gently with the back of a spoon.
8. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the crumble is golden brown and the juice from the fruit is bubbling up to the surface.
Serve with lashings of warm vanilla custard, with the curtains drawn, the heating on and surrounded by flickering candles. Comfort food done right.