Personality-defining beliefs are made to be broken, I love it when you have a strongly held opinion that you think defines you and then all of a sudden you change your mind. I was a bit like that about crumble, who wants to eat jam and mashed up biscuits?
I had obviously only ever had the Tesco Value crumble which my dad would buy as a ‘treat’ which bears no comparison to the real deal, soft bits of fruit with a warm, sandy crumble, it’s the definition of cosy. With a bit of rhubarb going dry in the fridge I decided to tackle a crumble for the first time. Now I really hate baking, I think it’s just the precariousness of rising batter that worries me and is ultimately heartbreaking if you don’t get it right. All other kinds of cooking you can make it up as you go along, taste and adjust and it doesn’t really matter, but baking is chemistry and precision aka a royal pain.
Crumble is the kind of halfway house that I can get on with, I did a lot of research and decided on a crumble mix of equal parts of oats, flour and ground almonds for maximum flavour, variety and healthiness. Reading about the potential for oaty crumbles to turn into a porridgy mess I pre-dried them out in a hot oven for a bit. I also froze my butter to ensure optimum crumbleosity. Can you tell I got a little bit too into this?
The results were really good, I added a bit of chinese five spice into the fruit mix as well as your trad cinnamon and nutmeg because I’m a spicy herby renegade, it worked out pretty good. I think I slightly undercooked it the first time round, but when I had it reheated for breakfast it was absolutely delightful. One of my new favourite breakfast foods! Thanks for opening up my blinkered mind, crumble.
Rhubarb and Apple Crumble Ingredients
6 stalks of rhubarb, sliced with tough skin removed
3 apples, roughly chopped
Sugar/honey to taste
Chinese five spice
50g each of ground almonds, oats and wholemeal flour
30-40g of sugar
I gently precooked the fruit, in a pan with some butter and the sugar to take the edge off the rhubarb and soften everything up. Make sure you don’t overcook, you want the apple to be just done. While the oven was preheating I lightly toasted my oats on a baking tray to dry them out. The crumble was made by freezing the butter and grating it into the flour, oats and almond mixture. Grating frozen butter is a really weird thing, everyone should try it at least once.
Gently sprinkle the crumble mix over the fruit, don’t press it in so it stays dry. Chuck in a 200 C oven for twenty mins, lookout for the fruit mixture bubbling up on the sides and it should be ready. Serve with double cream, it’s also really nice in this weather served just warm with some ice cream.
Isabelle O'Carroll: I’m a writer, content designer and consultant with 11+ years’ experience across fashion, food and drink and the arts.