“Elly Belly?” she called. “Can you give me a manicure after school?”
“I gave you one yesterday, sweetie,” Bella answered, still scrubbing the skillet, which was, Fiona thought it important to note, thoroughly clean and had been for the last five minutes.
“Can you teach me guitar?” Sally went on.
“The guitar’s too big for you still, Sally. Like I said before, give it a year or so and we’ll start.”
“Can we have your apple caramel-umble for pudding tonight?” Sally pressed. Apple caramel-umble was the name Sally had given the pudding Bella had made the week before. It was supposed to be a crumble but she’d been distracted by her boxes arriving and she was unpacking at the same time she was getting the Christmas decorations out therefore she accidentally doubled the brown sugar and the butter so it ended up a gooey, caramelized mess, which the children had adored.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but in this world there are Apple People and there are Crumble People. If you have read my books or any of these recipes, you will know I am a person of the crumble variety.
Now, for you Americans reading this, people will tell you that British food sucks.
British food is awesome. British food rocks!
There is a lot I can say about British food but I will say it in future recipes. For this recipe, I will wax poetic about one of my favourite British desserts, apple crumble, and my most favourite British culinary masterpiece, custard.
As far as I know, Americans have not embraced custard. I do not know why. Custard is nirvana in liquid form – that is, thick, yummy, rich liquid form. Brits pour custard on practically everything sweet and they should be heralded as geniuses the world over for doing this. It doesn’t surprise me the Brits ruled the world for so long considering their constant use of custard.
But, being me, and being American, I have to fiddle. Although apple crumble is totally brilliant as it is, once I got the recipe, and being a person of the crumble variety, I changed it. Indeed, when I made my first apple crumble, my ex-husband who, unlike me, grew up eating this yumminess, walked up to me, bowl of crumble in his hand held close to his face, still spooning the custard-covered dessert in his mouth, and garbling through crumble and custard, “This is the best crumble I’ve ever had in my life.” He then went on (after he swallowed) to tell me that, even so, it couldn’t be called Apple Crumble and he christened it Apple Caramelumble.
And now I share this with you.
- 200-250g plain flour, sieved with a pinch of salt
- 200-250g brown sugar (dark or light, muscavado in the UK)
- 250g unsalted butter, cut it into cubes and take it out early so it is at room temperature
- A bit more butter for greasing the pan
- 2 Bramley or 3 Granny Smith Apples (now, if you are an apple person, do 3 Bramleys or 4 Granny Smith Apples). Peel, core and cut them into thin slices.
- 50g (or 2 tablespoons) brown sugar (again, dark or light, muscavado in the UK)
- 1 tablespoon plain flour
- Several dashes of ground cinnamon
How to do it…
Preheat your oven to 180C or 350F and grease your pan well (I use a deep-dish, rectangular Le Creuset pan because the caramelumble can get caramel-sticky!).
Place the peeled, cored, sliced fruit in a large bowl and sprinkle on the sugar, flour and cinnamon. You can use a spoon but I get my hands in there and mix it all around. Pour the fruit into the bottom of your prepared pan and arrange it so it covers the bottom. Just a note that Bramley and Granny Smith apples are tart so if you aren’t into tart with sweet, then you may want to put a wee bit more sugar into the fruit before you put it in your pan.
In the fruit bowl (without rinsing it out), sift your flour and then dump in the sugar and the butter. You can do the butter bit by bit (throw some in, rub it in, throw more in) but I don’t bother. I just dump it all in. Again, you must use your hands, squeeze and knead that butter into the flour and sugar until it becomes all yummy gloopiness (or like breadcrumbs but if it looks like breadcrumbs, although it will still be delicious, you don’t have enough sugar and butter in there – though, don’t freak out – you can totally screw this up and bake it and it’ll be fab!).
Either crumble or sprinkle your topping on the fruit.
Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes until the crumble is all melted, gooey lusciousness.
Take out of the oven and see that the butter and sugar have formed a delicious, caramelumble mess that has melted into the fruit.
Eat instantly but only after you pour over custard (get the good stuff) or heavy cream or add a scoop of ice cream. Be careful! The apples will be hot so don’t gorge yourself as you don’t want your tastebuds burnt, trust me, you want to experience this without injury!