Home » Ain't life great. » Just Desserts: in praise of… apple crumble

Just Desserts: in praise of… apple crumble

One thing to celebrate this fine April morning, there is as yet no law (as far as I know) against having apple crumble for breakfast – and no means of keeping me under surveillance while I furtively pleasure myself with antisocial dietary indulgence.

As a socially subversive activity it is highly recommended. Eating dessert for breakfast is a potential faux pas you can risk, living alone. And as I often say – to myself – you gotta break those habits of mind, or you’ll go crazy. Do something different now and again, Bogl. Take charge.

Okay, I admit, I purchased an Aunt Bessie’s Apple Crumble comestible last night from my local Lidl store. That could look suspicious in itself, that I didn’t make it. I do know how. I make a very acceptable apple crumble, as it happens. But so does Aunt Bessie. And for me, her way is less messy. You just open the box, take off the plastic lid (packaging alert, but it usefully keeps the crumble from falling out), put the foil tray in a hottish oven and let cook for 50 minutes.

You could then add some dots of butter on top and brown the crumble under the grill – but let me at it now, with ice cream. I don’t have time for illegal niceties.

Now, Aunt Bessie advises me that her pound of crumble will feed four, but it has lasted only two meals. Dinner, and breakfast. And I don’t regret eating enough apple crumble for four in only two goes. Fruit, butter, flour, what’s not to like, Doc? Only the sugar, but hey. I’m 14 stone already, another ton or two around the middle won’t make much difference. And four ounces each? Give me strength!

I’ll bet some company doctor dictated the copy on the pack, after much earnest consultation, many meetings. “How much shall we say is good for them, Doc?” “Oh, Bessie, about four ounces each should do it.” “But that’s barely a spoonful, Doc!” “Sure, Bessie, but did you see the size of their spoons?”

I thought the other day I may have passed a stone. I had the jabbing pain to the right of my liver, a thin slidey kind of pain as something traversed my bile duct, pissed a little blood. Now I’m all fine again. The upshot was that (apart from the ice cream) I resolved to abjure Dairy for a while. See if I can reduce the calcium my body isn’t absorbing.

Is that a good theory? Reduce one’s calcium intake? I don’t know. Beats having keyhole surgery. I ran into my friend Simon at Lidl, he’s just had keyhole surgery, they whipped out his gall bladder through his keyhole. The surgery went awry, of course – this was the local hospital, where they spent two million pounds building a second deck on the car park. When they calculated the gain, it was just two more parking spaces… I never knew anyone to go in there and not come out worse, or horizontal.

So, no more milk in my coffee, no more four bowls a day of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes, drowned in ice-cold fullcream milk, no latherings and slatherings of butter over the six slices of toast and apricot jam I was eating every day, no more pigging on slivers of camembert or crumbly Somerset cheddar every time I pass the kitchen counter on my way through. No more ice cream…

But with half of Aunt Bessie’s Apple Crumble left out overnight on the worktop – I can be a bit of a slut sometimes – the temptation was just to live the simple life and finish it cold. No-one is looking. No-one is expected shortly.

The funny thing is, I don’t normally like cooked apple. Never have. But in a crumble, the crumble gives the slimy sour apple chunks a deliciously sweet crumbiness and a chunky, slightly chewy mouthfeel that’s irresistible. Mmmnnm.

If you’re one of my American Followers – I have 14 Followers, so one of you by the law of averages must be American – you probably don’t cook using measurements, you cook with cupfulls. In this case, just think 2:1:1. And I don’t know if you have apple crumble, in the home of apple pie. So here’s how to make it, switch off if you already know how.

To 8 ounces of sifted flour (white, or brown for vegans, lol), add 4 ounces of castor sugar and 4 ounces of well-chilled, full dairy butter, cut in small cubes.

Chuck it all in a large mixing bowl and, with dry, clean fingers, briskly rub the butter cubes into the flour as if making ordinary shortcrust pastry, but do not add any liquid, stop when you get to that stage. Allow plenty of air into your mixing. You should end up with all the butter absorbed in a mess of dry, crumby flakes.

That’s the crumble. Now put slices or chunks of peeled cooking apple in a baking tin, pour the crumble mix over the top and bake in a medium hot oven for 50 minutes. You could put in an adventurous spoonful of Calvados, or anything else you brought back from holiday. Norovirus? Sorry. Add some dots of butter on top and brown under the grill. Serve with a generous blob of a) vanilla custard, b) whipped or double cream, c) sour cream or crème fraiche, d) ice cream, e) black coffee (for breakfast).

What could be simpler, or more delicious? It doesn’t even have to be apple! Rhubarb, pear, cherries (pitted and partly reduced in syrup), banana – never tried that. Or a mixture of fruits. A fruit salad crumble. Or vegetables – sweet potato and leek crumble. Carrot and parsnip crumble. Have fun with your imagination!

Or head for the supermarket, but be careful! Many readymade desserts are highly toxic. There is no reason for anything to be in your apple crumble that isn’t in Aunt Bessie’s recipe: apple, flour, sugar, butter. Oh, alright, maybe one ‘e’ for good measure…

It ought to be illegal. But it isn’t!

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