One sign of the A&N life returning to a more familiar rhythm is that we had some friends around for food. Not only was it a treat for us, but a treat for Mark and Cath as well, as their baby boy was born 6 weeks after Baby A&N so life has been an adjustment for them too. There were a lot of firsts for all of us that day - first time we met baby Arthur, first menu we had to plan and cook around a baby's eat/sleep/play schedule, first time Arthur decided it was ok to smile at strangers. With all this newness, I felt justified in making a familiar dessert but with a slightly different - and adult - twist.
Introducing the apple crumble. The apple crumble is an improvement on the apple pie in one important way: it's easier to make. And while the apple pie crust is it's own delight of buttery goodness, the crumble topping, with the naughty addition of sugar, makes you feel as if you're eating your apple filling with warm cookies on top. Hardly a bad thing.
I used to make apple crumble much more often when we had two apple trees in the garden; the good tree (with the tasty apples) never gave much and it was a fight to wrestle away the one or two apples a season from the squrriels. The cooking apple tree belched out imperfect, rotten apple after rotten apple, but even with only 50% of those apples salvageable our friends (and ourselves) were kept in crumble until the winter. Though my crumble making abilities aren't as well honed as my brownie abilities (in which I can whip up a batch in less then 10 minutes, even at 11pm and *ahem* slightly worse for wear), I am mostly on auto-pilot when crumble time comes.
So to shake thinks up, I've introduced almonds, both in the form of the nut and of the liquor. The apples were gently sauteed in butter and ameretto before being baked, and whole almonds were whizzed up in the blender with the crumble topping, with a few more almond slivers thrown on top for good luck. You have to like almonds, then, to like this variation, but it was a rich and indulgent change on the norm, turning the cookie crumble topping into a nutty, adult treat. Enjoy with a bit of ice cream, and the knowledge that your kids will probably need a few years to come around to wanting second helpings. Again, hardly a bad thing.
Apple and Almond Crumble
I made mine in a 12x10 sized deep dish, but generally put it in a dish that gives you enough apples to have a good apple layer, and enough crumble to cover them all slightly generously
For the filling:
- 8 or so medium sized cooking (Bramley) apples (around 7 cups in volume)
- 1 1/2 Tbs flour
- 1/2 C / 100g sugar
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 3 Tbsp / 40g butter
- 1/4 C / 60ml amaretto liquor
For the crumble topping
- 1C / 120g flour
- 2 Tbs / 30g almonds
- 3 Tbs / 30g jumbo oats
- 1/2 C / 100g sugar
- 1/2 C plus 1 Tbs / 125g butter, softened
- Optional: a handful of almond slivers
- Pre-heat the oven to 175 C / 375 F.
- Peel and core the apples, and slice them into thick, half-moon shaped chunks.
- Toss the apples together with the flour, half cup of sugar and cinnamon and set aside for a good hour.
- Once the apples have produced some juices, heat a frying pan (big enough to hold all the apples) on medium heat. Melt the butter and add in the amaretto liquor, and cook for a minute or so until the alcohol begins to burn off and reduce.
- Add in the apples and the juices, and stir for a couple of minutes - remove from heat before the apples have softened and set aside.
- In a blender, whizz together the flour, almonds, sugar, oats, and butter until it resembles coarse meal.
- Empty the apples into a deep baking dish and spread out evenly.
- Sprinkle the crumble mixture on top so that all the apples are covered, and press down gently but firmly. Sprinkle a handful of almond slivers on the top if so desired.
- Bake for 30 minutes or so, until the crumble feels firm to the touch and is golden brown.