At this time of year, in my part of the world, there are apples everywhere. You only have to walk down the street and you will pass a box, basket or bag of them with a sign next to them urging you to help yourself. People are giving them away left, right and centre. Not having the pleasure of owning an apple tree myself, I am a very willing recipient of them.
To me, an apple cooking is the ubiquitous smell of autumn, and I often have something apple based in the fridge for most of the season. For some reason, each year I tend to hone in on one item. Some years it may be a pie, other years it’s apple butter, similar to apple sauce but more heavily spiced and cooked for much longer so that you end up with a smooth, dark, spicy spread that is gorgeous on bread or stirred into cake batters.
This year it seems that my go to apple dish has become a quick and easy apple crumble. It’s lovely for breakfast, great as a snack pulled from the fridge and warmed in the microwave for a few seconds after work, and even better in the evening with a mug of coffee, sitting in front of the fire. In fact, my recent mini obsession with apple crumble has lead me to tweak the recipe. There’s only so much sugar, white flour and butter I can put in my body without feeling slightly concerned.
To be fair, I’ve not been entirely successful in that the topping is still packed with sugar but the rest is now healthy enough that I feel no need to limit my intake. I have swapped the regular flour for wholemeal, added a good amount of rolled oats and chucked in a few handfuls of nuts. I have also notably reduced the fat content. I still use butter as this gives a great flavour but have found that the amount of butter needed is significantly reduced with the addition of a small amount of water at the final stage. The water helps to bring the topping ingredients together and you get a lovely crunchy crumble but with less fat.
My favourite nuts to use in the crumble are pecans or hazelnuts but any nuts will work except maybe peanuts. Peanuts would give the same texture but would have a very dominating flavour.
This recipe is slightly different to a regular crumble recipe as I’ve eliminated the need to rub the fat into the flour by melting the butter then mixing it into the flour as I find this quicker and easier. If you like a juicy crumble then feel free to reduce the flour added to the apples. I prefer the juices to thicken, so like to add a little flour. Thick appley juices and crisp nutty topping. What more could you want? Well…maybe a scoop of ice cream?
Healthier Apple Crumble
For the fruit
- 4 medium sized cooking apples
- 90 g granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons level flour (optional)
For the crumble
- 75 g unsalted butter
- 165 g plain flour (wholemeal or white your choice)
- 55 g rolled oats
- 110 g sugar
- 70 g finely chopped nuts (see notes)
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- Pinch of salt
- Preheat the oven to 200°C
For the fruit
- Peel and core the apples then slice or dice to your preferred size (I go for about a 2cm square dice, if you prefer big chunks of apple cut them into larger chunks or thicker slices). Add the sugar and cinnamon, and the flour if you don’t want the apples to be too juicy. Stir together and place into your dish (see notes) pouring over any sugar cinnamon mixture that doesn’t cling to the apples.
For the topping
- Melt the butter on the hob or in the microwave.
- Mix the rest of the ingredients together then stir in the melted butter.
- Now stir in 50ml of cold water. The mixture should look clumpy and all the flour and oats should be damp.
- Sprinkle the topping over the fruit then place in the oven and cook for 35-40 minutes. The topping should be golden and the apples soft and gently bubbling.