What could be better on a cold winter's day than to come home to some warming apple crumble? This is one of those recipes, that although very simple, never loses its charm. In fact the simplicity is what I love about the crumble. By using the humble apple and covering it in the most unpretentious topping (a sort of loose pastry), you can create a dessert that nobody can resist.

photo credit: essentially-england.com
The trick for me is not to add sugar to the apples until they are cooked. I like to get the best out of their own sweetness and only add some if really, really necessary (to date, I have never added sugar to the apple filling). The other little trick I have, is to keep some apple back, uncooked, and only add to the pie dish before it goes in the oven, this means that you have some soft apple and also a little bit of crunch, only a little though. You'll see what I mean in the recipe...

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes
Ingredients for 6 to 8 Servings
For the Apple Filling
6 x apples (I like Elstar) peeled and chopped roughly
2 x apples, peeled and chopped in small cubes. Set these aside in a bowl of water with a few drops of lemon juice
2 x tbsp water from the tap
Sugar to taste, if needed.
For the Crumble Topping
300gr / 10.5 oz. plain flour
125gr / 4.5 oz. soft brown muscavado sugar
125gr / 4.5 oz. butter
1 x tbsp extra sugar for sprinkling

Method
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C / 350°F.
2. Place the water and then the 6 chopped apples in a pan and cook on a medium high heat until they start to break down and become soft. You can stir them now and then, just check that they are not too hot and sticking. This should take about 7 minutes.
3. When the apples have cooked, check for sweetness and add a little sugar if needed, stir through. Then drain the other 2 chopped apples and add them to the cooked mix, stir through and set aside.
4. In a large bowl, mix the flour, butter and sugar together by rubbing it through your fingers until it looks like breadcrumbs.
5. Place the apple mix in your oven proof dish, sprinkle the crumble over the top. The best thing is to keep it rustic and resist the temptation to make it neat. If you smooth it out, you won't get such a nice crunch.
6. Sprinkle over the remaining sugar and place in the oven for about 20 to 25 (check after 15) or until the crumble topping is nice and brown and crispy.

photo credit: bundysugar.com.au
Tips and Variations
• Try with pears instead of apples. I this case the pears need much less cooking. You can even add them raw to the bottom of your crumble dish if they are nice and ripe.

• Other fruit that work really well with this recipe are plums, and berries especially brambles (black berries). You can of course mix these with apples too.
• Try adding a little cinnamon to the apples as they cook for a variation on flavour.
• Serve with cream, custard or vanilla ice-cream.
• If you are wondering about the instruction to chop 2 of the apples finely and keep them aside, well, there are 2 reasons. Firstly, the fact that they go into the crumble raw means that they keep a little bit more crunch. And, the reason that I keep them in water with a little lemon is to stop them turning brown. You can of course chop them up at the last minute.
• If you keep the crumble topping a bit rough and ready, that is, not mix it too perfectly, leaving a couple of lumps of butter (not too much of course), you get a better result.



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