Autumn is definitely here in my corner of the world. The woods are slowly turning to gold, the air is getting crisper, and most importantly, i’m tracking roughly two tons of mud into the house on my boots after every dog walk.
One of the best things about this season is definitely the food. Darker, colder nights combined with forgiving, bulky wool jumpers all allow for justification to stuff our faces with plenty of hearty stews, cobblers, hashes, and soups (screw you, light and citrusy summer salad, your days are numbered. We want warm carbs!)
If you’re anything like my lot, Autumn means foraging. Digging through brambly hedgerows for blackberries, collecting conkers in their spiky little shells, and MOST importantly, scrumping. (apple picking for the uninitiated). My house backs onto plenty of apple-hunting grounds, so this blog is going to tell you what to do with this:
yup, it’s weekend, which means another super-basic food post, and this week i’m making
you will need:
- one Autumn. (if you cannot find an Autumn, a Fall will do in a pinch, if you are that way inclined)
- windfall apples (how many will depend on the varying sizes of the ones you find/pick.) You want the same amount as roughly six or seven regular size Granny Smiths
- 250g Caster Sugar
- 200g Plain Flour
- 120g Butter
- a couple of cloves
- either a cinnamon stick or around 1 tbsp ground cinnamon.
This whole endeavour takes about 1hr 30 mins (including prep and cool down time) but it’s a ridiculously simple but yummy thing to make.
Take all the skins off your apples. It doesnt matter if the skins are blemished or spotted, these are not supermarket apples, and i’m very much in favour of the ‘ugly fruit and veg’ movement. You’re not going to eat the skins anyway. as long as the flesh inside the apple is clean and firm, you’re good to go. get a paring knife and go Hellraiser on those cheeky pommes.
Core and pip them too, and throw all the chunks into a pan. If you’re not overly familiar with advanced apple science, you may note with alarm…or even bone-chilling fear…that as quick as you are peeling and chunking them, they are turning brown before your very eyes. This is perfectly normal apple behaviour. They’re just oxidizing. If you were making a fruit salad or other cold dish, and wanted to keep your apples green-white, this is easily achieved by dropping them into lemon juice, which stops the natural discolouring process. Here though, you’re going to cook them all imminently, so it makes no difference if they are brown, blue or rainbow speckled.
Once all your apple bits are in your pan, and the golden sunlight is streaming in through the window in a suitably satisfying autumnal manner, add three quarters of the caster sugar to the pan:
You can also add a couple of Cloves. (not too many because this is going to stew, and as I learned making mulled wine at Christmas, Cloves can be seriously overpowering. maybe about two, and remember to take them OUT again once the cooking is done, or they will keep flavouring the dish until you end up with a clovapocalpse. They look like this:
You can also drop a cinnamon stick in too. I preferred to use ground cinnamon, because I could mix it through as it cooked:
Your pan should now appear beautifully appletastic and contain every autumn colour, texture and smell in exisitence:
Try to make sure your chunks of apple are all roughly the samel size so that they cook at roughly the same rate, and DONT cut them too small or you’re just going to end up with applesauce. You need to let this stew on the hob GENTLY for about 30 minutes. You don’t need to add any water, the juices from the apples will release, nothing will burn, honest, as long as you stir it occasionally.
and when I say gently, I mean REALLY gently. super-lowest heat possibe:
after half an hour, in which you could a) write a sonnet b) watch Rick & Morty or c) organise your coloured pencils into an OCD rainbow (i did the last one) check the apples are cooked by mashing them a bit with a wooden spoon. They should be soft but not pureed.
Put them into the serving dish and leave to cool on a windowsill next to one or two loveable cartoon bluebirds. ( be careful to ensure the window isn’t open. If there is one thing life and cartoons have taught me, it’s that there is INVARIABLY a charming but cunning fox in a checkered waistcoat just waiting to make off with any home-baked goods left unattended on a windowsill. You have been duly warned)
While the filling is cooling, you can make the topping ( the crumble part)
and of course:
mix all the topping ingredients in a fresh mixing bowl:
and using your fingertips, rub it all together until it resembles breadcrumbs. (try to be as light as you can doing this. You don’t want to use all of your hand, as your palms are generally quite warm. Your fingertips are naturally cooler, being extremities, so you are literally tickling the ingredients until they comply. You can even make tickling noises as you do this if you choose to, although the fox in the waistcoat peering in the window may judge you rather demented if you do so.
It should end up looking like this:
When your apples are cooled, and you have preheated your oven to 150c, pour the crumble over the apples and spread evenly. (You want to do this JUST before you stick it in the oven. dont put the topping on and leave it for ages before cooking, or the crumble will sink in and go soggy, which is vile and dissapointing. when you put the topping on, it needs to cover the apples, but DONT push it down, or it will all mix underneath.
Now all you need to do is bake for around 30/40 minutes, and it’s done. Go by sight. You want it golden brown, with texture like sun, just like the song. Too pale and you’ve got Ghost Crumble. Too Orange and youve got Trump crumble.
spoon into dish and lose yourself in the heady and dizzying aromas of nommy nomminess:
You can serve this with Ice-Cream, double cream or whipped cream if you wish, but personally I have something of a vendetta against cold toppings on hot foods. This is supposed to be a cosy winter warmer, a crisp and spicy hug in a bowl, so I prefer to serve it with hot custard:
As always, drop me a message if you try this, and let me know how it turned out. Reccomended reading would be anything cosy, a little magical and autumnal, such as some Fae fantasy 🙂