Hello January. My last recipe was a healthy salad option. This is a decadent and delicious crumble. Absolutely packed with warming buttery goodness. As you might be able to tell, I don’t really go in for the whole health kick January thing. Yes, some post-Christmas moderation is absolutely fine, if that’s what you want to do to feel better in yourself. But cutting out entire food groups is the road to sadness. January is hard enough for us all without ditching stuff that can bring us pleasure. I plan to spend January eating plenty of tasty homemade food, and that will include salads and soups and stews and fish, but also crumbles and brownies and pie. Because I’m a realist (about this, anyway).

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Also, I love crumble. Humble crumble is an underrated dessert. But god, it’s just so delicious. And easy. And adaptable. This week I am bringing you this classic apple crumble number with a caramel and calvados twist. Next week, I am going to bring you a completely different crumble recipe. It will use the exact same proportions and method, but I’ll tweak the ingredients to make a different dish.

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As I write this, it’s flat and grey outside. The trees are bare. It’s pouring with rain. The cat is bored and fed up of hanging out with me, but doesn’t want to leave because the weather is so grim, so she’s just giving me evil looks as if I am the one who has ruined the outside world. This is the morning that most people have gone back to work – as, indeed, have I, but I get to do the work from my living room. This month can be rough on us all, so let’s try to be kind to ourselves and each other. For instance, I am going to continue to lavish affection on the cat, even though she keeps sitting on the keyboard while I am trying to type because she’s cross that I’m working instead of playing with her. Baby steps.

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Notes

Once you have the basic proportions and method down, you can do a million different things with a crumble recipe. I’ll give you another example next week. Because I care about you all.

This will make 6-8 portions. I am not saying it will feed 6-8 people, because we can happily polish this off between the two of us. Not in one sitting. I think crumble makes a great breakfast.

Ingredients

For the crumble topping

240g plain flour
120g golden caster sugar
130g cold butter, cut into pieces
100g hazelnuts, blitzed in food processor or finely chopped

For the base

200g sultanas
100ml calvados (or brandy of your choice, or feel free to skip the alcohol)
6 medium eating apples
70g unsalted butter
70g light brown soft brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
100g caramel (homemade or from a jar)

Cream or ice cream, to serve

Method

  1. Pop the sultanas and the calvados in a bowl together so the sultanas can absorb some of the alcohol.
  2. Heat your oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Tip the flour and sugar into a large bowl. Add the butter, then rub into the flour with your fingers until you reach breadcrumb texture. Stir in the hazelnuts. Spread the crumble evenly over a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, or until lightly coloured.
  3. Meanwhile, peel, core and cut the apples into chunks. Put the butter and sugar in a large saucepan and melt together over a medium heat. Cook for a couple of minutes until everything is dissolved, and the mixture is a caramel colour. Stir in the apples, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the sultanas, any remaining alcohol that hasn’t been absorbed, and cinnamon, and cook for 5 minutes more. Tip the mixture into your chosen crumble dish. Dot it with spoonfuls of the caramel.
  4. Top the fruit with your crumble. Cook the whole thing in the oven for around 15 minutes, or until hot through, golden, and bubbling. Serve with cream or ice cream.