Okay, it’s two days after Christmas and you’re just plain cooked out. You’re still eating leftovers, and may be for another week. Maybe you’re even pizza-ed out too.
But I want comfort food, and that usually means dessert, and particularly one with apples. No, not a pie, with those pesky crusts, which I still can’t make. I want a crisp, a slump, a grunt, a Brown Betty, or call it what you will. Often in Ireland and the UK it’s called a crumble. I kind of like that. I know, you’ve seen a million of these, but there’s always room for one more, right?
|A Bramley apple--it must have weighed a pound|
I think I decided on this recipe because I wanted to share with you the picture of a single Bramley apple that I bought (and used!) in Ireland recently. I like Bramleys, the green cooking apple used in a lot of English and Irish cooking. It’s nicely tart and it holds its shape in cooking. And if you use big ones, you don’t have to peel so many.
Except I couldn’t find a recipe. I found many that had the same basic ingredients for the topping: cold butter, flour, cinnamon, often oats and/or chopped walnuts. All tasty, I’m sure, but not what I wanted.
So I improvised: first, I reduced that megalithic brown bread to medium-size crumbs (in a food processor). Then I segued to the typical recipe and where you mix the crumble part with your fingers with brown sugar and butter. Cinnamon if you’re in the mood.
The fruit bit. Take some apples, peel and slice or chop into chunks. Toss with sugar, flour and cinnamon. Place in a buttered casserole dish, then sprinkle the aforesaid crumble over them. Bake.
In a fit of optimism I bought two pounds of fresh cranberries a while ago (we live a mile from the nearest cranberry bog) but never used them, since we were a couple of thousand miles away on Thanksgiving. They’re hanging in there, so I threw in a cup or two of those too. If you do, increase the amount of sugar in the fruit mixture, since the cranberries are a bit sour. It's up to you. If the result is still too tart, add sweetened whipped cream at the end.
|Fresh local cranberries|
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Generously butter a 2-quart casserole or baking dish.
2 pounds cooking apples (greenings, granny smiths, or whatever you have—I used Cortlands and Northern Spys from my own trees!)
|Two pounds of my own apples|
1/2 cup white sugar
1 Tblsp white flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
1/2 pound fresh cranberries (optional)
In a large bowl, toss the ingredients to cover the fruit pieces, then transfer to the baking dish.
2 cups (brown) bread crumbs, (if you’re not using crumbs, substitute rolled oats and/or chopped walnuts)
4 oz/1 stick cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup brown sugar, packed
¾ cup white flour
½ tsp cinnamon
Mix all the ingredients together with your fingers—the mixture will be chunky. Sprinkle it over the fruit.
|Ready for the oven|
Bake in the preheated oven for about 30-40 minutes, or until the juices bubble around the edges and the top is nicely browned. Serve with whipped cream, ice cream, or whatever you like.
|And ready to eat!|
And may 2014 be filled with wonderful things for you.