Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Egypt: Karnak, originally uploaded by Brooklyn Museum.

Crumble (verb): break or fall into small fragments; gradually disintegrate.

At times in life, things seem to crumble. One's hopes and dreams, relationships, careers, one's health, houses, old treasures such as letters and timber items.

Crumble (noun): dish of stewed fruit with a crumbly topping.

At times in life, one needs crumble. Preferably made with apples or rhubarb. Or dotted with blueberries. Or sprinkled with almonds and dried apricot pieces. Or made with pears and strips of orange zest. And swimming with custard. Even served in little tea cups. Or spooned out from a big bowl. Mmm, crumble.

This crumble was made for a dinner we had over the weekend. I slow cooked a chicken, lemon and garlic dish, as well as roasted potatoes in the oven. Things were timed to perfection, with minimal fuss at the last minutes. But then the guests were late, around 45 minutes late. So the meal was dry and lacking in lusciousness. Hurrah for the crumble, the dish that saved dinner. As my culinary prowess crumbled around me, the crumble won hearts...

Typically I would make my crumble using sugar syrup to poach the fruit in. This method instead cooks the apples in butter, ensuring they maintain some texture as well as their shape. The port adds depth of flavour and is beautifully enhanced by the sourness of the berries. The crumble topping is how I make crumble, with lots of texture and taste. None of this breadcrumb only crumble for me please.

Apple, Raspberry & Port Crumble
Serves 6 to 8 with custard and ice cream.

20 g butter
6 apples, peeled, cored & diced into medium pieces
300 g frozen raspberries, slightly defrosted
300 ml port
185 g sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon

Crumble topping:
60 g butter, softened
½ c. plain flour
½ c. raw sugar
½ c. oats
½ c. desiccated coconut

Pre-heat your oven to 180 ◦C.

Over a medium heat, melt butter in a large saucepan. Add the apple pieces. Stir well and cook for around 10 minutes until softened. Add the raspberries, port, sugar and cinnamon. Cover and cook for 8 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, remove fruit from the cooking liquid and transfer to a suitable round cooking dish. Continue to cook the liquid uncovered until it reduces to a syrup-like consistency. This may take up to 10 minutes. Stir it occasionally to ensure it does not catch and burn on the bottom. Pour this liquid over the fruit.

Make the crumble topping by combining all the ingredients. Mix it together well, rubbing the butter into the other ingredients. It is messy, but easy to do with your hands. The mixture should be chunky rather than sticky, getting towards being like breadcrumbs but not smooth. Crumble the topping over the fruit.

Bake in the oven for 35 minutes, until golden in parts.

Serve hot with ice cream, warm with custard or even cold with yoghurt for breakfast the next day.

Adapted from Delicious magazine August 2007.

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