Apples are a firm British favourite and deservedly so.
Apples are a firm British favourite and deservedly so. I couldn’t resist creating a traditional recipe this week in the shape of a humble apple-and-blackberry crumble. I wanted to elevate it to something a little smarter than your average crumble, so added shortcrust pastry details, which I believe means it’s actually a crumble pie.
Apple and blackberry crumble pie with amaretti ice cream (serves 8)
For the shortcrust dough
125g butter, cold
30g caster sugar
Pinch of salt
3tbspn ice water
For the crumble
175g plain flour
50g ground almonds
5 amaretti biscuits
600g apples, peeled, cored and chopped
50g muscovado sugar
25g butter for greasing
1 free range egg, beaten
1.75 pints (1 litre) vanilla ice cream
2fl oz (50ml) amaretto (or more if a stronger you like flavour)
Make the dough in a food processor by pulsing all the dry ingredients and the butter until they come together. If not using a processor, rub them together in a large bowl with your fingertips, then add the water a little at a time and tip the dough out onto a clean surface. Bring together (do not knead) into a flat disc, wrap it in clingfilm and refrigerate it for a few hours or overnight.
Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200 ̊C/ 400 ̊F/gas mark 6 and set to work on the crumble mixture. If using a processor, pulse the ingredients until they look like breadcrumbs. Otherwise, put the amaretti biscuits in a freezer bag and smash them to crumbs with a rolling pin, then rub them together with the remaining ingredients, using your fingertips, and set aside until ready to use.
Cut each peeled and cored apple into eighths and cook in a saucepan with a splash of water and the muscovado sugar (its molasses content makes it taste of caramel) over a medium heat until the apple pieces are starting to soften and the sugar has dissolved.
Butter a 10in-diameter dish, tip in the apples with their syrup, scatter the blackberries over the top and arrange everything as evenly as possible to create a flat surface. Next, distribute the crumble mixture over the entire surface of the fruit, using a spoon to spread it out, then set aside.
Take the shortcrust-pastry dough out of the fridge and roll it out to the thickness of a £1 coin. Use cookie cutters to cut out leaves and flowers and make strips to plait, then arrange them on top of the crumble. Pop the crumble/pie in the freezer for 15 minutes before cooking to avoid shrinkage, then, just before baking, brush the pastry dough with beaten egg and cook it in the oven for about an hour or until the top is nicely browned.
When you’re ready for pudding, allow the ice cream to become a little soft, then stir the amaretto through it before putting it back into the freezer. I like to scoop the ice cream into balls before anyone arrives and put them back in the freezer, so that you have everything ready as soon as you serve the crumble/pie, piping hot with ice cream melting all over it.
More ways with apples
Apple-and-Cheddar salad with almond-cream dressing (left)
To make the dressing, soak 100g almonds in 100ml water overnight, drain, then place the nuts in a processor with the juice of two lemons, 30ml maple syrup, a pinch of salt, chopped basil leaves and seasoning. Process to a purée, then trickle about 150ml olive in, adding a little water if it’s too thick. Halve and core 2 apples, cut into thin slices and mix in a medium-sized bowl with 100g Cheddar, cut into either small cubes or shavings, a couple of handfuls of salad leaves and 30g chopped almonds (that haven’t been soaked). Drizzle with a little olive oil, a squeeze of lemon and toss. To serve, pour the almond-cream dressing into a circle on four plates and spoon the salad into the centre.
The vicar’s tea cake: apple and cinnamon
Cream 100g butter with 200g caster sugar, add an egg, 1 tspn vanilla-bean paste, a pinch of salt and mix well. Next, alternate bet- ween adding 185g self-raising flour and 150ml milk, being sure to start and end with flour. Pour the mixture into a well-greased 10in- diameter cake tin and arrange 2 cored, peeled and sliced apples in circles on top of the cake mixture. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of brown sugar and a dusting of cinnamon on top, then bake in a moderately hot oven for about an hour or until a fork comes out clean. Serve warm with another sprinkling of sugar and whipped cream. The vicar will certainly require more tea.
Autumn crush: apple-and- ginger juice
Blitz 4 chopped apples and a generous piece of ginger in a juicer or a NutriBullet. Divide the juice between four tall glasses, muddled with crushed ice and fresh mint, and top up with soda water. A measure of vodka in each glass wouldn’t go amiss either!
This recipe makes the lightest and fluffiest doughnuts that our kitchen garden cook has ever tasted.