When I was a kid my mother's culinary speciality, in my opinion, was dessert. She was raised on the Common Sense Cookery Book, which featured such traditional delights as bread and butter pudding, cottage pudding and baked custard. There were also travesties like junket, tapioca pudding and sago pudding amongst her repertoire, which I refused to eat point blank. Blech!
But my favourite of all was apple crumble. There is something altogether comforting about the fragrance of fresh Granny Smith apples, their green skin peeled off in one continuous snake-like coil, sliced, cored then tossed into a pot to stew with three or four whole cloves.
Indeed apple crumble holds a special place in other people's hearts too, as I discovered one time at a dinner party I held a couple of years ago. It was my grandest effort ever - dinner for nine, with chocolate almond cake as dessert. Only my best friend, Jeannette doesn't eat chocolate. So I made a single-size apple crumble especially for her, and brought it out with the first two servings of chocolate almond cake. My guests became positively overcome with excitement when they spotted the lone apple crumble.
"I know how this works!" one of them squealed. "It goes, cake, crumble, cake, then I'm getting the next crumble!"
I was mortified! The chocolate almond cake was my piece de resitance! Seated in a white plate, decorated with strawberry coulis and finished with a dob of clotted cream, I couldn't understand why anybody would want apple crumble instead of my wonderful creation! When I said there was only one apple crumble, everyone thought I was joking. How could I make just one, they demanded? Easy, I told them. As a single woman, I knew how to make a world of food in individual serves.
I served them all the bloody chocolate cake, which they ate, and begrudgingly enjoyed. But I know deep down inside they were wishing it was apple crumble.
4 Granny Smith green apples, peeled, cored, sliced into 16ths
two whole cloves
1/2 cup coconut
1/4 cup brown sugar
1.5 cup self raising flour
1. Place the apple slices and cloves in a pot and cover with water. Bring to boil on stovetop, then simmer until apples are soft (about three minutes). Do not over stew or apple pieces will turn to mush!
2. Drain excess water from apples and transfer to a baking dish. Preheat the oven to 18 degrees Celsius.
3. In a mixing bowl, combine coconut, brown sugar and self raising flour.
4. Melt butter in microwave oven (should take no more than 45 seconds on high). Add butter to coconut, sugar and flour then stir with a fork until all ingredients are moistened and mixture appears crumbly. Spoon onto top of stewed apples.
5. Bake uncovered in oven for approximately 20 minutes or until crumble is lightly browned on the top. When a delicious smell of caramel wafts through your kitchen, that's usually when the crumble is perfectly cooked.
6. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Serve in dishes with icecream or whipped cream (or both!).
Note: there are many variations of crumble that are equally as good as this one. I tend to make a 1.5 size batch of crumble because the more crumble the better. You can exchange rollled oats in place of the coconut (or keep the coconut too and add a little extra butter). You can also add a teaspoon of ground cloves to the crumble mix, which my mother tells me is absolutely heavenly.