The first thing I learnt to cook and started making by myself was apple crumble. When I was about 12 or 13 my mum deemed it time to learn to make “puddings”, as they are properly called, and so, after much rereading of Mrs Beeton’s Everyday Cookery I finally made my first apple crumble. It was nothing special to say the least but I quickly progressed onto sponges and fairy cakes and soon mother dear was proclaiming me a natural. As good gardeners have green thumbs, so she declared that I had the cook’s equivalent: sticky fingers. It’s a fitting term I think. Sticky fingers; diving into recipes which are overly ambitious and have little chance of success, just to say they have been attempted. Sticky fingers; getting flour all over the bench, and down one’s shirt as well. Sticky fingers; licking the bowl clean once everything’s in the oven. And of course, sticky fingers are genetic. Mother was convinced my sticky fingers were inherited, not so much from her as my great-grandmother, great and wise old woman that she was and a magnificent chef to boot. I kind of liked that idea at age 12, and still like it now.
Since then my crumbles have improved and indeed changed a lot. They are the simplest, and most readily adaptable of dessert I believe. But, in such humble beginnings, greatness lies. A great crumble, a great dessert, a great cook. Not to say I’m a great cook, far from it, but everyone has to start somewhere.
Peach and blueberry crumble
As a new food blogger I try to credit recipes where credit is due, yet since I learned Mrs Beeton’s ratio for crumbles (1 fat:2 flour:1 sugar) by heart, I have never used a formal recipe for crumble, instead preferring to play around with different ingredients myself. In this case since I am using peaches and blueberries instead of apples, and have changed the ratios and types of flour slightly as well, I can fairly call this “my” recipe (according to David Lebovitz’s exceedingly helpful article, if you change 3 or more ingredients you can usually safely say that a recipe is “yours”). Of course, crumbles are so ubiquitious I’d be surprised if there isn’t a recipe for peach-blueberry crumble somewhere out there on the web already, but here is my take on it. I have in fact changed the ratio of flour to fat slightly, finding gluten-free flours slightly finer than the wholewheat flour I used to work with as a teen, and so have upped the flour slightly. Also since ground almonds are fairly rich in fat, more are needed as a substitute for the flour. They can of course be switched out for flour, or indeed oats/buckwheat groats/anything else that springs to mind if you fancy. As for the fruit, the only limit is your imagination. The peach and blueberry combo did work surprisingly well though, nice and sweet, but not overly so. If the peaches are a little sour, a sprinkle of sugar may be in order.
50g butter, cut into small cubes
80g gluten-free flour blend
40g ground almonds
100g caster sugar
2 ripe peaches
1. Turn on the oven to 180 C.
2. In a large mixing bowl rub the flour and almonds into the butter until you have a mixture that resembles fine breadcrumbs (definitely a situation that lends itself to sticky fingers, if ever there was one). Add the sugar and rub that in to the mixture for a minute or so until it’s well mixed. Set aside.
3. Stone your peaches and cut into thin slices (about 1/2″ in width). I left the skin on, the peaches will break down more in the oven if you peel them – entirely up to you. Put the peaches in the bottom of a small baking dish, (I chose a small oval one about 4×6″) and put the blueberries in on top.
4. Sprinkle the crumble on top of the fruit and distribute evenly with your fingers. Put the crumble in the oven and cook for 40 minutes or until starting to go very lightly brown on top. If you want it a little browner, finish off under the grill for a couple of minutes.
Serves 2 greedy people, or 3 slightly less greedy people. No idea how well it keeps as it was all wolfed down in one sitting.