My final baking experiment from last weekend was this apple crumble. I had a hankering for a warm dessert I could top with ice cream and there's nothing easier than putting together a crumble for a quick dessert. I've listed the original recipe below but, as usual, I did my own modifications. For the topping, I only made half a recipe and I substituted pecans for walnuts, partly because I think walnuts are too bitter and partly because I only had pecans on hand. For the filling, I only used Granny Smith apples because that's what I had and I don't really like pears anyway. Actually, now that I look at the recipe again, I didn't follow the filling recipe at all and just made up my own: to go with half the recipe of the topping, I used 2 Granny Smith apples (peeled, cored and sliced), sprinkled them with a couple of tablespoons of granulated sugar, a few sprinkles of cinnamon and the juice from 1 lemon.
At first I didn't think I liked this recipe as much as other crumbles, cobblers and crisps that I've made. It didn't seem to be sweet enough which made me think the oats and pecans cut the sweetness as well as I might've used too much lemon juice in the apples. Plus the apple filling didn't seem very juicy so it seemed a little dry. However, that was only the first taste test on the first day. This is a dessert that seems to improve with age. I had the second taste test the next day after refrigerating the individual crumbles - after I had warmed it up in the microwave and topped it with ice cream, it was much better, had a bit more juice and the apples were sweeter. I don't know why that is but that's what I found. So overall, this made a nice base for a scoop of vanilla ice cream to sit on.
¾ cup unsifted all-purpose flour
¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour
½ cup quick rolled oats
½ cup walnuts
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup lightly packed light brown sugar
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2/3 to ¾ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 Cortland apples (or Empire, Macoun or Granny Smith)
4 firm Red Bartlett or Anjou pears
1 ½ cups fresh cranberries, washed and dried
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
½ cup granulated sugar
1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated navel or Valencia orange zest
1. Preheat the oven to 350⁰F. Position the oven rack in the lower third of the oven. Butter generously a 7 x 11 x 1 ½” ovenproof glass baking dish.
2. Make the topping: Place the flours, oats, walnuts, sugars, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse until blended and the nuts are finely chopped. Empty the contents into a large bowl.
3. Pour the melted butter over the flour mixture and toss with a fork to form crumbs. Set aside.
4. Prepare the fruit: Cut the apples into quarters, core, peel and cut into ¾-inch thick pieces. If using apples other than Cortlands, cut into 1/2-inch pieces.
5. Cut the pears in half, core, peel and cut into 1-inch chunks.
6. Place the apples, pears and cranberries in a large bowl. Drizzle with the lemon juice. Combine sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and orange zest. Sprinkle over the fruit, then shake the bowl to distribute. Empty the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the fruit. Do not press.