Cinnamon Apple Crumble

I am not embarrassed to admit that I enjoy a Snowball at Christmas, so every year we buy a bottle of Advocaat, and every year I get around to having approximately 1 glass of festive loveliness!  The sad side effect is that it has become a new year ritual to throw away the leftover open bottle, and as I have said more than once… I hate waste!  In fact I hate waste so much, I have added a new foodie challenge to the list – ‘No waste’!

This year I sat holding the condemned bottle, sadly pondering the need to discard so much festive cheer, and decided to overturn its sentence.  I found a recipe for eggnog cake which sorted out half the bottle, and invented my very own Egg(nog) custard tart.  It seemed like an exceptionally good idea at the time, however in my desire to not waste a drop, I was rather heavy handed with the Advocaat and it was far too strong to eat.  I froze it anyway, hoping it might improve on defrosting and figuring it would do for Sunday teas.  I was wrong… it did not improve on defrosting, in fact I am pretty sure that the alcohol had strengthened twofold!  In the end I whipped up a batch of vanilla ice cream, chopped up the frozen eggnog tart and the last of the mince pies and chucked them in.  I have to admit Eggnog tart and mince pie ice cream is a thing of beauty, and one I am going to have to try and replicate for you at a later date.

The actual point to this story is that I used up my stash of Sunday puddings and was forced, FORCED I tell you, to roll up my sleeves to restock the freezer.  I decided to make one of my favourite puds… Apple Crumble.

I love crumble, I have often considered just having the crumble topping, but even I can’t justify that.  Instead I double the topping so there is plenty of crumble for every portion, if you are not quite such a crumble fan, you should half the topping quantity. I also like my apple quite sharp, so taste and adjust according to your own tastes.

Cinnamon Apple Crumble

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Firstly peel and chop a pile of cooking apples.  I ended up with 1kg of prepared apple.  As you are peeling and chopping toss the apple in a little water and lemon juice to prevent it from browning.  Measure out 100g of granulated sugar and mix in 1 tsp of ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground ginger and 1/2 tsp ground mixed spice.

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Put the apple, spiced sugar and 100ml of water into a saucepan and cook gently until you reach your desired consistency.  I like mainly mushy with some chunks of apple.  Taste at this point, and if you prefer it sweeter  then mix in additional sugar and cook until its fully dissolved.

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Measure out 150g rolled oats, 150g Plain flour, 1 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 tsp mixed spice into a bowl.  Mix well then start rubbing in 150g of butter.  At this point, realise you have forgotten the 150g golden caster sugar and throw it in.  Continue rubbing in until well mixed and the mixture starts clumping together.

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Next find a nice big dish and pour in the apple mixture, then sprinkle 100g sultanas over the top, and mix well.  Yes it would be far easier to mix the sultanas into the apple first, but I didn’t so I am going to have to go with it and hope you don’t work out I was a muppet!

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Sprinkle over the crumble topping and press down lightly.  Bake on 170c (fan) for 1 hour or until the top is a nice golden brown.  Whilst the crumble is baking, go on a hunt for a missing 500g block of cheese and identify the culprit! Does Maisie look guilty as sin or what!

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This made 8 very good sized portions to scale up and down as you see fit.  Serve warm with a scoop of homemade ice cream and enjoy!

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Cinnamon Apple Crumble

Apple Mixture
1kg peeled and chopped cooking apple
100g granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp mixed spice
100ml water
Crumble Topping
150g rolled oats
150g plain flour
150g golden caster sugar
150g butter
100g sultanas

-Put the apple, sugar, spices and water in a pan and cook gently until 
soft stirring occasionally.
-Mix the flour, oats, spices and sugar in a bowl and rub in the butter 
until the mixture starts clumping together.
-Mix the sultanas into the apple mixture, and spread evenly into a large 
ovenproof dish
-Sprinkle over the crumble topping and press down lightly
-Bake on 170c fan for about an hour, or until the topping is a nice 
golden brown.

 

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Paul Hollywood’s Barm Cakes

Foodie challenge number 4 is all about not buying anything I can make myself, so many years ago I invested in a bread maker.  It was used extensively when the girls still lived at home, although none of our waistlines benefitted as it is really really hard to cut a thin slice off a freshly baked loaf!  Well that was our excuse and we stuck to it!  Although we all enjoyed the bread from the breadmaker, I started running into problems with it not mixing properly and the loaf welding itself to the tin, compounded by the loss of half of the recipe book after Maisie chewed it up when she was a puppy!  (This is not a photo of the actual demise of the recipe book, but is evidence of young Maisies rather destructive tendencies!)

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Anyhow, I decided not to replace the aged breadmaker like for like and instead the hubby bought me a Kenwood Major Titanium mixer (now named Major Ken) so I could make bread myself from scratch, opening up a world of flavour and shape options I had never tried with the machine.  I should point out that due to ridiculously weak wrists I can not knead for more than about a minute at a time, so a mechanical aid for the kneading is a necessity, not me being totally idle 🙂  Inconveniently, at this point the girls left home, Steve’s frequency of travel increased and I found myself throwing away a lot of my lovely bread as without all the artificial additives to extend its lifespan I wasn’t able to eat it all before it went stale. I considered making the loaf, slicing it and freezing the slices then had a brain wave and realised making rolls would be easier.  My hunt for the perfect roll began and after trying out a number of different recipes I settled on Paul Hollywood’s Barm Cakes.  Lovely soft white rolls which freeze well, defrost in 30 seconds and taste great.  I make up a batch or two, stuff them in freezer bags, take out what I need when I need it and have not had to throw away a single crumb of bread again!  Total win!

You can find the full recipe for the Barm Cakes in Paul Hollywood’s How to Bake Book

Paul Hollywood’s Barm Cakes

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Gather your ingredients together, you will need strong white bread flour, salt, yeast, caster sugar, butter and water.  I use lighter anchor spreadable butter and it seems to work fine whilst slightly reducing the fat and calorie values for a roll!

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Pour the water in the mixer, then add the other ingredients, ensuring you keep the salt and yeast apart, then I set Major Ken off to do the hard work for me.

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I have spent many hours trawling books and the internet for a single clear way to known when I have a)kneaded enough b)risen enough.  You would think it would be easy to find out wouldn’t you, but every where I look I get slightly different advice.  I have settled on the answer to a) being when the dough is nicely elastic when I give it a tug, i.e it doesn’t rip. If I am being really good I try the gluten window test, where you stretch a small bit of dough between your fingers to see if you can see light through it without it ripping. After all, this stage is all about developing the gluten, which is what will give the bread a hopefully light and airy texture.

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I do find using Major Ken the dough doesn’t look perfectly smooth when I remove it from the bowl, but a couple of seconds kneading on the work top sorts that out and I end up with a nice looking ball of dough that is smooth, elastic, holds its shape and is ready to rise.

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Cover the bowl and sit back to drink tea and chat to the visiting daughter, who has taken it upon herself to buy Maisie every squeaky toy she can find!IMG_2254IMG_2255IMG_2223

After a couple of hours of chatting and squeaking, the dough has doubled in size and I think is ready for the next stage.  So what is the answer to b) have I risen enough?

Here is a great opportunity to introduce my Encyclopaedia of Kitchen Science McGee on Food & Cooking. This is a super reference book that explains the science behind nearly everything cooking related.  I requested it one birthday in the hope that understanding what is happening when I cook or bake, would make me a better cook and baker!  Not sure its helped that much, but at least now I understand whats gone wrong, even if I don’t have the intuition and skills to prevent or correct it 🙂  McGee describes the rising phase as fermentation, where the yeast cells produce carbon dioxide which causes the dough to rise, stretching the gluten strands.  Rising is finished when you can poke your finger into the dough and it does not spring back, showing that the gluten has been stretched to its limit.

Tip it out and fold it in on itself a number of times to knock out the air, then divide into equal sized portions. (I’m doing a double batch here which is why there is 24!)

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Roll each portion into a smooth ball and leave to rest for about 30 minutes, then roll them out until they are about twice their original diameter.  Place each roll on a lined baking tray and shake a little flour over the tops.  Cover and leave to prove until doubled in size or they spring back quickly when you prod them lightly with a finger.  This confused me initially, why do you not wait until the gluten has fully stretched again?  DOH!  Quite obvious when you think about it, the bread will rise in the oven, so there still needs to be some elasticity in the gluten when it goes in!

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10 minutes later (having confiscated the squeaky yellow toy), we have a lovely batch of Barm Cakes, ready to cool and freeze or eat whilst still warm with a nice dollop of butter.  YUM!

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Nutritional info per roll (based on My Fitness Pal) – Kcals: 166, Protein:6g, Carbs: 32g, Fat:2g

Bread making may have the image of being difficult, but these really are very easy to make.  Once you have the answers to a) and b) you can produce batches of very tasty soft bread rolls time and time again without any issues, and with the added bonus of no more wasted bread.  My apologies to the birds who are missing out on stale crumbs!