Day 3: Apple and Walnut Crisp

8 Jan

As a kid, my sister, mother and I used to leave New York during school vacations and head home to England. When we visited my Granny, she’d often make jelly (Jello to Americans) and ice cream for us, but one of my favorite dishes she used to make was apple crumble. She’d spoon it onto plates and serve it with vanilla ice cream – the stuff was pretty bright yellow and came pressed into a brick, and wrapped inside a cardboard packet. She’d cut a slice of the ice cream (it was that consistency) and top the crumble with it. Then we’d sit at the table and chat as I mushed the ice cream into the crumble in my bowl. She has that special ability that so many people who are great with children have – beyond merely being kind, she doesn’t talk down to them. She would ask me about my life and genuinely care about the answer. The smell of apple and rhubarb crumbles baking in the oven will always signal to me a kind of coming-home-to-chat intimacy. And what talks we’d have in her sitting room, in that pea green room, overlooking her well-manicured little garden. Every time I make a crumble, I think of her.

Like so many desserts with humble beginnings, crumbles, crisps, cobblers, pan dowdies and slumps are all based around one main ingredient – fruit. This apple and walnut crisp replaces some of the bulk of the crumble topping (butter, flour, sugar) with oats and walnuts. Since butter and sugar were rationed, they had to be stretched as far as possible, so I’ve taken a traditional crisp and tweaked it a little to reflect that. I haven’t eaten sugar yet this week. My Granny used to pool the butter and sugar in their family when they wanted there to be a dessert other than fresh fruit. Since this meant no butter on their toast all week, it was a treat that demanded sacrifice…but dessert was well worth the wait!

Apple and Walnut Crisp

6 (small) Servings

INGREDIENTS
4 Granny Smith apples
4 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup uncooked oats
1/4 cup walnuts
5 tablespoons butter, ice cold and cut into small cubes

METHOD
Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Peel, core and large dice the apples. Toss with 1/2 tablespoon of the sugar in a small pot and warm through until the apples are luke warm to the touch. Put the apple pieces in 6 small ramekins. In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, oats and walnuts and mix until. Rub the butter cubes into the sugar and flour mixture until you achieve a crumbly texture with some small lumps of crumble mixture. Distribute the mixture evenly between the ramekins, spooning it on top of the apple. Put the ramekins in the oven and bake until the tops of the crumbles are golden brown. Watch them carefully as the walnuts may burn easily.

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One Response to “Day 3: Apple and Walnut Crisp”

  1. Vicky Sheppard January 12, 2012 at 10:13 pm #

    Your Granny (my mother) will be so happy to hear about your reminiscences). My favourite is her lemon meringue pie.

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