Crumble is the food I turn to when the evenings start getting darker and it starts getting cooler. The way the sweet, slightly tart fruit of choice bubbles and seeps through the crunchy, crumbly, biscuity top is a sure fire way to warm you from inside to out. What I love about crumble is that it's so versatile; the fruit is whatever fruit you can get your hands on.
I think that a person's crumble is as unique as their fingerprint. Some crumbles are like a great wave of shortbread on top of the fruit, some are all big and little bits scattered willy nilly all over the place, some add extra sugar on the top, some add nuts and some add oats. Whatever your crumble style, it's your own.
When I noticed some lovely damsons outside my local greengrocer I just had to have them - I'd run out of jam for one thing. They were crying out to be made into a crumble. As I didn't have that many of them I added an apple to make it go a bit further and add a little sweetness.
As much as damsons are worth the effort, getting the stones out is a bit of a pain. Nonetheless it had to be done and was successfully completed with a knife, perseverance and brute force. I had my pile of halved and stoned damsons and I had my chopped apple so I simmered them over a low heat with a little water and sugar until they were only just soft and the sweetness I wanted them to be. I know that putting the fruit in raw results in better texture but I didn't know what level of tartness I was dealing with, too much or too little sugar could have rendered it inedible so I played it safe.
Put the fruit into an oven proof dish and get the oven on at 190C. For the crumble, rub 175g flour into 75g butter until you've got lumps, breadcrumbs or whatever level of crumbliness suits you. Stir in 50g light muscovado or caster sugar and then put this on top of the damson apple mixture. I also threw some oats on top for good measure. Place in the oven and wait 45 minutes or until lusciously golden brown.
Just like the crumbliness of your crumble is rather personal, so is what you choose to serve the crumble with. Cream, custard or ice cream? If you go for cream is it single, double, Gold Top or clotted? If custard, ready made or home made? If ice cream should it be vanilla with or without vanilla seeds or should it be clotted cream ice cream? It's all very complicated and someone will always be upset no matter which you choose. I always opt for cream because I can stir it all together in the bowl and pretend I'm 8 years old again.
The crumble was absolutely fantastic. The damsons add such richness and gorgeous colour, the apple is just detectable in the background giving it a lovely homely feel. This crumble had extra caramelised bits on the edges of the dish and peeling them off and chewing them has to be one of the most enjoyable things there is. If you've not had damsons before or are unsure how to deal with them then I urge you to give this a try. Crumble is such a tried and tested favourite, how could it go wrong?
All That I'm Eating