Winter wonders: Best ever classic apple crumble recipe

Living Well | Tianna Nadalin | Posted on 21 July 2020

You’ll be the apple of everyone’s eye when you dish up this delicious apple crumble.

When it comes to winter comfort foods, is there anything better than a bowl of gooey, caramelised apple crumble? With its warm, cinnamon-spiced filling and crunchy, butter-and-brown-sugar topping, it’s easy to see why this classic apple treat is still an absolute crowd pleaser. And to top it all off, this spiced apple crumble recipe from RACV Cape Schanck Resort’s head pastry chef Shannon Thirumal is a not only a cinch to make, but also a winning dessert option when you’re pressed for time. So if you’ve been meaning to use up some of those wrinkly apples that haven’t made it into the kids’ lunchboxes, this chef-approved apple crumble is delicious, easy, and practically guaranteed to be a hit at your next dinner party. Just add ice-cream et voila, you’ve got the perfect sweet winter warmer.

Piece of apple crumble on a plate


Tips for making the best-ever apple crumble 


Which apples are best? 

This depends on your palate. If you’re a bit of a tart (apple fan, that is), then granny smiths are the way to go. As well as giving your crumble a beautiful zing, they tend to hold up better through the baking process rather than disintegrating into mush. For apples that still have that tart edge, but with a little sweetness, jazz apples are sure to, well, jazz up your dessert. Pink ladies are also a solid option. They’re crisp and sweet but not sickly. Something more mellow? Try golden delicious. And you know what they say – variety is the spice of life – so you could even try combining a few different apples to find your signature flavour. 

Can you use old apples? 

If you’ve got a few old apples in the fruit bowl, making apple crumble is an easy way to help them disappear. But be mindful that older apples can become mushy when baked and you could end up with more of an apple sauce than a chunky filling. The trick? Make sure you add a couple of fresh apples into the mix to give your filling a firmer consistency.  

Do I have to peel the apples? 

It’s no secret that an apple’s peel is where all the good bits are, but this is totally down to personal preference. For a more rustic result, or if you’re super pressed for time, unpeeled apples will give your crumble extra texture, flavour and, if you use a red variety, a pop of colour. Tip: if you want to be really sneaky, peel the apples then add the peel to a stick blender with some of the apple flesh and puree it. That way you get the best of both worlds – extra taste and nutrition, without the risk of crunchy bits.  

Slice or dice?  

Want to know what’s more important than how you slice apples for crumble? The size. Keeping your slices or dices consistent is key to ensuring even cooking, rather than a mix of crunchy and mushy apple pieces.  

To press or not to press, that’s the question 

Last, but not least, the crumble. Do you sprinkle it gently on top or pack it in? If you like your topping crispy, pressing it down lightly is the way to go. This also helps to trap the air in the filling, which gives more caramelised, gooey apple. If you like your crumble more granola-like, with crunchy buttery bits, then go the gentle sprinkle.   

Can I make it ahead? 

Apple crumble is one of those great dishes that can easily be prepared the day before and baked just before you’re ready to eat it.   

Can I make it gluten free? 

You sure can, just swap the plain flour for brown rice flour. 

Apple crumble in ramekin
Apple crumble
Scoop of ice cream


Shannon’s best-ever classic apple crumble  


Cooking time: 1 hour 30 minutes | Serves 6 to 8 

Ingredients 

Crumble  

  • 95 grams brown sugar 
  • 75 grams white granulated sugar 
  • 320 grams plain flour 
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt 
  • 2/3 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 2/3 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • 230 grams butter 
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey 

Caramelised apples   

  • 7 granny smith apples  
  • 300 grams white sugar  
  • 180 grams butter  
  • 1 cinnamon stick  
  • 3 cloves  

Method  

  1. Preheat oven to 180C. 
  2. Start with the crumble. Place all the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix together. Then add the cold cubed butter and rub with your fingertips to form a sand-like texture. 
  3. Once all is incorporated, spread on a tray and drizzle the honey on top.  
  4. Bake at 180C for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. While the crumble is cooking you can prepare the apples.   
  5. Peel and core the apples, cut into wedges and set aside. 
  6. Place a heavy-based saucepan on a medium heat to warm. When warm add the sugar, two tablespoons at a time. As the sugar melts add more and stir until incorporated. Once all the sugar has been added to the pan let it come to a dark caramel colour. Now add the butter and mix to combine. 
  7. Add the apples and spices, give it a stir, place a lid on the saucepan and turn the heat down to low. Let it stew for 20 minutes. 
  8. When the lid is removed the apples should be cooked but still holding their shape. If not, cool a little longer, leaving the lid off. When ready, transfer apples to an oven-safe deep dish and spread out evenly. Remove and discard the cinnamon and cloves.  
  9. Spread the crumble onto the apples. Put the dish back in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until the crumble has developed some colour.  
  10. Serve warm with vanilla or salted caramel ice-cream.  
     


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