Thursday, 27 May 2010

Crisp or Crumble?

It's rhubarb season here in England. I know, because Dorothy from the sewing group keeps bringing in large bags full of it and, unable to resist 'free food', I usually grab a handfull. In keeping with my resolution to do more baking and with a need to finish off the rest of the blackberries in the freezer before the next picking season, I started scanning cookbooks for recipes.

I was was very pleased to find a 'universal' recipe in Ella's cookbook (The Best of Good Housekeeping, 1973), in that it made suggestions for fruit to use, but whatever you have on hand could be used, barring maybe melon or something.  Universal recipes are, to my mind, one of the more frugal approaches to cooking, ie use what you already have, don't go out and buy specific ingredients.

Fruit Crumble
1 1/2 lb raw fruit (apples, plums)
3 oz. margarine
6 oz. plain flour
3 oz. caster sugar (regular granulated sugar, far as I know) 

Oven temperature:  fairly hot (400 degrees F., mark 6)

Prepared the fruit as for stewing and put it in an oven-proof dish.  Rub the fat into the flour until the mixture is the texture of fine crumbs; stir in the sugar.  Springle the mixture on top of the prepared fruit and bake in the centre of the oven for 30-40 minutes.  Alternatively, stew the fruit before putting it in the dish and bake for 20-30 minutes.  Serve with custard or cream.

1.  Add 1 level tsp. powdered cinnamon, mixed spice or ginger to the flour before rubbing in the fat.
2.  Add 2 oz. chopped crystallised ginger to the crumb mixture before sprinkling it over the prapred fruit.
3.  Add the gratted rind of an orange or lemon to the crumb mixture, etc.

I made this a while back with rhubarb and blackberries and it was nice, but a bit tart for me.  Bill like this cold.  I prefer it hot and I pour skimmed milk over it, not cream (though I do love custard...).

My Betty Crocker's Cookbook (1987) has a recipe for 

Apple Crisp
 4 cups sliced tart apples (about 4 medium)
2/3 to 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup oats
1/3 cup margarine or butter, softened
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

Heat oven to 375 F.  Arrange apples in greased square pan, 8x8x2 inches.  Mix remaining ingredients; sprinkle over apples.  

Bake until topping is golden brown and apples are tender, about 30 minutes.  Serve warm and, if desired, with cream or ice cream.  6 servings; 295 calories per serving.

There are variations for apricots, cherries, peaches or pineapple.  I made this the other day with 1/2 Bramley (cooking) apples and half blackberries.

The next time I went to use up the blackberries, I discovered they were all gone and I tried an experiment (I love experiments in the kitchen!).  I used the rest of an apple from the last batch, a peelled and chopped orange and filled in the rest of the fruit allocation with rhubarb.  Then I doubled the amounts for the fat, flour and sugar for the fruit crumble.  That turned out very well, though I probably don't want to know the calorie count!  I doubt I'll be making these every week, but it's great to have another 'universal' recipe on hand!


Frugal Scholar said...

Mr. FS and I used to buy apples from an orchard and make crisps all the time. Then we realized we were polishing off a stick of butter per crisp. So good though.

I think there are also slumps!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the recipes. Sounds delicious!!! I can use butter instead of margarine for the fruit crumble right?

Shelley said...

Absolutely - butter vs margarine is an ongoing batte. Butter here is way more expensive than marge which Bill uses daily on his toast with marmalade. He's convinced that death is not proventable and so continues to use controversial products... I use margarine and the result gets scarfed up immediately!