Among all the wonderful desserts out there, I think crisps/crumbles are quite special. While I enjoy baking, I am by no means a very proficient baker. I steer clear of recipes that call for more than 30 minutes of preparation time, since that usually translates to too many steps or calls for considerable skill, both of which increases room for error.
Anyway, crumbles are extremely simple to make. I actually think it is not possible to go wrong. Also, they mostly contain fruit. While I am not opposed to using fat or flour and personally love butter, I have an overpowering reluctance to use loads of it. I've tried, told myself repeatedly that I will not skimp on butter before starting on a recipe, and when it is time to unwrap the paper package containing the butter, something comes over me and I reduce the quantity. A few times, this has resulted in a non-ideal final product which I carry as a stark reminder for the next time, but as time goes by, I forget and revert to my old butter skimping ways.
Crumbles are low on flour and butter (or at least customizable), simple (a caveman can do it!) and fruity. A fair warning though: without a food processor, it requires a good bit of elbow grease. It took me quite a while slicing the apples and mixing the butter into the flour.
I adapted Ina Garten' s recipe to suit my tastes.
6 medium apples, sliced ( I used Granny Smith )
2 T lemon juice
1 t lemon zest
1/2 C sugar ( will reduce it to 1/3 C next time )
2 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
1.5 T flour
1 t ground dried ginger
1 C oats
3/4 C flour
4 T cold butter
1 t salt
1/3 C sugar
Slice the apples. Some recipes call for peeling the apples, but unless the skin is too tough, I don't think it is necessary. Add lemon juice and zest, since it prevents browning of the apples. Combine all the other ingredients for the filling and toss so that all the apples are coated with all the spices. The flour really helps, since it thickens as it cooks with the juices of the apples, making a nice sauce. Grease a pie dish with some butter and arrange the apple slices in it, and set aside.
Cut the butter into cubes and add them to a large bowl with flour, salt and sugar. Using your fingers, break the butter into the flour until no large lumps remain. This process took me nearly 10 minutes. Next, add the oatmeal and combine thoroughly. Add handfuls of the flour-butter mixture on the apples, until they are evenly distributed.
Bake in a 350 F oven for 1 hour, or until the topping has browned well. Allow to cool for 30 minutes before consuming.
Apple Crumble tastes wonderful plain or you can take it up a notch by serving it with plain vanilla ice cream.