Despite the balmy weather, we’ve been doing a lot of fall activities lately, including a trip to the pumpkin patch and driving around the neighborhood to see which houses have their Halloween decorations up. Emmett LOVES the latter, and memorizes which houses have which decorations. He remembers them all from last year too, so he knows which streets to check for his favorites. “Scary kitty cat with head that moves” is his #1.
I left September to making sauce from the last of the good tomatoes but now that it’s October, I think I’m ready for some baking. Apples. Pumpkin. Warm spices. All that stuff. What better way to get back in the saddle after a failure then to have a little help? My brother-in-law gave me this fruit crumble mix the other day and it was the perfect re-introduction. Fail-proof. Fast. And a good excuse to get out the old apple peeler-slicer-corer that the kids love to use so much. The concept is: mix the crumble topping from the box with a splash of milk and cover your fruit filling with it. Pop it in the oven until it’s all bubbly and golden and eat. With ice cream, of course.
It turned out to be a good project for baking with little ones. They were able to peel, core and slice the apples (with the help of our little gadget), toss them with a little lemon juice, cinnamon and sugar, and mix the crumble topping with the milk. As a loss reduction strategy (and to avoid a crazy mess), I was in charge of putting the filling in the baking pan, topping it with the crumble mix and putting the whole thing in the oven. About 50 minutes later the whole thing was bubbly, the topping browned and the house smelled like fall.
Crumble, like pie, really benefits from a chance to rest and cool before digging in - so the juices are absorbed back into the filling instead of seeping out all over the bottom of your pan. For this reason, I try to bake these types of desserts when I’m actually hungry for real food and prepared to wait awhile before sampling. This crumble stayed warm for hours. We hung out, ate dinner, then played monopoly before tucking into it a few hours later and it was still slightly warm. Perfect with a scoop of cold vanilla ice cream.
Eve probably enjoyed it the most. She and I shared some for breakfast the next day topped with plain greek yogurt and salted almonds. Notice I took no photos of the actual eating part. I guess we were all just focused on the food.
- 1 box of Green’s crumble mix, available at Paddy’s on the Square in Long Grove
- 20 ml milk (which roughly equals a splash, I was surprised at how little you need, so start small)
- ⅓ cup almonds, roughly chopped (optional)
- 5 medium apples, peeled and sliced, I used a mix of Gala and Golden Delicious
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon or apple pie spice
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 2 tablespoons of sugar
- Pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 350F.
- Mix apple slices with lemon juice, spices, salt and sugar in a large bowl.
- Mix crumble mix with chopped almonds and milk.
- Place apple mixture in a baking dish and top with crumble mixture.
- Bake for 50 minutes or until apple juices are bubbling and crumble topping is nicely browned.
- Allow to rest for 2-3 hours.
A couple of notes on using the mix. I didn’t follow the directions on the box which called for a higher cooking temp and shorter cooking time. I did this for a couple of reasons. First, since I added almonds to the crumble part, I was afraid that they would start to burn at the 400F directed so I lowered it to 350. Second, I cooked the whole crumble for about 50 minutes which was significantly longer than the 20-25 prescribed on the box. This was because I used apples, which take longer to cook than some fruits, like berries or peaches. If, for example, I were to use this mix to make cherry crumble with cherry pie filling and no nuts in the topping, I would probably do it exactly as directed.
This crumble mix will go in my pantry from now on. It wasn’t too sweet and came together in seconds with just a splash of milk. I can already think of a million other ways to use it - on top of coffee cake, banana bread or muffins, in lieu of a top-crust for a pie, on baked oatmeal or even donuts.
And just like that, I’m excited about baking again. What a difference a week makes.