An obligatory pudding of English schooldays, apple and blackberry crumble was never one of my favourites and in my mind’s eye I can still see those huge metal tins with their cement-like topping superheated and overcooked fruit forcing through cracks like lava from a volcano. Combine crisp tart eating apples and blackcurrants on an almond-enriched sweet pastry with a crunchy topping and you have something very different.
The inspiration for this recipe comes from the kitchen of French master chef Joël Robuchon, very much a three-star incarnation. From a cook’s point of view this recipe also scores by eliminating blind baking - always a tedious business - and uses frozen blackcurrants, one of the few fruits not to suffer from this treatment Robuchon’s pâtissier, Philippe Gobet used Golden Delicious. I have never understood the French love for these over-sweet apples - which I find insipid - and I prefer to use Cox’s, but Granny Smiths would also work well.
First prepare the crumble topping: sift the flour into a bowl with the brown sugar and almonds and combine them using your fingers. Add the butter and continue to work for several minutes until thoroughly blended in and the mixture is very crumbly. Leave to rest for about 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas5.
Prepare the filling: if the blackcurrants are frozen, defrost in a sieve to allow any excess moisture to drain. Peel, core and dice the apples into
Over a medium heat sauté the apples in a heavy pan with the butter and sugar, tossing to coat and cooking until just tender (which will take between 10 and 15 minutes). They should be golden brown.
If using apple brandy, warm it in a small pan. Ignite it and pour over the apples, stirring in. The mixture should not be too wet If it is, drain briefly in a fine sieve.
Take the pastry shell from the freezer, put it on a baking tray and spoon in the apples, pressing down to make them level. Sprinkle the blackcurrants over and cover evenly with the crumble topping. Use a spatula to smooth the surface flat Bake for 25 minutes and check that the topping is golden brown. If it is not, check every 5 minutes until done.
Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.
© 1993 Alastair Little and Richard Whittington estate. All rights reserved.