Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Deborah's Single Serving Apple Crumble: Guest Post

Okay, people. It's November, and in some unenlightened corners of the world, that means you keep wearing the same grody Rainbow flip-flops you've been wearing since last November. But for the rest of us, November brings the first real punch of bona fide season changes. Crisp air, apple season, and boots can mean whatever you want them to. But when the Empire apples you brought home in September start going mushy in the fridge, then it's time to stop delaying the inevitable and bake them.
I've always felt like it ought to be at least a minor felony to bake/stew/braise/otherwise process with heat fruit in the rising season, and maybe even for a week or so into peak season. I wait all year for the crunch of that first bite of apple in September, and it just seems almost sacreligious to immediately suffocate that impossible-to-get-any-other-time-of-the-year freshness with heat, even if you cover it with a butter pastry or cinnamon sugar first. Suffice to say, it is now November and past the time when it is acceptable to bake apples. Like just about everything else in my life this is clearly a love/hate relationship. On the other hand, it's almost orange season...!


Single Serving Apple Crumble:
{serves one}
The key to making this 'single serving' (and therefore, by definition, cute) is a small Pyrex dish, of the one-cup sort. It should look and feel like the same stuff they make their baking pans out of. Please note that oven use of these guys may not necessarily be recommended, but I've done it for a while now without any issues. You could probably also substitute a ramekin, or something otherwise oven-safe. Also, if you're one of those people-that-are-not-me with tiny appetites, this will probably make more than one serving.
This is a forgiving recipe--one of those infinitely versatile basics that are really more concept than step-by-step directions. Short of doing something like forgetting the apples, it's not easy to screw this one up. So don't panic. In the end, the only thing that really matters is whether or not your tastebuds like it. And I suppose whether or not you burn the house down.

1 large tart apple--an Empire or a Cortland is best, but if you must, a Granny Smith will do. If you do this with a Fuji, Honeycrisp, Gala, or Red Delicious, just don't tell me and we'll be cool. Cool?
.5 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp flour
1.5 Tbsp oats

For the apples:
less than a tsp of flour
1/4 to 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
2 good shakes of nutmeg

sturdy fork
bowl large enough to mix your apples
1-cup Pyrex dish
{Not pictured: toaster oven}

Cream the sugar into the butter--or, if you're feeling lazy, melt the butter and stir in the sugar. Add the flour and oats, and mix with a chop-stir-chop-stir motion. You should end up with pea-sized chunks, maybe with some loose oats. If you see loose flour, you added too much flour. Put in a little bit more butter. Chunks sticking together into one big mass? Add some more oats.
{this is an example of too much flour}
Wash, peel (if you want), and slice your apple. The thinner, the better. Stir in your cinnamon, nutmeg, and flour. If you see dry flour left over after thoroughly stirring, you have too much flour. Add a squirt of lemon juice, or a 1/4 tsp. of water at a time, stirring well after each addition, until it goes away.
Layer your apples in your pyrex. Dump your topping over the top, cover with aluminum foil, and stick it in the toaster oven between 375 and 400 degF.
Leave it for about 45 minutes. Maybe longer. Maybe shorter. When the water you bake out of the apples starts to look thick and bubbly, it's about right. Pull it out (carefully!). Let it cool a bit. Scoop ice cream on top and eat right away, or pop the lid on and bring it for lunch tomorrow. Up to you.

(Whoops. No picture. I ate it before I remembered to take a picture. Sorry.)

This is easily replicated with other fruits, though the details should differ slightly by season--berries will need a tad more flour and can probably do without the nutmeg, pears should be cut thicker to avoid disintegrating, and don't do it with oranges. Yep. That's about it. Happy November, guys.


{sent to Sam on November 5, 2011. fail on my part. eek}

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