Apple and Pear Crumble with Custard

Snow! It’s snowing in London. After spending 3 weeks in Southeast Asia, travelling around Thailand and Cambodia, sweating in 30° tropical temperatures, I return to London only to find the other extreme: freezing cold, icy winds – and now snow.

So, on top of having to deal with jetlag and everyday reality kicking in again, I now also have to work on keeping my toes and fingers warm! Fortunately, my oven’s here to help! When faced with sub-zero temperatures, there is really no better friend around that a good old oven, right?

Now, the question is – what to bake? The ultimate comfort food, the one that always makes me feel better – no matter how much crap is happening or how cold it’s getting – is a good, traditional crumble. A melting fruit base topped with buttery crumble is just the ultimate feel-good food. Snuggle up with a cup of tea, hot crumble, some creamy custard and the Sunday papers – and the world is a better place again…

This crumble combines my favourite fruit: apples and pears. I also decided to throw in some dried dates – just because they were lying around (leftovers from a spinach and date stuffed chicken breast) and I thought they’d fit nicely. Don’t go out of your way to buy some specially for this crumble though. Why not try and just use some dried plums, cranberries or even cherries? Or add a handful of fresh blueberries? Or simply stick with the apples and pears!

You can also put a few bits of marzipan into the fruit mix. My friend Emma is particularly fond of marzipan, so every time I make a crumble for her, it’s stuffed with marzipan.

Another key ingredient is the cinnamon! I just love cinnamon, and it’s the perfect winter warming spice. I also used a few star anise. Again, don’t go out of your way to buy some for this crumble, but if you happen to have some, throw them in (but warn your guests before they dig in – otherwise they might bite on a hard, aniseedy surprise…).

Custard is the ultimate companion to a mean crumble. If you don’t have the time, patience or guts to make your own, buy some nice, luxury custard, or some vanilla ice cream.

February 5, 2012