Monday, March 23, 2009

Moving Forward with Apple Crumble

After working on this blog – and my cooking skills – for approximately one year, and for doing a substantial amount of baking before that, I feel that I've reached a high point of confidence in my tastes, my techniques, and my skills as a baker. I feel like a different baker than I did a year ago, and with each session I spend in the kitchen, I see myself growing a little more. Now, I rely much less on original recipes as they are printed in cookbooks or online, and I prefer to experiment, adding or subtracting elements as I imagine will create an even better dessert. I can eyeball most of my ingredients (although in baking, precision is essential, and this is generally a no-no). I also find that I can sweep through the kitchen with much more grace than I had had in the past, and still create something edible and satisfying.

Perhaps my next step could be to improve my cooking: I'm accustomed to putting together easily re-heatable meals that I can quickly bring in my bag for lunch, or what I call meal-snacks, which often consist of a few small pieces of food, like an apple along with a chunk of bread and a slice of cheese. Becoming a “real cook” could be somewhere in my future, but I'm having much more fun with the baking. Working with a hand mixer and a measuring cup is a form of meditation for me, and the very feeling of soft cookie dough or cupcake batter is calming. If I have a next step – and I believe I do – I would like to see how I can further share my baking with my friends and my community.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to put together an Apple Crumble for an impromptu potluck, and I did so at the host's house, as the main dish was cooking. The seemingly-small dish fed a medium-sized crowd that was already happily stuffed with lentil soup, souffle, and greens, and it seemed to be the perfect ending to a delicious meal: something not too sweet, not too heavy, and that could easily be eaten with the hands (by dessert, all of the forks had been used).
Given the chance to do this sort of baking on a weekly basis, I wouldn't be able to turn it down; tasting my Apple Crumble, which I adapted from a found recipe, was only slightly more enjoyable than baking it.

Apple Crumble


4 large Red Gala apples, cored and sliced
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 pinch salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
3/4 cup rolled oats


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Place the apples in an 8x8 inch baking dish. Pour the maple syrup over the apples. In a bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar. Stir in the flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and oats. Sprinkle the oat mixture over the apples.
3. Bake in preheated oven 35 minutes, until golden and bubbly and apples are tender.

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