The colors, the chill in the air, snuggling into a throw on the sofa… I feel like I’ve never enjoyed fall this much before. The colors are so vibrant that even though the leaves are falling, everything seems to be alive and happy. Cloudy, wet days don’t seem gloomy or muggy anymore, because everywhere I turn, I see bursts of fiery color. Even at the brink of their life, the leaves have injected a fresh wave of vivacity into the air. I feel energized by it; my spirit lifts. I feel like it has brightened every deep, dark cell in my heart. The sun, having lost its austerity, beams down with a welcome glow, providing a cozy warmth in the frosty air. It is so uplifting to be surrounded by all this beauty.
I can’t help it; I can’t stop indulging in more fall flavors. Apples are in season, and we planned a trip to Hillcrest Orchards for a day at the farm and some apple picking. It was a long but beautiful drive through the countryside, crowded city houses giving way to farm houses nestled inside green fields, giving way to a number of orchards surrounded by lush forests.
It was our first time at an orchard. The weather was lovely, so a lot of people were there with their little ones. The atmosphere was like a carnival; there was a live country band, apple cider, candy apples, grilled corn on the cob, funnel cake, raw honey, a bounce house for kids, a tractor ride, various ‘country’ rides and of course, the apple picking.
I especially enjoyed tasting and learning about raw honey. There is a clear difference in taste in the honey made from different flowers. It was so rich, luscious and silky. The lady there also told me that the flow of the honey is a good indication of its purity. There is a certain speed with which pure honey flows. If it flows too quickly, then it has probably been processed or has corn syrup added to it. Raw honey is in high demand as it markedly reduces the symptoms of seasonal allergies. We could definitely use it in our household! But, it was for tasting only as they had run out of it. I hope we manage to get some next summer, InshaAllah.
It was a good day and the kids had fun. But I had no idea at the time how much I would want to go back there, or at least wish that I had gotten a bigger bag of apples! The apples turned into apple crumble, but it was the most flavorful apple crumble that I have ever made. And it’s not even that the apples were organic. But I cannot put into words the taste that came from those freshly picked apples. They weren’t the most beautiful or perfect apples. They looked more like the fruit we got from Pakistan; bruised, all kinds of shapes and sizes; but the flavor!!!
After having gone through this experience, I’m very motivated to go to orchards and farms for every fruit/vegetable that’s in season. I am fully convinced that there is a difference in taste that is worth the effort of driving for one hour to get a bag of produce! And a day at the farm is fun for the kids too. Win win!
So, why apple crumble, one might ask? The same reason that I pick most recipes these days- it’s simple, quick, easy and packs a punch in flavor. Unlike a lot of baked desserts, you don’t need an electric mixer for this recipe. I’ve always loved the contrast in flavor of the soft, caramelized apples and the sugary, crisp, crumbly topping. I love a little crunch in my desserts, and the proportion of crispy to soft in this recipe is juuuust right!
I made this for some friends who were coming over for dinner, and after spending all day frying onions for the entree items, it was so nice when the rich, warm aroma of the apples and cinnamon spread throughout the house. It’s a good idea to have this be the last item that you make if you’re having a dinner party, because it will fill the house with a delicious smell and you can serve it fresh out of the oven.
Apple crumble is best served warm, and I like to serve it with ice cream or cold whipped cream.
- 5 large apples
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/8 cup water
- 1 cup flour
- 1¼ tsp aluminum free baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 8 tbsp (1 stick butter)
- ½ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 5 cup capacity ovenproof dish.
- Peel, core and cut apples into eighths.
- Combine apples, sugar and water in a large pan. Cover and cook on medium low heat about 10-15 minutes until the apples are tender and the water has just evaporated. Watch carefully to make sure that the apples do not stick to the bottom or burn.
- Spread into prepared dish.
- Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
- Rub in the butter.
- Add brown sugar. Mix well.
- Spread the crumble mixture evenly over the apples. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until lightly browned. Serve warm.
What is aluminum free baking powder?
Most baking powders contain aluminum. This gives a metallic aftertaste to desserts that I don’t like. This is why I prefer to use aluminum free baking powder. This can be found at specialty stores or some good, well stocked grocery stores.
What is rubbing in the butter?
Rubbing in the butter is a process with which butter is mixed into flour and other dry ingredients, forming a mixture resembling breadcrumbs. This can be done with your hands, with a pastry blender like this one, or by lightly pulsing in a food processor. The butter should be a little soft, not melted. Cut the butter into small squares and add to the dry ingredients. Take some of the butter and flour in your hands and rub it between your fingertips and thumb, dropping it back into the bowl. Repeat until the desired texture is reached.
To achieve the right ‘crumbly’ texture, rubbing in the butter by hand is recommended. Doing it in a food processor can lead to an over processed mixture, which will give the crumble a more ‘cakey’ texture.
What kind of apples should I use?
A lot of baked apple recipes call for Granny Smith apples. I tried using those once, but those apples have such a pale white color, which turned into a dull, hazy white after cooking. Now, I only use any kind of red apples. They cook to a beautiful golden color, and that is what I look for in apple desserts.
Please ‘like’ Zabiha Bites on Facebook.