This Ginger Spiced Apple crumble is one of my favourite winter desserts. I know I will make it again and again throughout my life because there's something almost addictive about this crumble. I love biting into the perfectly crisp topping to taste the soft and slightly spiced caramelly baked apples that lie beneath. The addition of stem ginger, cinnamon and a very small amount of ground cloves gives it a warming winter spice flavour.
This is an uncomplicated dessert that takes just 20 minutes to prepare. You can then put it into the oven, set a timer and walk away from it and relax while the magic happens. Generally, I don't like winter, but I wouldn't miss it for warming and cosy puddings like this.
- Apples - I recommend Bramley Apples or Granny Smith because they have a slight tartness that goes well with the other flavours in the crumble. Bramley Apples are super soft and almost fluffy when baked, but I know they can be harder to find outside of the UK. Granny Smith apples are a good alternative, but are less soft and tend to retain their form more once baked. Other eating apples are also fine, they will lack the tartness, but will still taste good. Feel free to throw in the apples you have available if you can't get hold of Bramley of Granny Smith.
- Stem ginger - brings a bold and sweet ginger flavour to the crumble filling. For the best results, this needs to be cut into very small pieces. It's best to use a food processor for this if you have one. Just be sure not to over puree it until it becomes a paste.
- Spices - cinnamon and a very small amount of ground cloves add to the winter spice flavour.
- Lemon juice - adds a tangy freshness.
- Brown sugar - this provides a richer and more caramelly sweetness than caster sugar, but you can use caster sugar if you don't have brown.
- Butter and flour - these are the key ingredients for the crumble topping. I have found a ratio the guarantees a crisp topping. Make sure you use cold butter.
- Brown sugar - to add a caramelly sweetness. You can use caster sugar instead.
- Finely grated lemon zest - gives the topping a citrusy freshness.
Optional extras for the topping:
- Ground ginger - to bring additional flavour.
- A small handful of chopped nuts - add an additional crunch to the topping. Almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts work well here.
How to make Ginger Spiced Apple Crumble:
1. Blitz the stem ginger
Heat your oven to 180°C or 300°F. Stem ginger is one of the main players in the crumble and it's important to get the right consistency. You should be looking for a fine granular consistency. Using a food processor is the best way to achieve this, but you can also cut it very finely with a knife if you don't have one. Be careful not to overwork it, remember you want tiny pieces rather than a puree.
2. Make the filling:
Incorporate the chopped apple, blitzed stem ginger, brown sugar, cinnamon and cloves and place into a baking dish.
3. Make the topping:
Place the flour and chopped cold butter into a clean bowl and work them together with your hands until you get a chunky crumbly consistency as opposed to fine breadcrumbs. Add the sugar, ground ginger and lemon zest and gently work them in.
4. Assemble and bake
Place the crumble topping on top of the filling and sprinkle the mixed nuts on top if using. Bake for 40 minutes. The crumble is done when the topping starts to brown and you can see molten juices bubbling around the edges.
- Peeler - Apples should be peeled before they are added to the crumble to ensure the filling has a smooth texture.
- Apple core remover - useful for quickly removing the apple cores. You can use a knife for this if you do not have one.
- Sharp knife - essential for chopping the apple
- Mini food processor or food processor - for blitzing the stem ginger. You can also finely chop it with a knife if you do not have one.
- Mixing bowl - To incorporate the filling ingredients and topping. Just make sure you wipe it clean or wash it in between making the filling and crumble.
- Baking dish - choose a size that will hold the crumble filling plus topping fairly tightly but also leaves a little space, otherwise there's a risk of the molten juices overflowing and spilling into the oven. A medium dish should be sufficient for one batch of this recipe. Approx. size 25cm x 19cm.
3 top tips for a perfect Ginger Spiced Apple Crumble:
- Blitz or cut the stem ginger into small pieces - the correct consistency is key here. You want to avoid large chunks. This is why I suggest a mini food processor if you have one, but this can also be done with a knife. If you do use a food processor, avoid over blitzing it. Remember you are after small pieces and not a puree, a couple of touches of the button should be sufficient for this.
- Incorporate the crumble filling with your hands - it's a little messier than using a spoon but ensures all ingredients in the filling are mixed well. Stem ginger can have a tendency to clump a little and your fingers are best for ensuring it is spread evenly throughout the filling.
- It's all about the topping - crumble topping is a key element that can really make or break the dish. I incorporate the butter and flour first until I get the consistency I want before adding the sugar, lemon zest, and ground ginger. You should be looking for a chunky but crumbly consistency. I have seen some recipes that suggest a breadcrumb texture, but I thoroughly disagree. To me breadcrumbs sound like too much flour and not enough butter resulting in a slightly dry topping that does not hold together well. I will often make the filling into a ball in my hand and let it fall away into its natural crumbly chunks.
How to eat Apple Crumble:
This is a topic that can divide people. My Dad and I like to pour lots of warm custard over ours, but my husband likes a few dollops of cold custard on the side. Other people like to eat theirs with cream or ice cream.
A tip for leftover crumble: Add a couple of spoonfuls of this crumble to your morning porridge for a seriously lovely breakfast. I discovered this by accident when I had a tiny and pointless amount of crumble leftover from the night before and now it's something I'll be doing again and again.
Leftovers and freezing:
The crumble will keep in the fridge for up to 3 to 4 days. Just make sure you cover it to prevent it from drying out. You can reheat it in the oven or microwave, but I recommend the oven if you have the time and you want to retain the crispy texture of the crumble topping.
I've never frozen crumble simply because we tend to devour it pretty quickly. However, I have heard that you can. If you're making it with the intention of freezing it I'd recommend freezing it unbaked but you can also freeze a cooked crumble and reheat although I'm not sure if all the amazing textures would be preserved this way.
Apple Crumble FAQs:
Bramley: a cooking apple that retains a slight tartness when cooked and has a lovely soft melt-in-the-mouth texture. I love these in crumble but know that they are not easy to get hold of outside of the UK.
Granny Smith: these are great all-rounders and a solid choice for crumble in my opinion. They also have a slight tartness that works well in crumble. They are not quite as soft as Bramley and will retain their form more after they have baked in the oven.
Other apples: Ordinary eating apples like Braeburn or Pink Lady will be sweeter than Bramley and Granny Smith apples but will still taste good. Crumble is a great dish to make if you have a bunch of apples that you need to use up.
There are two key factors here. The first is having the correct ratio of butter to flour in the topping. The second is how you work the mixture together. Start working with the butter and flour alone until you get the consistency you want before adding in the sugar, lemon zest and other seasonings. If I add nuts I always add them on the top rather than mixing them into the crumble topping as they can interfere with the consistency.
You should work the mixture until you get a crumbly but chunky texture. I form the mixture into balls and let them break away naturally into crumbly chunks. I also continue this technique when I assemble the crumble to ensure any small crumbs are pushed into chunks.
After 40 minutes in the oven at 180°C or 300°F the topping will be slightly brown and you should see molten sugar/stem ginger juice bubbling around the edges. This means it's ready. Leave it for a few minutes to cool slightly before eating to avoid scalding your mouth.