Wednesday 18 April 2012

Crumbled Apples

On a beautifully bright day a few weeks ago, we went for lunch at one of my favourite restaurants in Verbier.

It's tucked away in the trees, up on the side of the bowl cradling our town. My friend B was staying with us, so the three of us walked up the snowy path with the dogs. I had my film camera with me and kept clicking away. When we arrived, the dogs curled up at our feet and we settled down to eat.

They make particularly delicious salads at La Marlenaz. I had one filled with hot chicken, toasted almonds and lots of other goodies, all topped with their wonderful dressing. B's had a generous helping of incredibly fresh goats cheese and slices of apple. Mum always (and I mean always) has soup for lunch - so she had a big bowl of asparagus soup.

Though I felt a bit out of depth taking shots of food on film (and outside of my kitchen!) I'm pleased with how they turned out.

For pudding, B had a lemon tart and mum and I shared the 'Apple Crumble'. In my opinion, it's actually Crumbled Apples, so that's what I've called my version. They essentially take chunky slices of apple, coat them in a crumble mixture and then bake them like that. It's served with a melting scoop of rich vanilla ice cream and a little biscuit (which I think has something like caraway seeds in it).

We returned for dinner on mum's birthday and had the same pudding. It was just as enjoyable the second time.

I decided to make my own version of their dish (just like I did with the Wild Strawberry Creams, adapted from a raspberry dessert we had there). I added ground almonds for texture, cinnamon for flavour and brown butter because I love it. I thought using liquid butter would also help get the right consistency so the mixture would stick, at least partially, to the apples. The result is the best tasting wet sand you'll ever find.

When baked, the apples soften and caramelize around the edges. The crumble is slightly chunkier in my version - it asserts its presence.

Though I'm generally against deconstructing perfectly good desserts, especially when they take something simple and make it incredibly complicated, I like this take on crumble. It's a nice change, especially for summer.

As long as you're not expecting Apple Crumble, Crumbled Apples are really very delicious.

Crumbled Apples
(inspired by a dessert at La Marlenaz, Verbier)

45g unsalted butter
40g plain flour
25g whole almonds (or ground)
30g soft brown sugar
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of fine sea salt
2 apples (I used braeburn)

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. In a small frying pan or saucepan, melt the butter. Keep over the heat until the butter has bubbled, foamed and then died down - it should smell fantastic and there should be lots of dark brown flecks. Take off the heat and leave to cool. Place the flour and whole almonds in a food processor and blend until the almonds have been reduced to fine crumbs. Add the sugar, cinnamon and salt and pulse to combine. Leave in the processor.

Peel the apples. Slice into quarters, remove the pips and stalks, then slice lengthways into 3 or 4 slices. Add the brown butter to the food processor and blend until it looks like wet sand. Tip onto a baking sheet, add the apple slices and toss together.

Place into the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a knife slips easily into the bigger apple slices and the crumble pieces are golden brown and crisp. Serve either alone or with a scoop of rich vanilla ice cream or chilled double cream. Best eaten while still warm.

(Serves 2-3)


  1. I like this kind of simple recipe. I'm planning to make apple-rhubarb crumple tonight (with vanilla ice cream of course :)) but now I'm wondering if I should make this.

  2. Hello Emma-- I just recently discovered your blog and think it is lovely. And this looks delicious: the crumbles right around the chunks of fruit are perhaps the best part of any crisp or crumble; I love the idea! Well done with your film camera, too. I particularly love the light in the third photo.

  3. I absolutely love trying to recreate favourite desserts from restaurants and it looks like you've done it perfectly here! Love the idea of sliced crumbled apples rather than a full on crumble - it somehow feels lighter, fresher and more spring like.

  4. Hi,

    Just wanted to say i'm in the middle of revising for hellish exams and your blog really cheers me up every time I read it. I love your food and your photography is stunning. Crumbled apples are probably an excellent revision snack, might have to try this today!:-)

  5. Looks like the proportion of apple to crumble on your recipe is just perfect!

  6. Lovely job with your camera and keeping the recipe simple and inviting! Can't wait to make vanilla bean ice cream and top a scoop with these crumbled apples.

  7. Love apples and apple crumble! Thank you for sharing so beautifully,

  8. Emma, that is my kind of dessert. Relaxed, simple, but packed with flavor. I like that you used almonds. Yum!

  9. Emma - not only a genius in the kitchen, but a whizz behind a camera too! Looking great. I don't know you, but I am so proud of you, and your continued achievements. You rock!

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