Apples are in abundance now that autumn is upon us. We see their glossy red and green skins peeking through the reddening leaves. A British pudding that is quick and easy to prepare is apple crumble.
The apple tree and the fruit itself have many traditions within European myth, folklore and medicine. The Celtic tradition believed Avalon, the Isle of Apples, was ruled over by Morgan, the Fairy Queen. Avalon being the home of the fairies. The apple is associated with rebirth and symbolises the British after-life which is why it can be found in churchyards, this being a way to feed the dead.
‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’ was coined in 1913 but is based on an 1860’s Welsh proverb ‘Eat an apple on going to bed and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.’ Sadly, no studies show that eating the fruit once a day improves health.
Apples appear frequently throughout literature from Snow White’s poisoned apple to the golden apple, which started the Trojan War in Greek mythology. The apple also appears in Homer’s Odyssey. Apples are said to symbolise knowledge which comes from the Adam and Eve story, although the fruit being an apple only appears in the New Testament and not the Old Testament. In more modern times we see the fruit on the cover of the Twilight Saga, as a symbol of temptation, Bella being tempted by Edward.
According to history the exact location of the first apple trees is unknown although carbonised apple remains have been found across Europe. In Britain, the crab apple was known as ‘wildings’ and in Switzerland dried apple halves have been found near human settlements dating roughly 10,000 years ago. It seems we have been eating apples for a very long time but how did we get the wide variety we see today? Travellers and merchants would have eaten and traded apples, dropping the seeds as they went. The Roman’s also played a part in the spread of apples, planting seeds wherever they travelled. However Roman varieties were not suitable for the British climate but after the Norman conquest of 1066 new varieties were introduced along with cider making skills. British monks began experimenting and developed many varieties that our European apples are descended from.
As for apple crumble, it became popular in Britain during World War 2 at the height of rationing. Its popularity remains today as a warming, comforting pudding for cold dark nights.
For the crumble mix:
- 150g plain flour
- 125g chilled butter, cut into cubes
- 35g demerara sugar
- 35g caster sugar
For the filling:
- As many apples that will fit in your dish!
- 2-4 tbsp. of sugar
Preheat oven on gas mark 6 (200°C).
Place all the crumble mix ingredients into a bowl. Using your hands mix the ingredients until it forms a nice crumbly texture.
Pop in the fridge until needed.
Peel, chop and core apples and put them into a dish. Sprinkle with sugar and mix slightly.
Top off with your crumble mix and cook for 30-45 minutes.
Serve with warm custard.