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Apple Crumble: A Beloved South African Dessert

By December 20, 2019January 19th, 2023FinGlobal

Apple Crumble: A Beloved South African Dessert

December 20, 2019


Is it a tart? Is it a pie? No! It’s Apple Crumble. Crispy, green and a little bit sour, the taste of a Granny Smith apple is something that every South African should be familiar with, but these apples are best baked to perfection in a crumble. If you’re looking for a taste of home, it doesn’t get much better than this easy apple crumble recipe that we’ve got for you below. With the help of our tips and tricks below, you’ll soon learn how to make a flop-proof apple crumble – the perfect way to end off a meal.

The history of the Granny Smith apple: the star ingredient in any apple crumble recipe

You might be surprised to know that Granny Smith apples are actually from Australia. Who knew! The legend of the Granny Smith apple tells us that Maria Ann “Granny” Smith (yep, “Granny Smith” was an actual person!) was baking with French crab apples and when she was done, she discarded the apple remnants in the compost pile behind the house on her farm, down by the creek.

Some time later she discovered a chance seedling in the compost pile, and it was like nothing she’d seen before. Chance seedlings are those trees that germinate and grow without human intervention and new types of apples can be created through cross-pollination – as one type of tree is pollinated by another. This makes it difficult to determine the origin of pollination and because Granny Smith couldn’t establish the true lineage of this new variety, she decided to propagate these apple trees for herself so that she could enjoy their tart flavour and rich diversity.

Granny Smith died a few short years later, but her namesake apples grew a cult following among local apple growers. Her apples would go on to attract national attention, winning a prize in the late 1890s for “Best Cooking Apple” at the Castle Hill Agricultural and Horticultural Show in Australia, which inspired others to take on the cultivation of this fortuitous variety. By 1895, Australia’s Department of Agriculture was recommending the Granny Smith variety for export, thanks to its late picking season and extended shelf life.

Easy Apple Crumble Recipe:

This recipe was adapted from The Reader’s Digest South African Cookbook, another beloved staple in South African homes.

Ingredients for the filling:

  • 6 medium-sized Granny Smith apples
  • 75g soft brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp lemon juice (optional)
  • Pinch of ground cloves/nutmeg
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 30ml water

Ingredients for the crumble:

  • 150g butter
  • 165g flour (plain or wholewheat)
  • 60g walnuts (optional)
  • 150g soft brown sugar

How to make apple crumble

  1. Peel, core and thinly slice the apples into a medium-sized saucepan.
  2. Add the sugar, spices, raisins, lemon juice and water.
  3. Cover the saucepan and cook over a gentle heat until apples are soft – just under five minutes.
  4. Tip the contents into a well-buttered baking dish.
  5. To make the crumble, rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips until the mixture becomes crumbly, add sugar and stir the mixture well. (You can do this in your food processor, pulsing until you get a crumble consistency.)
  6. Sprinkle the crumble over the apple mixture until it is covered completely but DO NOT press the topping down too much.
  7. Bake in the oven at 180°C for 30-40 minutes until the topping has turned golden brown and slightly crispy.
  8. Serve hot with custard, whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

If you’re looking for a modern twist on a traditional recipe, here’s how to make an apple crumble with a difference

The crumble is the constant ingredient here, and you’re free to have fun with various fillings and additions. Take a look at some of our favourite ideas for crumble variations:

  • Sliced strawberries and bananas, with crumbled amaretti biscuits in the topping
  • Blueberries or gooseberries with roasted almond flakes in the topping
  • Apple with dried cranberries and extra cinnamon in the topping
  • Peaches and mango, with desiccated coconut in the topping.
  • Nectarines and apricots, with white chocolate chips in the topping.

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