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Oh, autumn. You tricksy devil, you.
I was so excited about finding myself in late September last week. My friends, autumn means nothing less than PUDDING SEASON. Crumbles, treacle sponges, apple pie and anything else that can be partnered with custard: this is what I dream of at night. But just when I’d got out my crumble dish, all a-quiver with anticipation, the weather suddenly turned tropical for four or five days. We sweltered in 28°C, and it was not a crumble-appropriate temperature at all. O, but I am fortune’s fool.
Today, however, we returned to grim raininess, and the babe and I ventured out to the post office under grey and sullen skies. Crumble was gloriously back on the menu. I decided on a pear and toffee variety from a book of one-pot dishes I have on my shelf. Because, well. Wouldn’t you?
Onwards, then. Step one is the crumble topping. A fairly standard combination of diced butter rubbed into flour, then combined with demerara sugar and chopped hazelnuts. I ended up having to add more flour than instructed (the first attempt was far too sticky), but otherwise, this went well.
I’d forgotten to buy hazelnuts, but happily found an ancient bag of them in the back of my cupboard. The best before date was July 2011, but on balance, I decided I was unlikely to contract E.coli from a hazelnut, and forged ahead anyway.
Step two is the toffee. Making toffee sauce is the most happy-making thing on the planet, I sometimes think. The ingredients are joyous: golden syrup, cream, butter, vanilla essence, sugar. You throw them all in and then gently simmer for a few minutes. It smells like ambrosia itself. Toffee sauce completed.
Step three is the filling. Peel and chop four large pears, fry in more butter for a short while and then add the toffee sauce. Once I’d done this, the pears had juiced up so much that the mixture was quite watery, but I assumed it would reduce in the oven (and so it did).
The pear mixture goes in the bottom of the dish, and the crumble on top. After twenty minutes or so in the oven, it’s done.
(Is it me, or does it look a bit like sick? It’s hard to make crumble look good in a photograph. It was much more appealing in real life, honest.)
Deliciousness: It was lovely. LOVELY. But it didn’t taste much of toffee. The pears overpowered it. More toffee sauce is required, I think. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to include more hazelnuts than the specified two tablespoons. You couldn’t taste those either, though maybe that’s because mine had gone off.
Complexity: Very easy. Pears are a bit gross when you peel and chop them, but at least they don’t need coring.
Washing-up pile: A very reasonable five.
Casualties: Major hand-cramp from rubbing butter into flour. Is there a machine that would do this for you? I’d buy one.