I do love a good crumble and had always made mine in a ceramic dish. Then one day, inspired by the method used for Tarte Tatin, I decided to cut out some dish washing and make the whole blummin thing in a frying pan and my sticky apple one pan crumble was born. The apples are cooked in the frying pan, the crumble mixture is made while they cook, then the crumble mixture pops on top and the pan goes straight in the oven. Boom.
I taught this on my last California tour and it went down a storm. Thanks to all of you who have been sharing pictures of your versions. This is such a good dessert for parties as it can be prepped the day before and then popped into the oven an hour or so before you want to eat it. If you make it with gluten free oats and almond meal it will also mean any gluten free friends can join in dessert. I have even been known to eat leftovers for breakfast with yoghurt. The crumble topping is something I make a couple of times a month throughout the year with whatever fruit is in season.
Once you crack this method for cooking the apples you’ll be using them in all sorts of ways – to top pancakes or waffles, with ice cream, in oatmeal or even pie. If you fancy taking this in a pie direction, just make a pie crust (or buy an all-butter one, I won’t tell). Blind bake it then fill it with the apple mixture and top with crumble before baking until the crumble is golden. Scrummy.
For a richer or gluten-free crumble topping use ground almonds (almond meal) rather than flour. I often use a mixture of ground almonds and wholegrain spelt flour.
- Assemble the crumble the day before then bake on the day you want to eat it. I usually put it in the oven when my main course comes out. Just remember to set a timer on your phone so you don’t forget it when you get carried away eating dinner and chatting to friends
- Make the crumble mixture in a double batch and freeze one batch in a bag ready for a quick dessert another day.
- Make the apple mixture the day before and allow to come to room temperature before baking. Add 5 minutes to the cooking time if using cold apple mixture.
- You can make your own ground almonds (almond meal) in the food processor by blitzing whole raw almonds until they turn into a fine powder.
- See my previous crumble recipe for a summer version and ideas for other fruit combinations.
Active prep time: 15-20 minutes. Cooking time: 30-45 minutes
Ingredients (serves 6-8):
6 apples – I like to use Jazz apples but you can use bramley cooking apples if you want the cooked apple mixture to be less chunky
50ml (just under a quarter cup) water
100g (just over half a cup) unbleached or light brown sugar
50g (half a stick) delicious salted butter – You’ll get what you pay for but Stateside, I like Trader Joe’s Cultured Salted French butter or Kerrygold.
Half a teaspoon of sea salt flakes
Optional – 50ml (just under a quarter cup) Calvados
270g (3 cups) old fashioned rolled oats (choose gluten free oats if you are making this for someone who needs a GF dessert)
100g (1 cup) almond meal (to make it gluten free) or wholegrain spelt flour if gluten isn’t an issue
110g (1 stick) salted butter – the same as you use for the base
Teaspoon of sea salt
70-100g (half a cup) soft brown sugar
- Grab a deep sided heavy based metal pan. I use my 9 inch Scanpan frying pan to make this. If you have a metal frying pan with metal handles that will go in the oven you can save on washing dishes.
- Wash but don’t peel your apples then cut each one into half and remove the core then cut each half in slices so you have eight pieces per apple. If need be you can do this the day before – even if the chopped apples are brown it doesn’t matter as they are being cooked. I made a video to show you how I core my apples. I was cooking for a fussy eater the day I made the video so I had peeled the apples. I don’t usually.
3. Add the apples to the pan along with the sugar, butter, sea salt, calvados (if using) and water then stir with a silicone spatula
4. Continue to cook on a bubbling heat for about 10 minutes, or until the apples are starting to soften. Bramley apples will cook to a pulp, Jazz or dessert apples will hold their original shape but will fluff around the edges and soften. Stir every couple of minutes. Note: on the photo below I used Bramley cooking apples which break up more than dessert apples.
6. Put the oats and almond meal or flour in a large bowl with the salt and sugar. Stir roughly with your hand.
7. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients then use the ends of your fingers to rub it in. Think of ‘tickling’ the crumbs and butter to mix the butter into the dry ingredients. I made a quick video to show you below. Using the ends of your fingers to gently pick up a handful of crumbs then rub your fingertips together as you let the crumbs drop back into the bowl so that the butter breaks up and becomes combined with the dry ingredients. You will not get the mixture completely smooth and bump free. You’re aiming for a squishy breadcrumb texture – not as well combined as a cookie dough but with a few squidgy bits in places.
8. Take the pan of apples off the heat, taste and add more sugar if needed then scatter the crumble mixture on top of the apples. Don’t pack it down otherwise you will have a dense crumble. Any leftover crumble mixture can be frozen in a bag and used from frozen to make a mini – crumble in a ramekin when you need a quick solo dessert. At this stage, if you’re making ahead of time, the whole crumble can sit in the fridge for a day or can be frozen in a freezer suitable container – be sure to bring it back to room temp before cooking if you do that.
9. To cook the finished crumble – place the pan on a foil-lined metal tray (as some of the juice may bubble up and over when cooking) then cook for 25-30 minutes or until the crumble is golden brown and starting to brown a little more in places. Depending on the size of your pan, the cooking time will vary so check after 15 minutes then every 5 minutes after that.
10. When it is ready, remove from the oven to cool. Be sure to pop a tea towel or oven mitt over the handle as you will otherwise grab it without thinking and burn your hand (spoken from experience). After cooking, wait half an hour (or up to a couple of hours) before serving to allow the fruit to cool a little and the crumble to soak in some of the yummy juices. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or a splodge of créme fraîche.
You can now buy the equipment I use in this recipe through my shop. I’ve spent years testing my favourite bits of equipment so rest-assured that whatever I recommend is the best tool for the job and will give you great results without cluttering your kitchen with unused tools.
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