Sunday, 27 November 2011

Sugar and spice and all things nice

I felt like a proper Sunday lunch today and that involved having a proper wintery pudding. I'm quite happy with a bowl stewed orchard fruit this time of year, especially with a bit of cinnamon cooked in, but today I wanted something a bit more substantial and quite frankly there was only one thing that would fit the bill .... crumble!!

Fruit crumble is such a wonderful pudding .. stodgy, comforting and rich in flavour. It's also a great way to get fruit into your diet over the cold winter months when you might not feel like raw fruit. Crumbles are also a sneaky way to get fruit into the diets of fruit (or adult!) averse children and use up any bottled or frozen fruit from the summer.

Sadly despite it's virtues, crumble is not sugar, dairy and gluten free (most puddings aren't). But, as with all my favourite dishes, I don't see cutting these out as a hurdle and with a little help from Delia Smith and Elena from Elena's Pantry I came up with a hybrid crumble .... rich in flavour but without the saturated fats, sugars and flour.

This recipe is particularly up my street because it incorporates some of my favourite wintery spices, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, with my favourite fruit. These spices are all wonderfully warming but also have antibacterial qualities, much needed as the winter bugs start emerging. Cinnamon is also helpful in balancing blood sugar levels and enhances the sweetness of anything you add it to, that means you need less sugar in the recipe, so you won't get the usual sugar low after this pudding that you might after other sugary desserts. Cloves and nutmeg also have anti-inflammatory properties, so good for those creaking joints on a cold morning.

Spiced pecan & apple crumble
Core and chop 5 medium dessert apples into large slices and put in a small ovenproof dish.
Add to this 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground cloves, 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg, 1 tbsp agave syrup and 1oog raisins. Stir thoroughly and leave.

In a cup mix 1/3 cup of grapeseed oil, 1/4 cup of agave syrup and 1 tbsp vanilla essence.

In a bowl mix 2 cups of ground almonds with 100g chopped pecans (I used my little handheld braun blender with it's chopper attachment) and a pinch of salt. Stir in the liquid from the cup and mix thoroughly. Spread over the apple and spice mixture and pat down firmly with your fingers to seal the top.

Bake at 180C for 40-45 minutes (until golden on top).

Hot doc is a pudding purist and insisted on having custard with this, but it was delicious on it's own. Otherwise serve with natural yoghurt (soya for dairy free), or you can even make your own dairy free custard with custard powder, rice milk and fructose or agave to sweeten to taste.

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