Saturday, 9 April 2016

Apple Crumble... My comfort food's story

Organic Apple Crumble 

One of my most vivid memories as a very small child around 2-3 yrs old is sitting in the kitchen of my grandparents farmhouse in Warrandyte eating my Nana's apple crumble. 

Apple Crumble for me is the ultimate dessert, not because it is particularly complex or luxurious but because it's simple ingredients, aroma and texture evoke such wonderful memories. 

I know most of you reading this will have a dish that has the same effect on you. These are the things in life we truly should cherish.

This is my Apple Crumble's story...

Mum in her 20's at Twickenham Farmhouse in Warrandyte 

Just the drive to Warrandyte was an adventure for me, the hills, the winding roads, the bush, in the 70's as a little girl it was pure excitement. It was a Sunday family tradition that has instilled a deep love of Warrandyte in both myself and my older sister Melinda. For my mum however who had been travelling between Camberwell and Warrandyte most of her life it was a normal part of life and an easy drive for her from our modest home in Blackburn to the sprawling farm. During her childhood her mother and father had owned an electronics store in Burke Road Camberwell and they had a residence above the store. 

Above: Popa and Nana (Archibald and Evelyn) and mums younger sister with Bessy the pony.

Above: Mum and her younger sister and father, Above right: The view from Twickenham, Warrandyte.

Their weekends were spent on the farm in a large but cosy Federation farm house  set on 100 or so acres with steep paddocks leading all the way to the Yarra River. Sitting in the kitchen you had the perfect view of the orchard filled with apple trees.

The apple trees were bursting with more fruit than they knew what to do with and the fragrance of fresh apples hung in the air. The pony Bessy spent lazy days rolling around under the trees and munching on the fallen apples and pottering on the lawns around the kitchen. The kitchen was little more than a lean-to annex built on to the back of the house.


Outside the kitchen with Bessy on the lawns 

 Like many rather grand farmhouses of it's time the beautiful 'Twickenham's'  Federation facade was at the opposite end facing the stunning views over Warrandyte and the Yarra and yet most of our time was spent in the back annex in the kitchen and talking to the pony.

Twickenham, Warrandyte 1964 (6 years before I was born) 
Above: Twickenham driveway today, Above right: Twickenham in the 70's.

Etched into my memory is the sensation of sitting in kitchen smelling the aroma of Nana's Apple Crumble and anticipating the heavenly taste! It never disappointed. That memory is as clear to me 43 years later as if it were yesterday. 

Sadly by the time I was 5 my grandmother had passed away very  suddenly. The world as I knew it changed. Twickenham was never the same. My mother was utterly devastated and our hearts were broken, the farmhouse and the land were sold. 

The memories of this place, of the aroma of cooking apples and crunch of the Apple Crumble remain as vivid for me as if they were yesterday. So it's hardly surprising that I harboured a somewhat obsessive desire to recreate the exact sensation of having Apple Crumble at Nanas. 

So after 46 years I have achieved one of my life goals.  I've finally mastered recreating the most beautiful thing I have ever tasted, that's something worth writing about in my opinion. At nearly 40 I finally had a beautiful little boy I was determined  to share my love of Apple Crumble with him.

Just the fragrance evokes such wonderful childhood memories of exploring the grounds of Twickenham,  watching Nana dig around the veggie garden outside the kitchen and sitting in the kitchen with my mum and my big sister watching Nana Cook, whilst keeping a watchful eye on the ever present huntsman spiders that always seemed to be lurking in that kitchen. 

Me at about 3 on the path leading from the bottom driveway up to the house

Now that I'm regularly cooking Nana's Apple Crumble for my son, with organic ingredients of course, I'm pleased to report his evaluation is  "Hmmmmm I really like this Apple Crumble Mummy". What better review can you get than that??!!!

So many childhood memories encompass meal times, one of the reasons a dinner time at the table with my son is one of the most important parts of my day.  I'd love you to  try the recipe I've added at the end of this article. I hope it helps create beautiful memories for your family too. 

Priscilla X

Nana's Amazing Organic Apple Crumble 


Using organic ingredients means the simple flavour of the apples and coconut are the star of this dish. Try to use organic flour, sugar, rolled oats and butter and you'll have a beautiful chemical free dessert.

 150g (1 cup) plain flour
 100g (1/2 cup, firmly packed) brown sugar
 100g chilled butter, chopped
 50g (1/2 cup) rolled oats
 60g (1/2 cup) dedicated coconut
1/4 tsp All Spice
 8 large cooking apples
 Vanilla ice-cream, to serve

Step 1
Preheat oven to 180°C. Combine the flour, sugar, butter and oats and coconut in a bowl.
Step 2
Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the mixture until butter is mixed in. 
Step 3
Spoon the apple into a pot and add 1/2 cup water, simmer on a low heat for 5 minutes until just soft. Scoop into a medium size baking dish and mix in 1/4 tsp of all spice. Then sprinkle the crumble mixture on top evenly. Bake in oven for 15-25 minutes or until golden. Spoon the apple crumble into serving bowls.
Serve with ice-cream.