This recipe is highly inspired by my Grandma’s cooking. Although I don’t think she ever poached quince or made her own ice cream, crumbles were definitely a staple dessert in her house. Rhubarb was the filling I remember most and as I have alluded to before, I would not try the Rhubarb Crumble’s my Grandma made. This was in protest of the fact that the dessert wasn’t Pavlova, which was, to me the only obvious choice for dessert at any time of year.
My Grandma’s Pavlova was my absolute favourite (still evidenced by how many times it has appeared in some form on this blog!), and I remember feeling such bitter disappointment when I noticed it had not been my Grandma’s chosen dessert that evening. While the pink hue of the rhubarb should have drawn my interest as a child, I was firmly opposed to the idea of eating a vegetable in a dessert, even if it was served with ice cream. I would then moodily sit eating my plain vanilla ice cream, hoping our next visit would include my favourite Pavlova.
Now being older and having made much more of an effort to try new foods, I have come around the to humble crumble. I could not however find amongst my Grandma’s hand written recipes, a recipe for any type of crumble. It is likely it was something she started making later in life, maybe seeing it made on one of the cooking shows on TV she liked watching, or amongst the recipes found in the newspaper. I did however stumble across a little section in her copy of ‘Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course’ on crumbles and I guess it is also possible the recipe she used or was inspired by came from there. The book is ‘a new edition for the 1990s’, which would fit in well with my thought that she made many more crumbles later in life. It also fits in rather perfectly with my childhood memory of boycotting her rhubarb crumble.
My Grandma’s copy of Delia’s book, looks somewhat used, maybe just a little less so than her handwritten notebooks and recipe books from the 1950s. A few pages are marked with scraps of paper with handwritten recipes on them (including a lemon sponge and oatmeal cookies), and a couple of cut outs from the food section of a newspaper (one recipe and one reader cooking tip). There is also a bookmark from the Stroke Foundation holding the place between Spanish Pork with Olives and Ossobuco in the ‘Meat: Casseroles and Braised Dishes’ section. Such a find is slightly bittersweet considering how my Grandma’s life came to an end, but also a reminder of her understanding of her vulnerabilities and attention to preventing them.
Finding little notes, recipes and newspaper cut outs in my Grandma’s cookbooks give me little snapshots and reminders of her every time, and maybe one day in another book I’ll find a scrap of paper with a recipe for her crumble.
For my crumble recipe I have used a combination of fruit which is slightly more Winter-y, however I thought equally as delicious and satisfying during any season. If you have some poached quinces definitely use them, they work so well with the crumble topping. If you wish to substitute the quinces for something else, I would suggest rhubarb (of course!), either sliced finely with a mandolin or lightly softened on the stove first - just keep the quantity of rhubarb about the same as the quinces or so it fits nicely into the dish you are using. If making, the ice cream should be made earlier in the day or the night before so it has ample time to freeze. It is quite a simple ice cream recipe, requiring no eggs just some sugar, milk, cream and vanilla. I would suggest doubling the ice cream recipe if you wish to feed more than 5 or so people.
Easy Vanilla Ice Cream
165ml full cream milk
6 tbsp white sugar
250ml pouring cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp vanilla bean paste
Whisk the milk and sugar together until the sugar has dissolved and the milk has become frothy. Then add the cream and both vanillas and whisk until combined.
Transfer mixture into the bowl of an ice cream machine, and process according to machine instructions. I found the churning process took about 10-15 minutes. Once ready, transfer ice cream into a freezer safe container and freeze for at least 2 or 3 hours.
Quince and Apple Crumble
6 poached quince, approx. 930g
2 Pink Lady Apples, approx. 250g
2 very small pears, approx. 140g
2 tbsp quince poaching liquid
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
75g unsalted butter, softened and cubed
110g plain flour
110g oats (not instant)
110g brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Remove the poached quinces from their poaching liquid, reserving the liquid. Roughly chop the quinces and place into a large mixing bowl.
Very finely slice the apples and pears (I used a mandolin), discarding the cores. Place in the bowl with the quince and gently mix together. Add the vanilla bean paste and the quince poaching liquid and mix again. Then tip the mixture into a 2-2.5L capacity pie/gratin/baking dish. Spread the mixture out so it sits in the dish evenly.
To make the crumble topping place the flour, oats and cinnamon into a mixing bowl then add the butter. Rub the butter into the flour and oats until the mixture starts to look crumbly. Add the sugar and mix well.
Spoon the crumble mixture over the fruit ensuring it is evenly dispersed. The thickness of your crumble topping will depend on the size and depth of your dish. I used a fairly deep dish so I ended up with a nice thick crumble topping.
Cook crumble for 30-40 minutes, or until the top has turned lightly golden brown.
Serve warm with the vanilla ice cream.
References: ‘Lomelino’s Ice Cream’ by Linda Lomelino (Roost Books, 2015), p.13: ‘Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course’ by Delia Smith (BBC Books, 1998), pp. 594-5.