I have a pretty big collection of cookery books, most of which have really beautiful pictures of finished dishes in them, often in settings that evoke the feelings of a season or a location that inspired them. We eat with our eyes so they say, so it’s understandable that we are drawn to cook the recipes that we can see. And, if it’s something unfamiliar, at least we know what it’s supposed to look like when we’re finished! So, it’s easy to overlook the books that don’t have pictures, but should we? My friend Lynne bought me a copy of the late, great Jane Grigson’s ‘English Food’ which contains not a single picture, however, it is beautifully and knowledgeably written and full of fantastic recipes that I am now resolved to make full use of. If you’re serious about understanding and appreciating our national food heritage, there’s no better book on the topic. More importantly, the recipes do actually work whereas the ones in many of the glossier, celeb fronted, photo-stuffed tomes often do not!
I bought some beautiful fresh apricots from the Bury St Edmunds market on Wednesday so I started my ‘English Food’ recipe campaign this weekend with an adaptation of her crumble recipe. Dear Reader, it was properly scrumptious!
You will need…
- 12 fresh apricots (this recipe serves 4 to 6 easily)
- 30g golden caster sugar
- 30g flaked almonds
- 65g plain flour
- 50g golden caster sugar
- 65g ground almonds
- 25g jumbo oats
- 90g butter, chilled
- Preheat the oven to 200°C
- Place the ripe apricots into a large bowl and pour a kettle of boiling water over them – enough to cover. Leave for a couple of minutes, drain off the water and then the furry skins should slip off easily.
- Cut each skinned apricot in half and place in a shallow baking dish. Dredge with 30g of caster sugar.
- Reserve the apricot stones, crack them with a nutcracker, remove the little apricot kernels, chop roughly and scatter over the fresh apricots. This adds a lovely, slightly bitter, almond flavour and a little extra texture.
- To make the crumble, mix the butter, flour, sugar, ground almonds and jumbo oats together. Rub the butter into the dry ingredients until it goes crumbly and spread it evenly over the fruit mixture.
- Scatter the flaked almonds over the top.
- Bake on a tray (stops the bottom of your oven getting covered in apricot juices if it bubbles over a bit) at 200°C for 20 minutes, then at 180C for a further 20 minutes.
- When the top is nicely browned, not burnt, it’s done.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool a little. Serve with cream.
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