We love to eat Mum’s delicious apple crumble
3oz (85g) vegan margarine (plus extra to grease dish
Grease a large casserole dish, then peel, core and slice the apples into the dish; the slices should be about the size of chunky thumbnails. Mix in the two tablespoons of sugar and the cinnamon.
To make the crumble, sieve the flour into a mixing bowl and rub in the margarine until you get a flaky consistency. Mix in the dark brown sugar and salt, and spoon the mixture evenly over the apples. Bake in a preheated oven at 190C/375F/gas mark 5 for an hour. Serve hot with custard, cream or ice-cream (or vegan equivalent). In the unlikely event of leftovers, these can be enjoyed cold the following day.
Growing up in the 1960s, I don’t remember Sunday lunch being a big deal in our house. My hard-working Communist parents were too busy with other activities, or ferrying us three kids around to music lessons and other weekend pursuits, and our grandparents were absent because of death or distance. But this favourite dessert, often served at the weekend, carries special memories.
The original recipe came from The Olio Cookery Book that my mum got free with her new electric cooker on marrying my dad in 1952; the cooker lasted them for at least 30 years. The page with this recipe on was the most used, stained and torn, and covered in Mum’s handwritten notes. She made so many changes over the years to quantities and ingredients that this recipe is really her own (my only addition is the cinnamon). As a child, I loved helping to peel and slice the sour Bramley cooking apples (bought in the greengrocer in the high street), and rubbing the margarine and flour between my fingers to make the crumble. The sweet smell of it baking would fill the house as we ate the boring main course, and when it was taken out and placed sizzling on the dining table, my brothers and I would vie for the best bits: the sticky toffee formed by the dark brown sugar that melted around the edges. Dark, soft, moist muscovado sugar was definitely the secret of Mum’s delicious crumble.
Her version of the recipe has survived because, aged 11, I copied it into the special notebook in which I recorded all my favourite recipes for sweets, cakes and puddings (including one from Blue Peter). After Mum’s death in 2001, I was pleased to find this notebook among her things, preserving her special apple crumble recipe. I’m not much of a cook myself, but I love to make this for visiting friends and family. I recently made one with the help of my young niece, happily crumbling the flour and margarine in her messy fingers just like I used to. It always goes down well – especially the toffee bits.