Monday, 13 January 2014

Caramel Apple Crumble with Home Made Caramel Sauce

Readers, as we are now into the throws of yucky January I simply cannot resist a comforting, warming, British dessert at the weekend.  Yes folks, its time for the humble apple crumble.

I'm also entering this recipe into #recipeoftheweek hosted over at A Mummy Too

Delicious, simple to make and there’s only really four main ingredients...  

...Well unless you deal with requests from Mr What Claire Baked.  Ever since Florida, he has been obsessed with caramel sauce dips for apples.  We picked some up in Walmart and brought them home with us.  Supplies are since long eaten, so it was time to take matters into my own hands.  This wasn’t any apple crumble, this was going to be caramel apple crumble.

A tip – make your caramel sauce first, let it cool in a bowl, then add it to the recipe.

Readers take note – sugar and heat are a difficult combo.  I used the wet method -using sugar and water -which in theory is meant to be easier than dry (sugar only), but I still took two attempts.  Round 1 – I waited a little too long for a golden caramel colour and ended up with chocolate brown burnt sugar. I even managed to disintegrate the bin bag from the heat of my molten liquid.  Definitely not edible…
Gone too far - see burning around the edges!
Round two was much more successful – reduced the heat, had a little patience (in the words of Take That) and ended up with a pale caramel mixture which was ideal for sauce.
Caramel sauce success
So here goes…

Claire’s Caramel Apple Crumble with Home Made Caramel Sauce

Caramel Sauce

I adapted Gordon Ramsay’s recipe found here and did half quantities
(there’s still some left, so this serves three, plus extra)


125g caster sugar
6 dessert spoons water
85ml double cream
25g butter


  1. Tip sugar into heavy based saucepan and add 6 dessert spoons water.  Stir to mix.
  2. Place pan over a low to medium heat and do not stir. Watch for sugar melting and swirl pan if necessary.
  3. Turn up the heat to medium and keep a close eye on the sugar as it boils.
  4. When the mix starts to turn from clear bubbling to a pale gold, take off the heat and carefully stir in the butter and cream. 
  5. Stir until smooth and combined, then transfer to a heat proof dish to cool.

Claire’s Caramel Apple Crumble

Ingredients - serves 3

4 apples (I used Royal Gala which were left in the fridge)
100g caster sugar
150g plain flour (again for gluten free – switch to gluten free flour)
75g butter
Your home made caramel sauce
Ground cinnamon


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 if you are planning to cook the crumble right away.
  2. Fill a pan with water and a squeeze of lemon juice (I like to keep a bottle of lemon juice in the fridge for times like these). Peel and core your apples, then cut into chunks and place in the pan to stop them browning.
    Apples in pan with lemon juice and water to prevent browning
  3. Drain the water from the pan and add half the caster sugar and 2 tablespoons of water, then place on the hob, with the lid on, at a medium heat.
    Ready to go on the hob
  4. Keep checking and stirring the pan and once the apples are beginning to soften, add a pinch of ground cinnamon (if this is to your taste).
  5. Stir in 3 teaspoons of your caramel sauce towards the end of cooking and cook through, stirring regularly until combined.
  6. Remove apples from heat and transfer to an oven proof dish.  Pour on a little more of your sauce if desired.
    In oven proof dish, ready for crumble
  7. Whilst cooling, make your crumble by adding the flour and cubed butter to a bowl. Rub both together with your hands until large breadcrumbs are made.  Then, stir in the remaining sugar and mix well.
    Crumble ready to go on top of the apples
  8. Pour the crumble evenly over the apples and bake for 25-30 minutes.
    One fully assembled crumble
  9. Remove from oven and serve with vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce.
    And serve!

Claire’s Tips

  • You can make both parts of the crumble in advance.  Just cool the filling before you reheat with the topping. The topping can be made in advance and stored in a bowl with cling film covering, in the fridge. (Bring back to room temp before cooking).
  • Try a tablespoon of brown sugar in your topping for a little extra crunch.
  • Try adding some raspberries to the filling, when in season, for a more tart flavour, as this recipe is quite sweet.
  • The filling would also be good for an apple pie – scale up accordingly. 

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Home-Made Sun Dried Tomato & Black Olive Bread

Readers, it’s officially all over for another year.  Roasted chestnuts have been consumed, yuletide carols were sung by many choirs and folks may well have dressed up like Eskimos… but who are we to stop them?

We took the decorations down today, so the house is looking rather bare, I have to say. 

Like previous years, I had great intentions of making baked goodies as gifts, but time just didn’t permit.  AGAIN.  My last post Christmas Cupcakes does show what I managed, which was a step forward from 2012. I did however, have time to make some loaves of bread for our festive dining. 

I am a sucker for home made bread. I can’t see past it.  The stress relief from kneading dough, the smell of the bake… it’s my favourite.  It may be carbolicious (great new word!) but at least I know my own bread isn’t packed with preservatives or any other nasties.

I’ve made bread from packs before, but never from scratch.  So this was a first attempt.  The recipe made two loaves – the first we enjoyed on Christmas Eve with baked Camembert.  The second accompanied home-made prawn cocktail for Christmas dinner with the leftovers being put out for our Boxing Day buffet. 

Bread making is a time consuming process, but it's well worth the effort as the end result is delicious and has such a depth of flavour, compared with mass made counterparts. 

This recipe came from our local paper, The Courier, who had a pull out Love Baking series in autumn 2013.   I’ve made some small adaptations, to suit our tastes, which is the recipe below.

Sun Dried Tomato and Black Olive Bread

Ingredients (makes 2 loaves)

400g Plain Flour (I just use supermarket own brand) plus extra to dust
1 teaspoon salt
1 sachet dried yeast (available in most supermarkets)
1 teaspoon soft brown sugar
1 tablespoon dried thyme, or fresh if available (chopped)
200ml lukewarm water
4 tablespoons olive oil plus extra to brush loaves
80g black olives, stoned and sliced or chopped to your liking
100g sun dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped
1 egg yolk (beaten)


  1. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl, then stir in yeast, sugar and thyme. 
  2. Make a well in the centre of the bowl and pour in the water and olive oil. Stir to mix with a wooden spoon until dough comes together.
  3. Knead in bowl with hands until the dough leaves the sides of the bowl.
  4. Turn out onto a mat or clean worktop.  Use a little olive oil on the mat and your hands, before starting to knead.
  5. Knead in the chopped olives and sun dried tomatoes and knead for a further 5 minutes. Dough should be smooth and elastic.
  6. Brush a clean bowl with olive oil. Shape dough into a bowl.  Cover the bowl with a hot damp tea towel and leave dough to rise in a warm place for around 1h 30 mins, or until the dough has doubled in size.
    Ready to be covered with a damp tea towel
  7. Dust a baking sheet with flour.  Remove the dough from the bowl and place onto a mat/worktop. Cut the dough in half.
  8. Using oiled hands, shape each half into an oval shape.  Place on the dusted baking sheet and recover with a damp tea towel. Leave to rise for an additional 45 minutes.
  9. Preheat your oven to 200◦C/400◦F/Fan 180◦C/ Gas 6.  Uncover dough and make three shallow diagonal cuts in the top of each loaf.  Brush each loaf with beaten egg yolk.
  10. Place tray in preheated oven and bake for around 40 minutes until golden brown.  Loaves are cooked when tapped on base with knuckles and a hollow sound is produced.
  11. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
    Ready to serve

    Close up - a decent first attempt!

 Claire’s Tips

  • These loaves don’t contain preservatives, so keep in an airtight container and eat within a couple of days.
  • Those on a gluten free diet, could try this recipe substituting the listed ingredients for gluten free variants. 
  • Using olive oil rather than flour on your hands helps to keep the dough moist. However, if it gets too wet, just add a sprinkle of flour to your hands and mat, then keep kneading.
  • Ideal served with baked cheeses, home-made soup or in the bread basket at a dinner party.

 P.S. – Here’s a great use for a round loaf, from a recent trip to Budapest.  Why serve your soup in a ceramic bowl, when you can serve it from an edible one?  Goulash Soup was enjoyed at a festive market, where we ate the contents, then ate the lid, then ate the bowl. No waste and no pesky dishes!!!!

Goulash soup in Budapest at the Christmas Market