Josephine Moon’s Rustic Apple Crumble Recipe (with Gluten Free Option)

I don’t know about you but I’m a total sucker for anything with baked apples in it. This recipe is a winner because it can be made gluten free and with a few tweaks it can even slide into the realm of being healthy. (Yep, I’ve eaten it for breakfast.)

Image-14

What I love about this recipe is that it is so flexible. In fact because I wanted to share this recipe so much, I had to force myself to write it down as I went because I usually make it up on the spot.

One of the opening scenes in The Cake Maker’s Wish involves an illicit apple crumble (you’ll have to read it to find out why that one is illicit!) and was inspired by my own trip to the Cotswolds in 2015.

This is a generous dish because you really do have the flexibility to make it all your own and I’ll leave you some notes on some suggested variations. Ready to get baking? Here we go.

Image-9

Josephine Moon’s Rustic Apple Crumble (gluten free optional)

Ingredients

  • 6-8 apples (a mixture of varieties is perfectly fine, and leaving the skin on adds nutritional value and the ‘rustic’ vibe… also, it saves time!)
  • 1 Tbs water
  • 100g butter
  • 60g brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (make sure they’re certified gluten free if you want it to be GF)
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup plain flour (or GF all purpose flour blend)
  • 1/4 cup sultanas (or cranberries, or other dried fruit)
  • 1/4 cup nuts, chopped roughly (walnuts are traditional but equally I have used pecans or almonds)
  • sprinkle of cinnamon (or nutmeg, or both) to taste
  • drizzle of maple syrup (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 190C (170C fan forced). Locate your cooking pot. I use a 25cm round cast iron pot with lid.
  2. Cut your apples into quarters to remove the core, then slice into approximately even slices (maybe 1-2mm wide). Layer them roughly into your pot, sprinkle with cinnamon, and add the tablespoon of water, which will give them a bit of steam to begin with.
  3. Combine your butter, sugar, oats, almond meal and flour into a bowl and work with your fingers to create sticky crumbles.
  4. Spread your sultanas and nuts over the top.
  5. Distribute your crumble topping evenly over the top and drizzle with maple syrup, if using.
  6. Place the lid on the pot and slide it into your pre-warmed oven for 15 minutes. Then remove the lid and leave to cook for another 25 to 30 minutes (depending on your oven) or until golden brown and apples are tender.
  7. Serve with cream, ice cream or yoghurt. Enjoy!

Image-13

Tips for healthier versions

  • Add chia seeds and/or coconut shreds to the crumble topping–this makes it worthy of being a breakfast food in my opinion 🙂
  • Reduce or even eliminate the sugar. I have made this with no sugar and you’d be amazed how much sweetness is in the apples already.
  • Choose plain, unsweetened yoghurt as your topping of choice.

 

Happy baking!

Jo x

Pre-order The Cake Maker’s Wish now. 

9780143792017

Chocolate is good for you!

Chocolate Mask Facial Spa. Beauty Spa Salon

My post-Easter message is one of happiness. Eat more chocolate!

I know what you’re thinking. More? Last weekend’s indulgences may already have you dreading the scales and reaching for lettuce. But, just for a moment, imagine a world in which chocolate was medicine.

I like to think it’s not too much of a stretch. You see, rainforest plants provide the chemical basis for a quarter of Western medications, yet only a small number of the total rainforest plant species have been tested by science to see what other wonder ingredients they have on offer.

Chocolate comes from the rainforests, growing in a small band of tropical climate zone either side of the equator. And the best news is that research reveals exactly what we want to hear: chocolate is good for you.

Actually, more specifically, cacao is good for you. Cacao (pronounced ka-cow) is where chocolate comes from. Cacao comes from the rainforest tree Theobroma cacao, which means food of the Gods (no argument here.) The tree produces flowers, a small percentage of those flowers turn into fruit pods, and inside each pod are beans covered in white flesh. Crack open the beans and you’ll find the cacao nibs—small, hard and bitter fragments that give us cacao.

Raw cacao and cocoa are different. Cacao comes from cold-pressing unroasted nibs, while cocoa powder is the refined, processed product that has been heat-treated, thereby changing the vitamins and enzymes. One is a whole food and one is not.

cocoa

This is an important difference. So before you run off to buy a truckload of high-fat, high-sugar, relatively inexpensive chocolate from the supermarket shelf (yes, the stuff you may have munched on over Easter), think again. After many years of researching (and eating) chocolate for my novel The Chocolate Promise, I’ve come to think of chocolate products as either confectionery or real food—there’s not much in between. I can eat shameful quantities of a certain type of milk chocolate in a day (because it’s confectionery) and far less of high-quality dark chocolate (because it’s actually real food, and therefore filling, nourishing and satisfying).

So what makes this real food so great? Raw cacao is bursting with phenolic phytochemicals (i.e. antioxidants), and minerals and vitamins (magnesium, iron and potassium to name a few). Some say it has the highest antioxidant of any food in the world. And many go so far as to call it a superfood. Backing this up, researchers at Cornell University (USA) found that cacao surpassed the antioxidant levels of both red wine and green tea. Antioxidants are the marvelous little scavengers that work to beat off cancer cells and heart disease.

Cacao also assists our own body to produce more of its feel-good hormones in the brain, namely serotonin and dopamine—it therefore has antidepressant qualities. It also contains phenethylamines, which help us to release endorphins, our ‘happy high’ hormone. And since the time of the Aztecs—clever people who worshipped cacao as the food of the Gods—it’s been a known aphrodisiac. Theobromine is a stimulant to the central nervous system and the heart. (But be warned, while we enjoy the effects of theobromine, it also makes chocolate toxic to dogs.)

In fact, there are more than seven hundred known components of chocolate and more not yet known. And the science says that cacao is good.

Having said that, not all chocolates are created equal and you need to know what you’re buying in order to benefit. Firstly, the price of the chocolate will give you a fair indication of quality. Next, look for the ingredients. You can make sweetened chocolate from just a few ingredients. I’ve handmade raw chocolate just from cacao, cacao butter, agave syrup and sea salt. That’s pretty much as authentic as you’re going to get. But if the ingredients are listing lots more than that, take note. Vanilla is used as a masking flavour to cover the (naturally occurring) variations between batches, while vanillin is a synthetic flavour.

And for goodness’ sake, don’t eat compound chocolate! It uses cocoa powder (of questionable value), ‘vegetable oil’ (which could mean anything) and a lot of sugar. I wouldn’t count on this for any medicinal qualities whatsoever.

The percentage of cacoa mass will give you some indication of quality as well. The higher the number then, potentially, the more health benefits (and less sugar) you’ll receive. I can enjoy up to 90% percent, though 70–80% is my preferred range. If you’re new to dark chocolate, try starting around 40% and working up.

Eat enough of the good stuff and your palette will change. Like all things, the more you educate yourself, the more you’ll learn to appreciate the immense varieties and value of chocolates out there. Better yet, you’ll be experiencing and receiving just a fraction of the amazing medicines the rainforest has to offer us, delivered in a silky smooth, universally-loved and endorphin-boosting treat. And in my dreams, maybe one day we’ll all be lucky enough to go the doctor and receive a script for chocolate.