An Improvised Crumble

by Ippolita Douglas Scotti:

Statue at Accademia Gallery, Florence by Elizabeth Gracen

Yesterday was a boring, misty day in Florence, and I had an urge to bake. Yes, the urge—the unstoppable necessity of making something comfortable, warm, sweet, and delicious. All to welcome my boyfriend home with a special treat. Okay, we are over forty, so, let’s say he's the love of my life.


Problem: I opened the fridge and there was a void. Standing between a jar of almost-finished jam and a lemon, there was only a beautifully decorated antique porcelain butter holder with a half pat of butter inside. Nothing else. Damn. Since it was too late to go shopping (the grocery stores close early in Florence), I simply had no time.


When I looked around the kitchen, I found two beautiful apples, an orange, and some plumpy, sundried pitted prunes. With the help of some organic brown sugar and flour, I realized that I could make a great crumble.


I know, it sounds very British—it is not a traditional Italian recipe—but it is a quick and easy sumptuous dish made with low budget, basic ingredients. Besides, there will always be plenty of time to explore the glorious food of my country, si?


This crumble recipe is so easy, and we devoured it all!


Crumble with Apples & Prunes


For the filling:

2 Golden Delicious apples

A handful of pitted prunes, chopped

1 lemon, squeezed

1 orange, squeezed

A pinch of cinnamon

2 tablespoons apricot jam


For the crumble topping:

1 cup of all-purpose flour

4 tablespoons of brown sugar

A pinch of cinnamon

A pinch of nutmeg

½ cup of unsalted butter

lemon and orange zests, grated

Knob of butter for greasing the pan


Heat oven to 375° F.


Peel and slice the apples and pour them into a large bowl.


Grate the lemon and the orange zest and place it in another bowl.


Squeeze the lemon and the orange and pour the juice on the apple slices to avoid the oxidation and to give a bit of acidity, and toss.


Grease a baking pan with a knob of butter and neatly scatter the apple slices with their juice and a sprinkle with cinnamon.


Dollop the jam on top, along with the pitted prunes.


For the bowl of citrus rinds, add brown sugar, cold butter, flour, and a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg. Quickly work this into a rough dough with your bare hands and scatter this "crumble" on top of the apples.


Put the crumble in the oven and cook until it’s golden and crunchy—about 30 minutes. Serve hot.

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