Did you know? Am I the last person to find out?
The epiphany came from my having to come up with a non-dairy, butterless dessert, and so – asking round amongst my friends and colleagues, I was directed to this recipe, which comes straight out of the Neria-Naria woman’s cookbook. Now it’s the only way I cook all my crumbles. (And I’ve made quite a few.)
There are several benefits, too. First, the crumble topping is considerably faster to mix: measure the ingredients, combine in a bowl, stir with a fork, and that’s it, you’re done. No dicing of butter, and no rubbing either. It takes five minutes tops, including the time to put all the ingredients and utensils back where they belong and wipe down the counter if you’ve spilled a little flour, which no recipe prep time in the world accounts for.
Second, I find that the absence of butter shifts the balance of flavor so that the (good unrefined) sugars that you use, the spices, and of course the apples themselves, sing through with a more subtle complexity.
And third, those who avoid dairy for whatever reason will be grateful for an apple crumble they can eat, especially one that can stand proudly on its own, without the crutch of crème fraîche or ice cream that seems to be automatically tacked on.
One more note about the Neria-Narian apple crumble : the lady herself recommends that you half-peel the apples in alternating strips. Not because she’s half-lazy, but because she likes the rustic touch of finding a few pieces of apple skin in her crumble, and half-peeled apples deliver just the right amount. You might also experiment a little and pick a mix of apple varieties to get as vivacious an apple taste as possible.
I hope you’ll give it a try.
Neria-Naria Butterless Apple Crumble
– 100 grams (3.5 ounces, about 3/4 cup) flour (I use spelt flour)
– 100 grams (1 cup) rolled grains of your choice (oat, spelt, wheat, rye, quinoa, rice, barley… or a mix thereof)
– 50 grams (1/4 cup) rapadura sugar
– 50 grams (1/4 cup) unrefined blond cane sugar (you can use the combination of unrefined sugars that you prefer, or just one)
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
– 1/2 teaspoon mango powder (at Indian markets ; substitute the spice of your choice)
– 80 ml (1/3 cup) oil (I use a bottled blend of four organic oils)
– 1.5 kilos organic apples (3 1/3 pounds, about 8 medium), preferably a mix of varieties, some that keep their shape when cooked, some that don’t