Apple and banana crumble with vanilla sauce.

Apple banana crumble served with vanilla sauce.
Photo © J E Nilsson and C M Cordeiro-Nilsson for CMC 2010

With very hot weather in Sweden comes tropical rainstorms that makes headlines in the news, a raging wind and a pouring of warm luscious drops of water from the skies with which the Swedish westcoast borders on inability to cope. But that’s Sweden.

Being one of the few individuals now living here to have grown up in tropical rainstorms, I revel in such weather and thought this sticky, molten fruit dessert served with a thick vanilla cream sauce would put everyone at home back in their comfort zone again.

This apple and banana crumble or cobble, that had found its way both to Singapore and Sweden, has its roots in cottage country Britain, during WWII actually when pastry rations were restricted to make proper pies. Actually the word ‘cobble’ would be right at home in Sweden too in describing this dessert since it calls to mind the narrow cobblestoned pavements that once was carriageway for horses of both Gothenburg’s and Stockholm’s Gamlestan / Gamla Stan.

Apples and bananas, chopped, drizzled with dark syrup.

Apples and bananas, chopped, drizzled with dark syrup.

I started out making this dessert back in secondary school in my teens, with only flour and butter for the crumble on top, but these days, I make them with rolled oats in combination with flour and butter on top because the resulting texture of crisp, baked to a deep golden brown coupled with the smooth melt of warm caramelized fruit on the tongue eludes sensory description.

Today, there are literally hundreds of ways you can make this dessert, using all sorts of fruits of your preference, apricots, peaches, pears, rhubarb, different varieties of apples etc. Here’s just one version with apples and bananas since that’s what happened to be available at the time when I myself craved for this dessert as the rains pattered on the kitchen glass panes.

Mixture of rolled oats, flour, raisins and butter on top of the apples and bananas.

Mixture of rolled oats, flour, raisins and butter on top of the apples and bananas.

What I especially like is muscovado sugar or dark maple syrup over the fruits before the rolled oats on top. Alternatively, you could use caster sugar or honey, depending on your taste preference for your perfect fruit crumble dessert. Cinnamon is also a spice that I love though it can be overwhelming if you have too much on the fruits, again, you can do as you like and decide whether or not to use any spice at all in your favourite version of this dessert. Below is my recipe for this version of apple and banana crumble.

Butter on top of the rolled oats and flour for the apple and banana crumble.

Butter on top of the rolled oats and flour for the apple and banana crumble.

Ingredients to Apple Banana Crumble
Serves ca. six to eight.

90g plain flour
90g rolled oats (I tend to use more rolled oats than flour sometimes)
120g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
*100g muscovado sugar (adjust according to your preference)
5 medium sized apples, chopped
3-4 bananas, peeled and sliced
40g raisins
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp cinnamon for dusting over the chopped fruits
Pinch of salt
*Here I’ve used a dark maple syrup.

Ingredients to Vanilla Cream sauce
200 ml milk
200 ml cream
3 whole eggs
2 vanilla bean pods, scraped
80g sugar (add more or less, according to your preference)

Using a cheese cutter to shave butter is effective for this apple and banana crumble project.

Chef’s tip: Using a cheese cutter to shave butter is effective for this apple and banana crumble project.

Method for the Crumble

Butter an oven-safe dish and line the base with the chopped fruits, squeezing the lemon juice over the fruits. Dust the muscovado sugar over the fruits evenly or if you’re using maple syrup, drizzle it evenly across the fruits, it doesn’t matter if the sugar / syrup doesn’t touch every single piece of fruit – that’s the dribble effect that you want when serving anyway.

Rub-in and combine the butter, rolled oats, flour and salt. Add the raisins. This is a very quick process and what you’re looking for is a rocky consistency to the mixture. Pour this over the fruits and then layer some butter atop the mixture so that it helps the top get brown and crisp during the baking.

Into the oven for ca. 45 minutes at 175C.

In a scoop, apple and banana crumble.

In a scoop, apple and banana crumble.

Method for the Vanilla Cream sauce
Combine the milk and cream in a pot, set on low heat. In another pot, whisk the eggs and sugar till they turn a light frothy yellow. Once the milk and cream is warm, temper the eggs with the warm cream, making sure that no lumps form during the process. Once the eggs are tempered, all of it goes into the pot, into the cream, on low heat for about 10 minutes. The mixture in this time, will thicken enough to coat the back of a spoon. Take it off the heat and chill in the refrigerator ca. 4 hours if you want chilled vanilla cream sauce with the crumble. Overnight chilling is fine too.

Served, apple and banana crumble with rolled oats and raisins.

The ineffable tempt of golden brown crisp and warm molten fruit.

I literally love the look and feel of this hearty dessert that when served, seems recklessly tossed together without much effort or care. And true, it isn’t much effort at all, the prep time being less than 20 minutes before it goes into the oven.

The quantity of this dessert is easily varied, so it is one of the best desserts to make if you’re having a large dinner crowd over at your place. And when it comes to summer time parties, this dessert runs highly unsurpassed in how readily it gratifies and rounds off a good evening meal.

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