This may come as a surprise to some of you, but Halloween is not originally an American custom. I say this particularly for non Anglo-Saxons, the majority in fact of my readers. Halloween in fact comes from the Old World and has probably been around in some form or other for thousands of years. Historians point to Dumha na nGiall), a passage tomb in Ireland built around 3,000 BC that is aligned to the sunrise on the 31st of October. They also mention links to the old Celtic festival of Samhain that again was celebrated on the 31st of October.
If further proof were necessary, the origins of the word Halloween go back to Old English, a language in use more than 500 years before Columbus’s outing to the New World. Halloween means holy. For my Spanish readers, who are in fact the second largest group, let me just compare “The Lord’s Prayer” first in English:
– Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name;
and in Spanish:
- Padre nuestro que estás en el cielo, santificado sea tu Nombre;
The recent celebration of Halloween had me thinking about how it has changed over the years, how it has been commercialised. What was once a time of remembering departed family and friends has turned into a costume party of “tick or treat” and crazed homicidal clowns. By the way, next year when the children come knocking, you should be giving out fruit…… yes, doctors have decided that giving out sweets is not the healthy thing to do! Just for the record, I am not against eating in a healthy manner, far from it…… but I do believe it is important to treat oneself from time to time.
All these Halloween celebrations had me thinking back to my youth and how we used to celebrate Halloween. The one custom I remember well was Apple Bobbing. How many of you have heard of, or even better tried apple bobbing? I remember playing it when I was 9 or 10 at Trawden School. As I have readers from back home, some of you may even remember it too.
Trawden school was built with two floors with the older children on the upper one. The classroom at the bottom left, opposite Ma Alton’s classroom for those who remember, was where we did the bobbing. The teachers would fill an old metal tub with water, throw in a lot of apples and leave us to try and catch them with our teeth. Trawden really was a great school and I can still remember well the teacher of the senior class, Mr. Scott. At the end of each day he would read to us from a book. He introduced me to “The Hobbit” and I will always be grateful to him for the time he dedicated to reading to us all. The Hobbit and other stories showed us the wonders that were to be found within books and for me at least, led to a lifelong love of books.
Anyway, back to those apples……. well almost. We had some friends over a couple of weeks back, an ex work colleague, her husband and son Elías, who I think deserves a special mention. Not only is he a reader of these articles, but to the best of my knowledge is the youngest reader! Thanks Elías.
We drove across the hills to a botanical trail in the next village, Almonacid de la Sierra. The route is engaging, with educational information on the flora as well as the odd bit of rope climbing up the steeper banks or quaint wooden bridges over the occasional ditch. Weather-wise it was also interesting with banks of fog pushed up from the valley alternating with clear blue skies and sunshine. The main Ebro valley below is prone to heavy fogs at this time of year. Here we are much higher up and are generally affected little. There are times however when the winds can push the fog up here into the mountains.
All the walking of course gave us an appetite, luckily we had a meal prepared which included an apple crumble. As you will have seen from the title above, the article this week is about apple crumble.
I hate to throw anything away, as the saying goes “waste not, want not”. A basic apple crumble with nice tart cooking apples is delicious. This classic British pudding is oft forgot. There are lots of more sophisticated time-consuming recipes out there, but there is nothing better, quicker and simpler than a crumble for when the apple glut hits. A crumble is just about the easiest pudding to make and they are also very easy to freeze. You can pop them in the oven straight from the freezer so you don’t have to remember to take them out beforehand. Serve with hot custard or whipped cream…… heaven on a plate.
Apple and Caramel Crumble
3 Cooking apples
Bottled caramel syrup
Dice the apples relatively small. I like a small dice as it allows me to pack more apples into the baking dish!
Mix together the apples with the filling ingredients.
Put the now sugar coated apples and any remaining sugar and flour into a baking dish.
Drizzle a layer of caramel on top.
Rub together the dry topping ingredients, flour, sugar and butter to form crumbs.
For more details on rubbing in please click here.
Sprinkle the topping over the filling.
Sprinkle a little brown sugar on top.
The pudding can be frozen at this point. When ready to eat put into the oven still frozen but give it a little more time to cook through. If the top is nice and brown, and the fruit mixture is just starting to bubble around the edges, it is ready.
Bake for 60 minutes at 180°C.
Remove from the oven and drizzle with another layer of caramel to decorate.
Although the recipe today has the added twist of a touch of caramel, there are many other flavour combinations you might want to try. You could mix the apples with rhubarb, sultanas or blackberries. You could use cinnamon instead of caramel. Apples really are so versatile and the combinations are almost infinite!
You can use any sort of apples, but I prefer cooking apples as they break down better when cooked.
For pouring custard to go with the crumble please click here.
For my Cinnamon Crumble Cake, that has a crumble topping, click here.
tsp – Teaspoon – 5ml
tbsp – Tablespoon – 15ml
Imperial to Metric Measurement:
1 oz – 28g
1 lb – 16 oz – 454g
1 gill – ¼ pint – 142ml
2016 Lincoln W. Betteridge