So my quick fix recipe of fruit crumbles involves chopping the fruit in question, layering it in the base of a baking dish or individual bowls or ceramic mugs, topping it with a crumble topping and baking till browned and crisp. Sometimes I use the fruit raw, sometimes I like to pre cook the fruit before baking, depends on the firmness of the fruit being baked or if I like it firm or gooyi. For stove top version I just cook the fruit with a little sugar to make it soft, transfer it to serving bowls and top it with a mix of crushed oats cookie and roasted nuts.
This apple crumble with infused flavors is a trial to incorporate the goodness of herbs and aromatics in the dessert. It worked really nicely and I could feel the fresh flavors of the herbs and nuttiness of the crust. I am definitely going to bake fruit crumbles with more herbs in future.
I have had my share of herb-tea infusions earlier, with food and with my drinks but baking with green tea and a herb is something I learnt from what Chef Saby did recently. The occasion was a pairing of tea with food at Miele, and Chef Saby (Sabyasachi Gorai) and Anamika Singh (of Anandini) greeted us with so many tea-herb infusions in different moods and foods. More about that a little later, let me introduce you to this wonderfully aromatic apple crumble. I usually mix up 2-3 varieties of apples to get a complex apple flavor, this time I had Himachal apples and Fuji so that was it.
I bake this crumble mostly with only almond meal for the crust layer but since we have been having way too much almonds otherwise these days, I decided to dilute the almonds with some oats. With just the almond meal for crust, with added herbs or spices and no added sugar, it makes a perfect dessert meal for the husband. A flour less, sugar less dessert is not that tough to bake. He loves it with a generous drizzle of honey as the sweetness of baked apples is quite pleasant. I am not the one who would like dessert meals, the egg scrambles and soups are more my kind of simpler home cooked meals.
apples 2 (I used one Himachal apple and one Fuji)
lime juice 1 tsp
almonds 30 gm
oatmeal 25 gm
butter 1 tbsp (just eyeball it, not need to weigh)
green tea 1/2 tsp
dry rhododendron petals (or dry rose petals) 1 tbsp or a handful
dry tulsi inflorescence or tulsi seeds or tulsi leaves, whatever you get and use to taste
sugar 2 tbsp (optional)
do not add any artificial sweetener, a drizzle of honey over warm crumble will do the trick
a baking dish of about 500 ml capacity
Dice the apples and arrange them in the baking dish. You might want to peel the apples or cook them slightly with some sugar and lime juice, may be some cinnamon, but for once try and baking them as it is.
Powder everything else in food processor and layer it on top of the apple layer. Lightly press using your fingertips and bake in a preheated oven at 180C for about 25 minutes. If the crust starts browning too much, transfer it to the lower rack and bake till a thin skewer test shows softened apple dices.
Serve hot or warm with whipped cream, ice cream or a custard. I served it with a simple custard flavored with cinnamon powder to accentuate the herb/spice flavors in it.
Now coming to the inspiration behind this baked dessert with tea and herbs in it. I tasted a miniature puff pastry and a cinnamon and raisin scone baked with Anandini tea blends. The flavors of herbs were so intense even when the cookies were baked, not brewed in water as we taste the tea-herb infusions normally. Baking helped the aromas to seep into the cookies really well.
The high tea event had loads of nibbles that teased the palate with lingering flavors of herbs and a hint of tea as well. I loved the chicken smoked and infused with First flush tea, lavender and lemon grass. This was such a delight, melt in the moth chicken with wonderful aromatic flavors and doused lightly with balsamic reduction.
Another favorite was a tea, a black tea smoked with pine needles. This was addictive. Oh I so want that cuppa as I write this.
And this chocolate mousse infused with autumn tea, lemon balm and rose petals. I wouldn't have thought of marrying chocolate with tea and herbs. Now I know I will be doing a lot of such experiments thanks to Chef Saby and Anamika.
An apple pound cake with a tea infused custard was really really good too. I rarely finish my desserts, this one was so lightly sweetened and perfectly balanced, highlighted with aromatic rose and herbs. Served in large bowls this was actually a large portion but done so well that everyone finished it in quick spoonfuls.
Some more hot chocolate infused with tea and herbs, some more chatter at Miele center, I came back home with a lot of tea ideas floating in my head.
I had some Rhododendron petals that I collected during my walks in the hills of Shimla. I am intending to make some rhododendron sherbet very soon. Tulsi seeds were collected from my own plants, these are supposed to be febrifuge (antipyretic). Tulsi is a good aromatic herb that relieves tension headaches and hence is a regular at my place. Infused into my tea or chai, or even in my soups sometimes, tulsi makes life better when there is a headache. Cinnamon also relieves headaches and the custard actually made it quite a relaxing aroma to inhale :-)
How about an apple crumble relieving your headache?