Vegans and Coeliacs alike will love this Vegan Apple Crisp (aka Apple Crumble) recipe. Try experimenting with whatever fruit you have to hand to reduce food waste, we used spare tinned pineapple!
An apple a day keeps the doctor away, or so the saying goes. But what to do if your apples are just a bit past their best? The answer for me is definitely a bit of sugar and cinnamon to make a tasty vegan apple crumble (that’s vegan apple crisp, to our American friends!)
My boyfriend and I found ourselves in this exact situation recently; we’d left the apples at the bottom of the refrigerator where we’d completely forgotten about them. The skins were a little wrinkly, but apples are a resilient fruit. While they didn’t look as crisp as they had when we first bought them, they still looked perfectly fine to eat.
As an apple lover I was surprised when my boyfriend said he’d never made crumble before. So, despite the apples slightly less desirable appearance, I showed him how – all the while promising that they would taste absolutely delicious baked into a crumble.
Why Crumbles Are Great
Crumbles for me are comfort food. My mum used to make them for me when I was a kid and they’re one of the first baked goods I remember feeling I’d truly mastered. One of the reasons is that crumble is REALLY easy to make, unlike a lot of other baking that requires careful measuring, determined whipping and patient sieving. Meanwhile a good crumble can be thrown together in no time and the result is always a gloriously wholesome and warmly reassuring delight.
Crumble should be embraced by coeliacs and gluten-free folk alike. Not only can you use pretty much any gluten-free flour (I use buckwheat as I like the flavour), you avoid many of the common gluten-free baking concerns. Will it rise in the same way? Will the texture be as good? This is because a crumble does not rise like a cake. Similarly, achieving a topping that is crisp and crumbly is easily replicated with gluten-free alternatives and a bit of hands-on mixing! I have always advocated the use of oats in my crumble topping, even before I had to give up gluten, as they add a lovely toasty taste and lend themselves really well to a perfect crumbly texture. A traditional crumble uses butter, but I’ve never considered this necessary. The butter is easily substituted with sunflower oil which means this recipe is vegan, and healthier due to less saturated fat.
Crumbles are a great way to reduce food waste because of the huge range of fruits you can use. In addition to diverting our Pink Ladies from the food waste bin, we also had the contents of half a tin of pineapple stashed away in some Tupperware in the fridge. I asked my boyfriend how he felt about it going in the crumble and I’m pleased to report that not only did he say yes, but that Apple and Pineapple crumble is totally yummy! The great thing from a food waste reduction perspective is that whether the leftover fruit is formerly fresh or tinned you could use just about anything.
Some Crumble Filling Ideas
- Pears, Peaches or Plums – Really anything with a decent fleshy texture that can withstand being baked without completely losing its structure.
- Berries – These make a great addition, blackberry and apple is a particular favorite of mine. However raspberries or blueberries would work fine too. These juicy little delights will burst in the crumble, but as long as you have a good ratio to firmer fruit like apples they will make the crumble extra saucy and scrummy!
That said, there are some fruits that do not lend themselves as well to crumble. This is just my personal view and I’m more than prepared to be proved wrong (let me know if you tried an unusual fruit in a crumble and it worked!). But if you’re new to crumble making I would try sticking with the above before expanding your horizons to more unusual combinations.
Fruits that I would avoid crumbling:
- Citrus – Clementines, satsumas, anything in the citrus range. The reason I don’t think this would work is citrus fruits contain a lot of pith, so while they’ll add extra moisture to your crumble the way berries will, a pithy crumble will likely be very unpleasant.
- Banana – Bananas have a strong flavor that will overpower the taste of any other fruit in your crumble. The banana will probably also turn to mush in a way that won’t taste good. If you have bananas – particularly over-ripe ones that you don’t want to throw in the bin – the best option is to bake them into banana bread.
I’d also caution against using exotic fruit in a crumble. We added pineapple to ours and it worked out great, but crumbles are traditionally an autumnal dessert using fruit from more temperate climates. Feel free to try using papaya if you want to see what will happen. However I’d advise against anything with a strong flavor such as mango, or anything that can be quite squishy such as a kiwi.
Vegan Apple Crisp Recipe
So, here’s how I make my ‘basic’ apple crumble. This recipe can be tweaked to include any of the fruits suggested above – get creative!
For the Filling
- 4 Pink Lady apples – (or roughly 400g of whatever fruit you have)
- 150g tinned pineapple pieces (or roughly whatever you have)
- 150g dried fruit – we used sultanas but use whatever you like best (optional)
- 100g brown sugar (more if you like it sweeter, or if your apples are older)
- 100ml orange juice (or whatever juice you have)
- ½ lemon (juice only) – or bottled lemon juice is fine
- 1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
- 1 tsp allspice (optional)
- ½ tsp ginger (or 1.5cm fresh, if you have it) (optional)
For the crumble
- 100g oats (make sure they’re not rolled in wheat if you’re making this gluten-free)
- 100 buckwheat flour (or whatever gluten-free flour you have)
- 100ml sunflower oil
- 50g brown sugar
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
- Chop your apples into bite-size pieces. I usually core and quarter them, and then cut each quarter into 4 roughly even-sized pieces. Remove any bruised parts of your overripe apples. You can also remove the skins if you like but I never bother.
- Place the pieces of apple in a bowl as you chop them and add a little lemon juice to prevent browning while you chop the rest.
- Add the pineapple, dried fruit, and sugar to the bowl and mix with a spoon
- Add the orange juice and cinnamon, All Spice and ginger (if using) and mix thoroughly to coat all the fruit
- Tip the fruit mixture into an oven-proof baking dish and evenly distribute
- Take the same mixing bowl (this saves time washing-up!) and add the oats, flour, and sugar for the crumble topping.
- Mix in the sunflower oil and blend into the dried ingredients with your fingers. The final texture should be slightly moist and crumbly. If you want it more crumbly add a bit more oil until it’s a texture you’re happy with.
- Sprinkle the crumble mixture over the fruit and bake for 25-30 minutes until the crumble is brown on top.
- Serve with vegan custard (we love Oatly!), cream, or ice-cream. It’s also absolutely yummy just on its own!
Ready For Some Apple Crisp Goodness?
I hope you enjoyed this Vegan Apple Crisp recipe. Let us know in the comments how your crumble turned out, and what fruit combinations you tried to help prevent food waste! And don’t forget to check out the rest of our blog to see what else we’ve been up to. Until next time!
Guest post by Katharine Blacklaws. Katharine is a writer who specializes in sustainability, waste reduction and the energy industry.