Strawberry and apple crumble – a nod to summer in mid-winter Malta. Rosy reds to cheer us and warm us between storms.
I’d heard that strawberry season had started so swung round to the farmers’ market on the way back from the school run. 8am, stalls bustling, warm sun, a still day. Fewer people on a Tuesday than on busy weekends, but each stall holder was proudly displaying those gigantic strawberries that are a hallmark of Malta’s crop. I bought a kilo for 8 euro; an indulgence I couldn’t resist. In that purchasing moment, it was summer five months early. But don’t let these airily light photos deceive…
I rushed home with this crumble recipe in mind wondering though if it would be a shame to cook them up when they were perfect whole and sweetness themselves – not always the case with winter strawberries. An hour later, mid way through photographing them, the day changed. The warm, gentle start became a ripping squall, evil black skies and a half hour of hail and brimstone. A hot pudding was on the menu as quick as the lightening flashes.
I’d had all the doors and windows open to air the house and let in some heat. In 30 seconds, all hell was let loose; a rustle of the palm tree was the first clue. Then came an ominous darkening in my study. Before I could peak out to see what was up, the house became a ship all at sea. Curtains tugging, shutters banging, washing ripping at the line like sails mid storm. I dashed up the spiral stairs in the gloom attempting to batten down top hatches before serious damage was done.
Later on, the sun returned. We’d survived the squall. Not so lucky an escape for others. As I drove to the school late afternoon, I noticed the landscape had changed since 8am. Heaps of white ice were banked up roadside reminding me of the snow and ice I drove on for weeks two winters ago in England. I passed a car riding a roadsign. A slide not a right-off smash, but it looked nasty all the same. Malta has winter and it’s started now! Thanks goodness for those strawberries bringing some cheer.
All images © Liz Ayling 2013
- 400g stawberries (give or take this amount; no need to be accurate)
- 3-4 medium-large dessert apples
- 250g plain flour
- 125g unsalted butter
- 100g Demerara sugar
- 100g rolled oats
- Preheat oven to 180°C.
- Rub butter into the flour until the mix is like fine breadcrumbs (you can do this in a food processor).
- Add rolled oats and sugar and set aside while you peel, core and cube the apples roughly and slice up the strawberries. Combine both fruit in a bowl.
- Butter your cooking dishes, either one large souflet size or 6-8 small ramekins.
- Spoon the chopped fruits into the dish, leaving a couple of inches at the top.
- Spoon over the crumble topping evenly, patting down a little. Sprinkle a little more Demerara on top.
- Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes (smaller dishes take less time) until lightly golden on top and some fruit has bubbled up a bit (that way, you know the fruit mix is cooked through).
- Serve immediately with cream or ice cream if desired. You can freeze crumbles and any leftover topping.