This week I have mainly been thinking about food. In this house we all love a bit of crumble. Both G and I have cooked it for years. But each time we make it, it never seems to be quite as good as a crumble should be. You know - a gooey, fruity, sticky, crumbly crumble - just like the one your mother or your grandmother used to make when you were small. We come close - our crumbles are good - but they never seem to be quite as wonderful as the ones in our memories.
At the weekend, C shinned up our tree to pick the first bowl of 2009 cherries. He carried on picking, and climbing further and further up the tree until he was absolutely certain that he had enough for a cherry and apple crumble. I didn't really fancy making a crumble in the pulsating temperatures of last weekend, so I was fobbing him off with phrases like "Oh, you need LOADS of cherries to make a crumble, darling" and "I'm not sure there are enough ripe cherries yet for a crumble".
Then he fell out of the tree. Fortunately while I was not looking, and fortunately into the middle of the sweet orange bush. He limped inside with a scraped elbow and a sprained ankle and asked rather pitifully if his bowl had enough cherries for a crumble yet? Goodness, the guilt. I had my apron on and the mixer going before he'd even hobbled off to the sofa.
I vaguely remembered the last crumble G had made had rather a good topping. It was the plum crumble from my favourite summer recipe book, Sarah Raven's Garden Cookbook. So I took the topping from that book and paired it with the filling from Annabel Karmel's Family Meal Planner. And you know what? It was The Best Crumble I Have Ever Made. Really. The Sarah Raven topping is heavy on the butter and gives a cakey, rich crumble - crucially not too dusty nor too oaty. I substituted almond flakes for hazelnuts but otherwise did exactly as she said. The secret to Annabel Karmel's filling is that she just briefly stews the fruit for a few minutes in a tablespoon of brown sugar to soften and sweeten it by precisely the right amount. Together these women work magic, I tell you.
Of course, there are no pictures. Like Driftwood's pavlova, we ate up every last scrap before I could get my camera out. Yum!