Saturday, August 27, 2011

An ode to the death of smears and soils

Surely it’s not just me... is anyone else having issues with the rising food vernacular of smears and soils? Seems far too toilet inspired for my tea and a serious case of rampant (read unnecessary) food title inflation.

When did a crumble become a soil? Why did crumble not do it for you menu-writing aficionados?

“Crumble” and all its wondrous, instant connotations, is as beautiful and poetical as it needs to be. Fewer words in the food dictionary, other than ice cream so instantly signify dessert. And I beseech you, how does ‘soil’ replace that very physical act of crumbling yourself – firstly to your self control then the glorious state of your heart and soul as that crunchy, buttery sweet goodness slides down your throat….

Hmpphhhhh – I think you soil types need to get out more.

So in a rampant rejection to all things ‘soiled’ and a welcome celebration of all things humble and crumble, a few ‘dressed’ versions for us to enjoy during these last gasps of cooler days.

Apple and Ginger Beer Tea-cup Crumble

Apricot, molasses, white chocolate and rosemary crumble

Spiced mixed berry and chocolate star anise crumble

Crumble - Basic
65g plain flour
25g caster sugar
50g butter

For the ginger beer crumble add a healthy pinch of ground ginger

For the white chocolate crumble add 75g good quality white chocolate plus leaves of 1 small sprig fresh rosemary.

For the spiced chocolate crumble add 1 tablespoon of dutch cocoa powder and a teaspoon of mixed spice and a small pinch of ground star anise.

Combine ingredients in a bowl, mix until a coarse breadcrumb consistency is achieved. Place into a baking tray lined with baking paper and brown in the oven until tanned and toasty. Usually about ten minutes at 180C.

Apple and Ginger Beer Filling
500 - 750g green apples peeled and roughly chopped
750ml ginger beer
4 tablespoons caster sugar (or to taste)
Squeeze of lemon juice

Add the apples and lemon juice to a large saucepan and cook down over a low heat until fruit has broken down to a compote consistency (lumpy cellulite liquid consistency)

In a separate saucepan add the gingerbeer and caster sugar. Over medium heat reduce the liquid until at least half and a syrup consistency is achieved. Pour syrup over the cooked apple and stir to combine.

Pour into oven proof teacups, top with crumble mixture and warm in a 180C oven for ten minutes or until browned on top and warmed through. Serve with a vanilla bean ice cream.

Spiced mixed berry and chocolate star anise crumble
500 - 750g mixed berries
1 teaspoon mixed spice
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 star anise, ground

Add the fruit,spices and caster sugar to a saucepan and cook over low heat for 10 - 15 minutes or until a nice compote, sticky fruity mess consistency is achieved. Pour into cooking vessels, top with the chocolate crumble and then cook in a 180C oven for 10 - 12 minutes until warmed through and the crumble is nice and crunchy.

Serve with vanilla or chocolate ice cream.

The apricot crumble is about to be published in a magazine so I have to wait but will post as soon as I can.



  1. So wait, they call "crumble"..."soil"? I'm confused...once you clear it up for my I will add my opinion to the matter.. :)

  2. Hi Chris,
    It depends on the restaurant. Bistro style restaurants seem to be doing soils which are just crumbles. But I should have been clearer, chefs using molecular techniques to create soils/sands etc are using a whole suite of interesting things like maltodextrin - a modified starch. The point is more about the "me too" trend to change the name of something without actually evolving the element of the dish.