Apple crumble using local Malang apples. JG Photos/Petty Elliott

For This Favorite Holiday Dessert, the Crumble on the Apple is the Icing on the Cake

JANUARY 04, 2015

Most of us are still very much in the mood of the holiday season, entertaining family and friends and feeling the joy that brings.

If you’ve been hosting guests for lunch or dinner in the past few weeks, then you have an idea of how important it is to have a variety of desserts. Dessert is probably the most important stage of the meal for most people, since it will be the last thing to eat before the party is over, and is usually the one dish that all people look forward to the most.

I love all kinds of desserts, from traditional Indonesian ones to classic French or Italian fare; from simple warm fried bananas with palm sugar syrup, cinnamon and coconut, to indulgent lemon tart or textured Valrhona chocolate tart with chocolate ganache.

But there’s something about apple crumble that makes me happy. I am drawn to its simplicity. Basically it’s apple slices topped with crumble — made from a mixture of flour, butter and sugar — and baked. It is very important to make the perfect crumble with crunchy bits and a golden hue. You may add a little bit oat or nuts to the flour mixture to get different flavors and textures.

It’s also really easy to make gluten-free crumble by simply replacing the flour with ground almonds or soya flour. And for an alternative filling, try replacing the apple with mixed berries or bananas.

Malang apples, a local, rather sour variety grown in Malang, East Java, which are similar to Bramley’s seedling apples, are perfect apple for making apple crumble  These two apples have slightly acidic flavor, which when baked imparts a touch of sweetness.

You can make this dessert in advance and serve it at room temperature, but I prefer a warm apple crumble with a dollop of good vanilla ice cream, cream or a mixture of cream and mascarpone cheese. It makes it more special.

For this week’s recipe, I have apple crumble with cinnamon and cloves, served with cream.  It’s really easy to make and you can make it for two or 20 or more. Enjoy!

Apple crumble with cinnamon and cloves

I add extract of mixed spice to this dish. It gives a beautiful fragrance and more delicious taste. You can make this in advance and warm in the oven before serving.

Serves 16 to 20.


For the filling: 2.1kg Malang apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced; 50gr sugar.

For the mixed spice:2 cinnamon sticks; 20 whole cloves; 125ml water.

For the crumble:600gr flour, sifted; 200gr sugar; 250gr chilled, unsalted butter.

You will also need a rectangular, ovenproof baking dish.


•Put the cinnamon sticks, cloves and water in a pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the liquid by half. Set aside.

•To make the crumble, combine the flour and sugar in a large bowl and add the butter. Use your hands to rub the butter with the flour mixture until the mixture resembles very coarse bread crumbs with a few larger lumps. You can also use a food processor to make instant crumble by pulsing the food processor 4-5 times. Transfer the mixture into a bowl and keep it in the refrigerator.

•Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

•Place the apple slices into a large bowl and add the sugar. Mix well.

•Strain the liquid from the spice extract into a bowl.

• Transfer the apple slices into a baking dish. Spread the spice extract all over the apple slices.

•Arrange the crumble all over the apple slices and bake for one hour or until the crumble starts bubbling and turns golden.

•Serve warm with cream or vanilla ice cream.