There’s something very special about a large group of people coming together to celebrate in happy unity. If you define a festival as a community gathering in celebration of a shared interest, then you could say they’ve been happening for thousands of years. In recent decades though, they have really come to the forefront with food, music, literature, film etc. all having a festival or two (and more) each year.
With the nights starting to close in earlier, the cold wind sweeping through and the coats coming out, you might be starting to look forward to Halloween and Bonfire Night. If you were to think of a traditional festival/carnival type food from this time of year, you might quickly conjure in your mind a crisp apple smothered in toffee perched on top of a stick. Sadly, as much as we would love to dedicate a recipe page to making a toffee apple, it can’t really be seen as “baking”. However, instead we’ve let it inspire our “Apple Crumble Bar with Caramel Sauce”
As ever, our healthy twist this week brings in ingredients that aren’t so naughty, but doesn’t sacrifice the delicious flavour. With old-fashioned oats and wholemeal flour instead of plain white flour, and maple syrup instead of sugar, you can have all the tastiness without the guilt. The caramel sauce is fat free, meaning you can have the usual portion of scrumptious sauce and maybe a little extra on top of that.
Preheat the oven to 180C/350°F, and coat an 8” square pan with non-stick cooking spray.
To prepare the crumble topping, mix together the oats, flour, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Make a well in the centre. Pour in the maple syrup and melted butter. Stir until fully incorporated.
To prepare the filling, toss the apples with the corn flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl until completely coated.
Transfer the filling to the prepared pan, and gently press down with a spatula. Sprinkle evenly with the crumble topping. The topping tends to clump, so try to break it up into fairly small pieces.
Bake for 50-60 minutes or until the apples are tender (use a fork). Cool completely to room temperature, then pop in the fridge for at least 3 hours before serving to allow the juices to fully thicken.
Whilst you are waiting for the crumble to cool down, combine the sugar and water in large saucepan. Stir it over a low heat for 1 minute until sugar is dissolved. Increase the heat to medium-high. Boil without stirring until sugar is light amber-coloured and just begins to smell like caramel (about 6 minutes). If sugar crystals form while cooking, periodically brush sides of pan with water. Immediately remove the pan from the heat. Let it stand 10 seconds.
Whilst stirring the sauce with a wooden spoon, add the evaporated milk very gradually. The mixture will froth up and the sugar may clump. Return the pan to the heat. Simmer over a medium-high heat, stirring frequently until the mixture is caramel colour, smooth and slightly thickened (it will take about 20 minutes). Watch it carefully and adjust the heat, stir or blow air on the mixture if needed to prevent it from boiling over. Sauce thickens as it cools.
To test it while cooking, place a few drops in a small dish to check the cooled consistency. When the caramel is done, cool it immediately in heatproof bowl.
Once you are ready, drizzle the sauce onto your apple crumble bar, pop the kettle on for an accompanying cuppa, and enjoy!