Apple, beetroot and walnut crumble

How about a colourful, creative twist to the classic crumble? Beetroot and apple prove to be a match made in heaven as Tess shows how to partner them for a satisfying and hearty crumble.

There has been a sudden deluge of apples in my garden, which has meant that for the last week my lawn has become a glorified bird feeding ground and kitty litter tray to all the local wildlife.

As the neighbour’s cat will testify, the apples have had their uses, but after a week of near misses, I know that luck will soon have me if I don’t put the apples to good use.

Either I get gathering or I will most likely end up on my ass amongst the wasps and rotten apple rejects.

So I have taken as many as my arms can gather and sacrificed them to the kitchen for a moment of baking therapy. I love baking, but it is not something I frequently do. I tend to think I am more at home on the stove top, poaching, pickling and frying. But as soon as I get to it, the waft of butter up my nostrils wins me over every time. It’s one of those smells that takes me back to my grannie’s kitchen and sends every tastebud rushing to the memories in its food bank and makes my mouth water in anticipation of the sweet buttery apple goodness in store.

Before I drool all over my keyboard discussing baking, let me explain why I have chosen the unlikely pairing of apple and beetroot in this crumble. You might be thinking it’s a bonkers combination but I assure you, in the most earnest fashion, that beetroot and apple are a match made in heaven.

When beetroot is roasted it intensifies its natural earthy sweetness, which really complements tart and tangy fruits, such as cooking apples, plums or greengages. In the past I have served baked apple with a sweetened beetroot puree, but nothing beats the combination of the two in a humble British crumble. It’s a colourful, creative twist on an old favorite and is a great way of sneaking veggies into kids. Although this is an indulgent pud, it’s still good to know that I am getting some vitamins whilst treating myself to a scoop.

One of my favourite optional additions is stem ginger. Add 3 balls of chopped stem ginger into the crumble base with the apples and substitute the muscavado sugar for a couple of tablespoons of the ginger sugar syrup.

Failing that an addition of 1 tsp of Allspice in the crumble topping keeps things festive for Christmas.





Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4
Scrub the beetroot thoroughly, then wrap them loosely in foil. Cook for 45-50 minutes or until the beetroot is soft and tender. Peel the fibrous outer skin off the beetroot and chop into small chunks
Reduce the heat of the oven to 140°C/gas mark 1
Pulse the flour, sugar, butter, salt in a food processor until the mixture has the consistency of wet sand. Turn the flour into a large bowl and mix through the walnuts
To make the filling, put the chopped beetroot in a food processor and briefly blitz. You want to retain a few small chunks, you don’t want it to be completely smooth
Tip the beetroot puree into a bowl and add the diced apples and muscavado sugar. Stir until well combined
Pour the filling into an ovenproof dish. Cover the fruit with the crumble topping, smoothing it over but leaving room for the flour to rise a little. Place the dish in the oven and cook until the apples are cooked through and piping hot. It will take approximately an hour but turn it halfway through cooking and check it after 50 mins, as ovens can vary

Tess Ward is a freelance cook, caterer, food writer and budding TV chef.

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