You can't go wrong with a hearty apple crumble - quick, easy to make and easily improvised. This is a flexible feast because absolutely any fruit can be used. Recipe from Nick Wilkinson, the winging it chef.

Ingredients (Serves 5-6 ish)

1kg Apples

Lemon juice


Sweet spices (e.g. cinnamon, clove, nutmeg)


Dates optional – whatever you got!

½ pound/260g wholemeal flour

Rolled or porridge oats quantity not crucial but less than flour

Butter 125g

Fromage frais


  1. For the crumble, put the flour in a big mixing bowl. Take the butter straight from the fridge and cut into small chunks, put the chunks in to the flour, mix in a little a leave it while you do the apples, to let the butter soften a little.
  2. Cut the apples into equal size chunks (peel first if using Bramleys). 
  3. Squeeze some lemon juice over the apple chunks to help stop them form browning. 
  4. Spread them into an appropriately sized baking tray so they form a layer about an inch thick. 
  5. Sprinkle with sugar to taste (Bramleys will need extra sugar – sweet apples not much).
  6. Sprinkle spices on to taste – generally better on the gentle side. 
  7. Add e.g. raisins, dates if desired.
  8. Add a little liquid (e.g. a small teacup or half a mug) – water is fine, or apple juice is nice.
  9. Go back to the crumble mix. Make sure your hands are clean and dry. Using both hands, with left hand fingertips pointed at right hand fingertips, pick up a pile of flour and butter chunks.
  10. Gently rub your thumbs back and forth through the flour, scattering it back into the mixing bowl. Don't squish the butter! Keep going until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. It will happen – just keep going and don't be tempted to squish the butter to “hurry it along”. Really, don't. 
  11. Once the crumble mix is breadcrumby in texture, add sugar, spices and oats to taste. Add them slowly, taste, add more if necessary – remember you can always add more but you can't take it out! 
  12. Once you are happy with the mix, spread it over the apple, pat down to form a layer and bung it in the oven for 40-50 mins or until the crumble topping is golden brown and the apple base is bubbling hot. Serve with the fromage frais (or ice cream or crème fraiche or yoghurt or custard or whatever you have).

Advice from Nick Wilkinson (chef): 'Experiment at home, branch out, and use up what you have knocking about. Before you chuck something away, think about whether it could be used somewhere. Just remember, when winging it go easy on the seasoning and spices, and taste as you go. If you're not sure it's gonna work out, try out with a little bit first.'

Winging it mantras:

  1. You can always add more but you can't take it out!!
  2. Taste, taste, taste as you cook.

This recipe is from the Taste Not Waste cookery class, part of the Zero Waste Kitchen Challenge project in Swadlincote. The theme was 'winging it', so the recipe is a pretty rough guide.