Fruit Crumble


Nigel Slater wrote in his memoir toast that even a bad crumble is good. It’s a point of comfort.

I’d agree with him except that one time I attempted to make a gluten-free crumble for a gluten-free guest. In the interests of being a thoughtful hostess, I provided a gluten-free crumble as well as a non-gluten free brownie for dessert. Naturally, that was when I discovered that the gluten intolerance this guest warned me she had wasn’t really a gluten intolerance but rather a vague desire to cut back on bread.

The brownies were a success, the crumble was not and my family made me promise never ever to mess with it again. My family, though, are fussy about their crumble and my daughter likes nothing more than the leftovers for breakfast the next day. As she justifies it, it contains oats, fruit, and, with custard on top, could almost be said to be a breakfast cereal. In all honesty, it probably has less sugar than some breakfast cereals.

So if crumble is that good, how about crumble two ways? Below I’ve given you my basic crumble recipe. I’ve also taken it one step further and turned it into a crumble slice. It has a biscuit base, and the fruit in the filling has been taken to an almost jam-like consistency before the crumble is sprinkled over the top.

This is great on its own with coffee, or dolloped with custard and eaten as a pudding. I’ll leave that decision with you.

Fruit Crumble

The crumble

  • 110g plain flour
  • 110g rolled oats (the traditional kind not the quick cook sort)
  • 90g brown sugar
  • 115g unsalted butter
  • pinch salt

Throw it all into the food processor and let it do its thing. It should end up resembling little bits of sand. Of course, you can also rub the butter into the mixture – if you’re so inclined.

The fruit

As for the fruit? I usually use a few apples (peeled, cored and chopped) and sometimes add whatever berries we have in the freezer. I do, however, take them out do defrost first. In total, I guess there’d be about 500g fruit all up. You can put them straight into the dish you’re cooking them in if you want, but I tend to heat them through on the stovetop with a little lemon juice and 1-2 tablespoons sugar.

Put the fruit into an ovenproof serving dish – I prefer a wider, shallow one so the juices can bubble through the crumble – and spread the crumble mix over the top. Bake it in the oven you’ve remembered to pre-heat to 200C for about 30mins or until the top is golden.

Serve it with ice-cream, custard, cream, a combination of, or all together…your call.

Fruit Crumble Slice

Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and line a slice tray (about 24cm x 30cm) with baking paper.

The biscuit base

  • 150g chilled unsalted butter, chopped
  • 2 cups plain flour, sifted
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly whisked
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Blitz the flour, butter and sugar in the food processor until it looks like fine breadcrumbs, then add the egg and vanilla and whiz it again.

Shape the dough into a ball, wrap it in clingfilm and pop it in the fridge for about 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and line a slice tray (about 24cm x 30cm) with baking paper.

The fruit

  • 2 green apples peeled, cored and chopped
  • 250g berries eg blackberries, raspberries. I use whatever berries we have in the freezer, but this doesn’t work as well with strawberries. If using frozen berries, take them out to defrost first.
  • Juice of one lime
  • ¼ cup caster sugar

Place all the ingredients plus ½ cup of water in a larger saucepan than you think you’ll need – the fruit needs room to simmer. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes. The apple should be soft and most of the liquid gone.

Remove it from the heat and allow to cool, then either puree with a hand-held blender or, if you prefer a little texture, squash the fruit about with a fork.

The crumble

Make the crumble as per the recipe above. If you want, you can substitute some of the flour and oats for a handful or so of toasted and chopped hazelnuts – but it’s just as good without. I do, however, add about ½ teaspoon of ground ginger.

Putting it all together

Remove the dough, flatten to a disc and roll it into a rectangle shape. I place the dough between two pieces of baking paper to do this. Place the dough in the base of your prepared tin. Don’t be too precious about this – I often just press it in.

Prick the base liberally with a fork and bake it for about 20 minutes – it should be starting to brown.

Once it’s out of the oven and cooled for about 5 minutes, spread the fruit over the base, toss over the crumble, and sprinkle with a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar.

Pop it back into the oven – this time for 25-30 minutes – or until the crumble top is golden.

Don’t even think of taking it out of the tin or attempting to slice it for at least 30 minutes – it needs that long to firm up.


Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

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