This is very much a return to basics with the modest crumble, arguably one of the best and easiest comfort foods there is. Whether eaten with ice cream or hot custard, a crumble takes moments to prepare, will bake quite happily without attention and is a joyous way to end any meal.
Who doesn’t love a fruit crumble? With the somewhat gloomy weather we have been having here in the UK, what better way to brighten up a day than with this classic dessert.
Inexpensive, quick and no-nonsense, it really is a matter of a few minutes preparation and then baking at your convenience.
The topping: textures!
While the fruit filling has to be excellent, it is more about the topping with a crumble for me: you need to be generous with it so you have a bit of it underneath that is wonderfully gooey (but cooked!) where the crumble mixture soaks up some of those great juices from the fruit. Yet you want a crisp, but not blackened, surface.
I like to use a little wholemeal flour as I love the flavour it brings, but you can use all white flour.
I use more butter in the crumble than some recipes – not just because butter is a truly wonderful ingredient (and this is, after all, full-on comfort food), but you get a less dry topping with more butter, but without it all going claggy.
I like to add ground almonds to the crumbed mixture, or either ground or crushed walnuts. The nuts add a great flavour, but rolled oats work excellently too. Or else omit them entirely.
A lot of great fruit are currently in season here in the UK and I am currently picking raspberries, blackberries, rhubarb and apples from the garden and the allotment. Not to mention a few hedgerows near me which are abundant with plump blackberries: I do like a bit of naughty foraging!
Although I am using fresh fruit at the moment, the crumble works brilliantly with fruit that has been frozen. So if you have hedgerows nearby, go and raid them and freeze the fruit until you want to use it. You don’t even need to defrost the fruit either: just place in an ovenproof dish, top with the crumble mixture and bake.
Another blackberry and apple bake
If you want a more contemporary bake using blackberries and apple, do check out my blackberry and apple friands. The recipe can be found here.
Recipe: blackberry and apple crumble – serves 4
- 110g plain flour
- 50g wholemeal plain flour
- 50g ground almonds or crushed walnuts
- 150g unsalted butter, slightly softened
- 100g sugar (caster, granulated, brown, Demerara or a mixture!)
- a generous pinch of fine sea salt
- 3 medium apples (Bramley or any firm, sharp apple), peeled, cored and chopped into largish chunks
- about 300g blackberries
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2-3 tablespoons sugar (any type!)
(1) Put the fruit, cinnamon and sugar into an ovenproof dish and stir together: don’t go for a dish that is too large as you want to have a good depth of fruit.
(2) Mix the flours, salt and nuts (if using) together. Add the butter and rub in gently with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar.
NB: this should take less than a minute: you can go for a finer breadcrumbs look if you wish – it really doesn’t matter here.
(3) Sprinkle the crumble topping over the fruit and sprinkle over the sugar. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and some of the juices from the fruit are bubbling merrily around the edge.
(4) Serve with ice cream or hot custard.