A bit like my attempts at bread, I’ve never been able to get crumble right. It’s often too heavy, too lumpy, too thick, and even when I’ve cooked the topping separately, it still hasn’t been particularly nice. This year, however, I seem to have cracked it! I think there seem to have been three key things that have come together to enable this:
1 – the right quantities of ingredients
2 – not overworking the flour
3 - not putting the topping on until ready to cook
So, with these three things in mind, you can begin to bake.
Choose which fruits you like – I always find pear and berries are a winning combination but usually use whatever’s to hand. This time I used a cooking apple, ripe eating pears, plums and raspberries.
If the fruit is hard, such as the apple and pear, cut into chunks, sprinkle with brown sugar and pour over a little water before steaming in the microwave, or a pan, for a few minutes until starting to soften. Combine all the fruit in an ovenproof dish.
While the fruit is softening, make the crumble topping:
120g plain flour,
60g soft brown sugar
Handful of plain porridge oats
Rub the flour, butter and sugar together until it resembles crumbs, but try to keep a light touch to this using just your finger tips. And DON’T do it for too long! Once combined, add and stir in the handful of oats.
Check the amount of liquid in the fruit – if there’s too much, tip a little out, but ensure you reserve some or the crumble will be dry and cloggy.
Just before cooking, tip the topping over the fruit mixture and even out.
Pop into a high oven, about 180 degrees c, for between 30 and 40 minutes, or until the topping is beginning to brown and the juices are bubbling through.
I know many people prefer custard with crumble, but I love a large pouring of double cream.