Crumble has long been one of my favourite puddings. It usually followed Sunday lunch at least once a month in our house growing up, made by either Mum or Dad, and mostly served with custard, occasionally fromage frais or creme fraiche, and sometimes ice cream if we had guests. I love the concept of it being a rough and ready last minute pud made with odds and ends of fruit from the fruit bowl or garden and store cupboard staples. Chucked together without a totally exact science it tastes different every time and I have enjoyed all the variations that I’ve tried over the years, be it apple, pear, rhubarb or plum or a combination thereof, with possible additions of blackberries, raspberries or strawberries. Not to mention the endless possible ingredients in the topping, from almonds to oats.
Spiced Rhubarb and Pear Crumble
For the filling: 4 pears, approx. 6-7 small sticks of rhubarb or 3 large, 1/2 teaspoon of mixed spice, 2 heaped teaspoons brown sugar.
For the topping: approx. 4oz plain flour, 2oz oats, 3oz butter, approx. 3oz brown sugar
1. Peel and chop the pears, discarding the core and stalk. Wash and chop the rhubarb, discarding the ends. Place in a buttered oven dish. Sprinkle with the mixed spice and sugar and give it a stir.
2. To make the topping, rub the butter into the flour, then stir in the oats and sugar. Or place all the ingredients in a mixer bowl and mix on a low speed with a beater attachment for a few minutes until the mixture resembles rough breadcrumbs.
3. Pile the topping on top of the fruit, level the top and bake for approx. 20 minutes at 190C or until the topping browns round the edges.
The rough guideline amounts for crumble topping are 6-3-3, which is 6oz of flour, 3oz of sugar and 3oz of butter. You could make this 4-2-2 for a small one, 8-4-4 for a larger one or 10-5-5 for a huge one. You get the idea. Sometimes I just use caster sugar, sometimes a mixture of white and brown. Today I used all brown because I wanted a dark, caramelised flavour to go with the mixed spice. Similarly, with the flour I like to add some oats, so I make that 6oz up out of the two.
I usually aim for a proportion of two thirds fruit to one third crumble topping in the dish. Some combinations you might like to try:
- Apple, strawberry and almond: with caster sugar and almonds in the topping for a lighter summery pudding.
- Apple, blackberry and cinnamon: with half white, half brown sugar in the topping and cinnamon sprinkled on the fruit.
- Pear and plum: with brown sugar in the topping and mixed spice for an autumnal flavour.
- Peach/nectarine, mango, ginger and coconut: with ginger sprinkled on the fruit, coconut in the topping and served with coconut yoghurt this would be a lovely tropical twist on this classic English pudding.
Try experimenting with your own flavour combinations and let me know how you get on. Enjoy!