As the prospect of a warming crumble for dessert beckons, we often focus our attentions on what to put in the filling, while the topping remains an afterthought. So why not mix it up a bit and furnish your comforting creation with something extra special? Simply adding a few new ingredients to your usual mixture can create an array of exciting flavours and textures.
Whether you have a garden glut of summer fruit or a favourite filling that you return to again and again, we’ve got all manner of tasty toppings to take your crumble to the next level of pudding perfection…
1. Classic crumble
Sometimes, simplicity is best and a basic crumble topping of sugar, flour and butter is all you need for the perfect pud. In Raymond Blanc’s popular apple & blackberry crumble, the topping is pre-baked so it retains a light, crumbly texture and doesn’t stick together.
You can also experiment with different sugars and flours to alter the taste and consistency. For example, using demerara sugar instead of caster sugar in this gooseberry crumble topping will give it a more caramelised quality. Muscovado and soft brown sugar would achieve a similar effect. Our autumnal orchard crumble also uses half wholemeal flour and half white to create a more wholesome, full-bodied flavour.
2. Go nuts
Nuts are a popular addition to crumbles, and there’s such a variety of these tasty little morsels to choose from, including almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts and pistachios. Our pear & blackberry crumbles incorporate little green jewels of roughly chopped pistachio into the topping for extra crunch. Roasting the nuts before chopping will intensify their beautiful flavour, as recommended in these rhubarb, pear & hazelnut crumbles. Heavier fruit fillings such as the one in our maple plum crumble work well with a light and crunchy coating of almond flakes.
3. An oat-standing finish
Give your crumble topping more bite by adding wholesome porridge oats or rolled oats, like in our oaty apple crumble. You can also add a little syrup to the mixture to create a flapjack-style texture with gorgeous little chewy clusters, as shown in this apple flapjack crumble. Experiment with other cereals such as Grape-Nuts or another malted wheat grain for added crunch.
4. Coconut coating
Give your crumble a tropical twist with a sprinkle of desiccated coconuts. The topping for our irresistible blueberry lemon cake combines coconut shavings with melted butter, sugar and eggs. Your tastebuds will be transported to sunnier climes in no time.
5. Chocolate cravings
If your crumble is in need of some indulgence, then a liberal scattering of chocolate should do the trick. This pear & chocolate pudding combines dark chocolate chunks, breadcrumbs and sugar with maple syrup for an irresistibly sweet, crunchy finish. For something extra special, try the white chocolate crumble from our summery sugar-cured strawberries recipe. This scrumptious sprinkling is magically concocted by combining melted white chocolate with butter, milk powder, cornflour and sugar to create a light crumb.
6. Peanut crunch
Treat your crumble to an American-style flavour fling by adding a dollop of crunchy peanut butter spread to the topping. This rich, nutty flavouring balances perfectly with a zingy blueberry and raspberry filling in our fruity peanut butter berry crisp. And we don’t blame you for finishing off the jar in the process…
7. Spice things up
Add a sprinkling of fragrant spices to give your crumble a flavour boost, as with the cinnamon and clove-infused crumb on our raspberry Linzer slices. Spices can also be sprinkled over the topping after baking. For example, our next level apple crumble recipe suggests choosing from a selection of warming cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and allspice. You can also try incorporating layers of spiced crumble into a dessert for textural contrast – make these apple, cream & spiced crumble pots for an indulgent dinner party dessert by interspersing layers of stewed apple and whipped cream with crunchy cinnamon and cardamom-flavoured rye breadcrumbs.
8. Taking the biscuit
Embellish your pudding with some satisfyingly crunchy biscuit chunks. We’ve used amaretti pieces in these super fruity berry crumble pots which make an easy yet impressive dessert. If you prefer the way a cookie crumbles, then make this simple yet scrumptious cookie-dough crumble or make our decadent vegan cookies & cream brownies topped with chocolatey Oreo chunks.
9. Crumble + scones = scrumble
We love a foodie mashup, so combining two of the nation’s best sweet treats into a topping seemed like a no-brainer. Half scone, half crumble, the cobbler-style sponge on our pear & blackberry ‘scrumble’ marries the crunch of a biscuit with the cakey texture of a scone.
10. A savoury twist
Who says a savoury crumble isn’t just as satisfying as a sweet? The same goes for toppings – this comforting butter bean & squash stew is finished with a fragrant herby crumble combining chopped rosemary, parsley, walnuts and breadcrumbs. Sprinkling cheese into a topping also guarantees a gorgeously melty result. Opt for a grating of flavoursome parmesan, as used on our wintry vegetable crumbles, or try something different, such as the tangy Caerphilly cheese crumbled over this moreish leek & Caerphilly crumble tart.
Get ready to crumble some more…
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What’s your dream crumble topping? Leave a comment below…