How to make a crumble
Crumbles are as much a part of autumn as rainy days, conkers and freshly fallen leaves. Eager to find a crumble as good as our nan's, we went in search of the ultimate recipe
The not-so-humble crumble can be comforting and wholesome, fruity and sweet, oaty and crunchy. Get it right and ticks all the boxes for everything you'd want in a pudding.
Star anise, crushed amaretti biscuits and even a dash of brandy have been known to make it into the mix, and everyone has a secret trick for making the best topping. Here are our tips on how to make the ultimate crumble.
Read our top tips for perfecting crumble below, then also discover more comforting crumble recipes, get ideas for the best crumble toppings and watch our video for how to make the perfect crumble.
How to make a classic crumble
Raymond Blanc pre-cooks his topping in this apple and blackberry crumble to avoid a gluey, uncooked end result and retain the texture of the fruit. This technique creates a really biscuity topping, and as it's already crunchy and cooked before being spooned over the fruit, you don't risk any sogginess.
Quick and easy crumble
Running low on pudding prep time? Crumble doesn't have to be complicated. Wow your guests with this super-speedy crumble mix using a rough mixture of fruit, sugar, butter and flour. It takes just 20 mins to whip up, and can be left in the oven while you enjoy your main course. No time to chop? Opt for our frozen fruit crumble, which makes the most of shop-bought pre-chopped frozen summer berries or other fruit.
What is crumble topping made of?
Typically, a basic crumble topping is made up of just three ingredients: flour, cold butter and sugar. However, we also love adding porridge oats for extra chewiness, as in these recipes for very-berry oat crumble and American-style apple crisp. Chopped and toasted nuts such as pecans, almonds or hazelnuts also make a lovely addition to a traditional crumble, for taste as well as an extra-crunchy texture. Sprinkle flaked almonds or other nuts of your choice over this gooey toffee apple crumble for an irresistible caramelised topping. If you simple can't decide on the best topping, our next level apple crumble gives a variety of options to choose from, as well as an additional spice mix to sprinkle over.
How to make an apple crumble
Our most popular crumble by far is this foolproof apple crumble. The filling is a simple combination of Bramley apples with golden caster sugar and the topping is classic flour, butter and water crumb. Sprinkle over rolled oats and demerara sugar for some extra texture, too if you wish.
If you want to make the filling slightly less tangy, we recommend sweetening the apples with apricot jam and orange juice to make it twice as fruity, as in this apple flapjack crumble recipe. You could also add a little syrup to the oaty crumble to make moreish, chewy clusters. For a dairy-free version, use a plant-based spread to make the topping, as in our vegan apple crumble.
What are the best crumble filling combinations?
Choosing the perfect crumble to go with your fruit is an art form in itself. Sweet, caramelised apples will be better showcased with a more savoury topping, whereas tart rhubarb and sharp gooseberries are complemented with a sweet-yet-simple topping, like in this gooseberry crumble recipe. Teaming warming spices with fruity mixtures also gives them an extra flavour dimension. A sprinkle of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg or even star all work well with autumnal berries like in our spiced plum & blackberry crumble. You could also incorporate a touch of spice in the topping -–try our rhubarb & apple crumble with a hint of ginger in the crumble flour mixture.
Make the most of seasonal fruits
Whilst crumbles are typically enjoyed in the colder months, we see no reason not to enjoy this winning pud all year round! Whip up a juicy cherry crumble or tart gooseberry crumble for a superb summertime dessert. When autumn swings around, it's time to celebrate hedgerow harvests with recipes such as our damson crumble, apple & blackberry crumble and pear crumble. Frozen fruit crumbles come into their own throughout winter, whilst a tangy rhubarb crumble is the perfect way to welcome in the spring.
For more seasonal ideas, read our guide on crumble recipes for every season.
Adding booze to crumble
Take your crumble to the next level with a boozy kick. Our caramelised pear, rum & coconut crumble makes for an impressive grown-up dessert, where spiced rum perfectly offsets the sweetness of the pears. Or for something sweeter, add a splash of port to this tangy rhubarb crumble to give the fruit filling an extra kick. Chilly nights have never been so comforting!
Alternative crumble flavours
We love a classic crumble, but sometimes it's worth experimenting with some less obvious ingredients. Pears and chocolate already make a winning dessert duo, so why not use this combination in a crumble? This fabulous pear & chocolate couldn't be easier – simply combine tinned pears with chopped chocolate, oats, butter and golden syrup, then bake until beautifully crisp. We also love the unusual yet winning combination of a salty peanut butter topping with the tart blueberry and raspberry filling in this peanut butter berry crisp.
What to serve with crumble?
It really comes down to personal preference but we think crumbles are best enjoyed with a dollop of cold vanilla ice cream, whipped double cream, clotted cream or warming custard.
Tips for making the perfect crumble
Our Facebook and Twitter followers got in touch to tell us their thoughts:
Mark Bowerman says: "Rub the butter in fairly quickly, and not too perfectly – a fine, dusty texture at this stage spoils the fun. Use a shallowish dish if you've got a wet fruit mixture, otherwise the crumble will start to dissolve before it's baked. Custard. Yum."
Amanda Forster-Searle says: "I'm dairy and wheat intolerant and make scrummy crumbles with gluten-free flour, ground almonds, soft brown sugar and goat's butter – have had lots of happy tums! Also, I use eating apples so [I can] use less sugar that way."
Sandra Wilson says: "Dollops of marmalade on rhubarb, and a couple handfuls of porridge oats in the crumble mix."
Gemma Smelt says: "No scrimping! None of that 'lots of fruit and a pathetic amount of crumble on top' – it's all about the crumble, the clue's in the name!"
Miriam Waller says: "My son. Not as a filling, mind. He manages to make the perfect crumble mixture every time."
Get creative with more crumble ideas...
Crumble recipe collection
Apple crumble recipe collection
Our best crumble toppings
Crumble recipes for every season
We'd love to hear your tips for making the perfect crumble, and what you prefer to serve with it. Leave a comment below...
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