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 nans', 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.
Get ready to crumble...
Raymond Blanc pre-cooks his crumble topping in this apple & blackberry version to avoid a gluey, uncooked crumble 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.
Sweet and juicy
In this apple flapjack crumble recipe, Mary Cadogan recommends sweetening the apples with apricot jam and orange juice to make it twice as fruity. If you prefer, you can cut down on the sugar (the fruity flavour more than makes up for it), or 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.
Quick and easy
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.
Match made in heaven
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.
Sugar and spice and all things nice
The most popular tip in our office was adding a sprinkle of cinnamon, ginger or even star anise to fruity mixtures like our spiced plum & blackberry crumble, plus a light dusting of demerara on top for a delicious crunch.
Chopped and toasted pecans, almonds or hazelnuts 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 irresistable caramelised topping.
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!
Pears and chocolate already make a winning dessert duo, so why not use this combination in a crumble? This fabulous flapjack-style dessert couldn't be easier – simply combine tinned pears with chopped chocolate, oats, butter and golden syrup, then bake until beautifully crisp. Spoons at the ready!
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.'
Try out your new crumble skills with our perfect crumble video:
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We'd love to hear your tips for making the perfect crumble, and what you prefer to serve with it. Leave a comment below...