ANN/THE STAR – A crumble is a fruit-based dessert topped with a crumbly streusel flavoured with cinnamon or other spices.
This dessert is said to have originated from Britain during World War II when flour (to be used for pie crusts) was being rationed.
Streusel refers to the crumble topping of flour, sugar and butter. Oats or nuts may also be added before the streusel is baked until crispy.
Derived from the German verb “to scatter”, streusel is commonly used in central Europe not just over fruit but also as a topping for cakes, muffins and sweet breads.
The recipe that I learned from my sister, who lives in New Zealand, varies a bit from the traditional crumble because she adds baking powder to the streusel.
This causes the streusel to rise while baking and allows the heat to penetrate into the risen layers, creating a crispier and lighter, crumble topping.
Almost any fruit may be used for this dessert but the usual fillings are apples, peaches, bananas and berries. I have also successfully made crumbles with tropical fruits such as dragon fruit, mango and passion fruit.
You may even use different combinations such as bananas and blueberries or apple and cherries for a more colourful dessert that can augment special occasions.
I like more crust than fruit, so I use just enough fruit to cover the bottom of the pan and top with plenty of streusel.
If you prefer more fruit, pay attention to the ratio of fruit to the topping, to avoid having too much liquid seeping out and spoiling the crust.
It is customary to sprinkle cinnamon and nutmeg over the streusel before baking and I love how it perfumes the kitchen during the baking process.
However, you may omit the spices if your family or guests are not keen on these flavours.
Traditionally, crumble is served with custard but it has become more common to serve it with ice cream or whipped cream.
I like to assemble the crumble ahead of time and pop it into the oven at the start of dinner so it’s ready in time for dessert.
Then I can enjoy the contrast of the warm filling and crumbly topping against the cold, luscious ice cream to finish off a great dinner.
– 500g soft fruit, cubed
– Two tablespoons of brown sugar
– Half cup all-purpose flour
– Quarter cup brown sugar
– One tablespoon baking powder
– 75g unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
– Half cup rolled oats
– Quarter tablespoon nutmeg powder
– Quarter tablespoon cinnamon powder
Cut fruit into two centimetres cubes and place in a glass baking pan. Sprinkle brown sugar over the fruit and toss to combine.
Sift flour, sugar and baking powder together into a mixing bowl, then cut in chilled butter with a pastry blender or a dinner knife. Add oatmeal and rub into butter mixture until it forms crumbs.
Spread the streusel lightly over the fruit in the baking pan and sprinkle nutmeg and cinnamon over the crumbs.
Bake in a preheated oven at 190 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes until the fruit juices bubble and the streusel becomes crispy.
Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes for the juices to coagulate a bit before serving it warm with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.