The humble crumble has to be up there as one of the most iconic British puddings. For me it has and always will sit in the trove of top dishes we are known for as a nation. Come winter or summer I find almost anytime is an appropriate one to make it.
Always easy, devoid of fancy preparation and practically foolproof, I have yet to find anyone that doesn’t like it in some form. That unmistakably heady waft of its sweet and buttery biscuit crumb topping baking in the oven is enough to bring even the staunchest savoury tooth pied pipered to the kitchen.
I favour using the glut of what ever fruit is in season to create the molten hot, fruity base. In winter I favour rhubarb and ginger, or apple and beetroot (you can find the recipe for that one here) but in summer I migrate towards softer fruits. Either berries or ripe peaches.
When it comes to berries you can swap in and out any you fancy. Due to the abundance of seeds in raspberries and the occasional tough blackberry, I tend to favour strawberries. Aside from their delicious taste they also have a remarkable smell when cooking, far stronger and more enticing than many other alternatives. You will see what I mean, when you try it.
For the topping its about balancing the crunch of nuts and seeds, the texture of oats and the right butter to flour ratio. Too much and you can end up with a heavy lid of dough, too little and you end up with a charred mood dust effect rather than a light biscuity crumb. Over the years I have tried many different variations and current the one I favour is a mixture of a few staple kitchen ingredients plus a few others sneaked in for added health benefits.
Here I have swapped out regular wheat flour for a white spelt alternative, my chosen sweetener is a non bleached cane sugar (coconut sugar and any maple syrup alternatives are too strong in taste) and the absence of my regular favourite, almonds, is subbed for sweet shards of coconut, which take on a wonderful smokiness after a quick kiss from the oven. Additional ingredients I like to use also include the Naturya milled chia seeds. Not only do they assist in creating a lovely crumb, but they also up the fibre and vitamin level. As someone with a sensitive digestion I eat them regularly in some form and certainly notice the effect they have, keeping everything working efficiently and feeling good.
Finally when serving the final flourish is a dollop of coconut cream, or frozen creme fraiche and a scattering of fresh basil leaves.
Strawberry and Coconut Crumble with Basil
Crumble has a place in my heart for any time of year! A true celebration of the pink berry, this is best made in strawberry season when these ripe fruits are at their sweetest. The basil may seem an unusual addition but the floral flavour works wonderfully paired with the hot crumble and the tangy frozen elderflower creme fraiche.
Fills a 12-8 inch pie dish
1 1/2 tbs elderflower cordial
1 tbs lemon juice
150g brown rice, or gluten free flour
75g coconut oil, or butter
1 teaspoon baking powder
50g flaked coconut
50g flaked almonds
a pinch of ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
70g unrefined cane sugar
a pinch of sea salt
a handful of basil leaves
Pre-heat the oven to 200C.
Combine the flour, baking powder, almonds, coconut and butter (or coconut oil) in a large bowl and rub with your fingertips, until the mixture resembles lumpy wet sand. Add the sugar and stir through, then place the mixture in the fridge until you’re ready to bake.
Meanwhile, put your strawberries in a lightly greased, shallow baking dish, and cover with a tablespoon and a half of the cordial and a squeeze of lemon juice.
Arrange the crumble over the top of the strawberries, loosely patting it, but not compressing it down.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden and bubbling. Set aside to cool slightly before serving, with the elderflower creme fraiche ice cream and basil leaves.
Elderflower Creme Fraiche
600ml creme fraiche
100ml elderflower cordial
zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whisk together the cordial crème fraîche, lemon zest and vanilla.
Set aside for 10 mins for the sugar to melt. Churn in an ice-cream machine, following manufacturer’s instructions, before freezing. Or freeze for 1 hr, then give a good whisk and return to the freezer for another hour. Repeat 3 or 4 times until it becomes solid.