The Deconstructed Crumble


Blackberry and Apple Crumble


Is the Soggy crumble thing of the past?  The modern trend for deconstructing traditional dishes insists on separately cooking the fruit and topping before pairing. The result, a crumble par excellence; succulent fruit sweetened to perfection, bathing in its own syrup and topped with golden, buttery crumble.

 Before exclaiming, ‘but tradition’! The fact is that crumble is a relative newcomer, probably a creative way around rationing during WW2. Make half the quantity of pastry for sprinkling on, rather than encasing, fruit. Or, simply a different use for the delicious streusel toppings of Austrian and Eastern European baking ‘traditions’. 

 Whatever the arguments I think that deconstruction has advantages. The cook is in control. You can adjust the consistency and sweetness of the cooked fruit before scattering the topping, making it ideal for summer berry crumbles. The staged preparation eliminates concern that you crumble will be anything less than perfect. 

 Apple and Autumn Soft Fruit Crumble

Serves 4-6


175g plain flour

60g Granulated of Demerara sugar

100g butter at room temperature

A pinch of flaked sea salt

Fruit compote

300-400g cooking apples

4 tablespoons water

60-75g sugar of your choice

¼ teaspoon ground spice such as cinnamon, allspice or cardamom

200g soft autumn fruit such as blackberries, loganberries, apricots, plums – or simply an additional 200g cooking apple


Crumble on a baking tray

Spread the crumble evenly onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper

 Make the crumble.

Preheat the oven to gas 4/170c

Put the flour into a large mixing bowl along with the sugar. Cut the butter into small cubes, add to the flour, covering each piece of butter well with flour.   Rub the butter into the flour using your thumb tip against your forefinger and index finger tips, until the mix resembles sand.

Scatter the crumble evenly over the baking parchment on the baking tin and bake for ten to fifteen minutes until it is lightly golden. Remove from the oven and allow the crumble to cool (the sugar gets very hot) before breaking up any lumps. The crumble should be a fine breadcrumb consistency.  If using at a later point then cool the crumble completely and store in an airtight tin. It will keep for a few days.

Prepare and cook the fruit.

Blackerry and apple

Prepare the fruit for the compote

Peel and core the cooking apples and cut the fruit into even sized chunks. Put into a heavy based pan along with the water, the sugar and the spice of choice.

Half the stone fruits if using. Discard the stones and cut the fruits into even sized chunks. Berry fruits are used just as they are.

Put a lid on the pan containing the apple and cook it over a moderate heat for about ten minutes, or until the apple is just beginning to tenderise but still retains its shape. Add the prepared soft autumn fruits and cook until they too are just soft and their juices are running.

 Preparing the crumble for immediate use:

Heat the oven to 180c/gas 5

If you the consistency of the fruit compote is a bit wet then cook it for a further 5 minutes without a lid to allow excess liquid to evaporate.

Tip the compote into an oven proof dish and scatter over the prepared crumble.   Put the dish into the oven for a final 10 minutes cook.  When the fruit is bubbling and the crumble is a darker golden brown remove it from the oven. Let it sit for ten to fifteen minutes before serving.

Preparing the components in advance:

If you are preparing in advance the apple starch will thicken the compote as it cools.

So just remove the cooked fruit from the heat and allow it to cool.  To complete, reheat the fruit and follow the instruction above.

Alternatively you can put the cool fruit compote into an ovenproof dish and reheat it in the oven for fifteen minutes or until it is hot through before scattering over the precooked crumble and finishing as above for ten minutes.


Remove the crumble from the oven when the fruit is bubbling and the crumble is golden brown. let it sit for ten to fifteen minutes before serving.

Serve with cream, ice cream or custard – or a combination!

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