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By Global Gardens Lead Recipe Volunteer Ruth

Crumble is a warming winter pudding, but it’s lovely any time of year, especially during the summer and Autumn when there are so many fruits around. It is a really flexible and economic dish, so here are a few tips to make it just right and avoid a soggy crumble disaster! Do share your suggestions too...

Basic recipe

The basic proportions for a crumble are: 110g fat; 110g sugar and 200g plain flour, all rubbed together.

The great thing about crumble is it is SO easy to tailor it to different diets:

- for fats use dairy or non dairy options

- for sugar use any type, but brown sugars will not make the topping so crisp.

- for flour use white or brown or gluten free options

Make sure your crumble mixture is not too dry , it needs to clump together when you squeeze it. To correct it, add a little more fat - or a couple of teaspoons of water can also help.

Additions and substitutions

You can add a whole arrray of items to your taste, such as ground/chopped/ flaked nuts, seeds like sesame, linseed or sunflower. Oats are also good, if you do this cut down on the amount of flour.

You could experiment with different flavours, for example adding spices (such as cinnamon) or some cocoa powder to the mix.

The Fruit

For the fruit, you can use all sorts – apples, pears, berries, plums, gooseberries, rhubarb, etc.

Don’t chop your fruit too small as more liquid can leach out, which you need to avoid.

If you have washed the fruit, make sure it is perfectly dry before cutting up.

Avoid using stewed fruit, and don’t cook your fruit first as it increases the risk of a soggy crumble.

Frozen fruit works fine, and you generally don’t need to thaw it, as this helps keep the top crisp.

Add sugar according to the tartness of the fruit.


Crumbles are relaxed beings … the temperature is not critical as long as the oven is not too hot (not above 175 degrees). Generally it needs to cook between 30 and 40 minutes, but keep an eye on it. It needs to be a nice sandy colour. If you cook it too long this increases the risk of the fruit liquid rising and spoiling the top.

Deconstructed crumble

Another option to is to cook your crumble topping separately, then add it to stewed fruit. This way you have a very crunchy top, which keeps for quite a long time in a covered container, and you can use when you wish. The following mixture works well:

Rub together 160g flour, 40g oats, 110g fat, 130g sugar and a couple of tablespoons of chopped/ flaked nuts of your choice. Spread on a baking sheet and bake until golden and crunchy. Stir around on the tray often whilst cooking, so that it browns evenly.

Sprinkle on desired cooked or raw fruit. This works very well cold, layered with the fruit and also yoghurt, custard or mascarpone in individual glass dishes.


To increase your success in achieving a crispy top, in addition to the points raised above:

- chill your crumble mixture before putting on the fruit or even put in the freezer for half an hour

- put your topping on just before you bake it, don’t leave it sitting around.

- pat the topping down firmly all over, including the edges, making sure no fruit is exposed

- don’t make your crumble layer too thick, as you’ll need to cook it longer and then the fruit is at more risk of exuding liquid everywhere.


A crumble is always best baked fresh. The topping mixture will keep several days in the fridge, so try and bake what you need as required

As the baking temperature is flexible it can easily be cooked at the same time as something else, to save energy.


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