Apple Crumble Grumble

Apple Crumble Grumble

Why can’t I find a perfectly formed and cooked crumble.

I went to Norwich catering college and we learnt from the good ole Practical Cookery book, which was as beige as a village hall buffet. But it had the best and most perfect recipes for all the basics including crumble – Half fat to flour and half sugar to fat.

That’s it folks.

Crumble Grumble No 1 – the deconstructed crumble. There is nothing more to say, but imagine just having eaten a good ole British roast beef dinner with fluffy high yorkies, crispy tatties, a selection of yummy veggies with of course cauliflower cheese, rare rib of beef and lashings of gravy. You sit back on your chair – pat your stomach and say oh’ now all I need is a proper crumble. Then you get a belly button fluff of puree, a poop of jelly and some crumbled amaretti biscuits all splatted onto an enormous plate – Nooooo, it’s simply not proper crumble. That’s got its time and place and that’s not on Grandmas table, or served as part of a Sunday roast – serve your deconstructed crumbles on Saturday night and be done with it. 

Crumble Grumble No two – A crumble is not a crumble if it’s been scattered with biscuits. It’s happened again you say as a disappointingly small ramekin of dessert is placed in front of you and what’s that on top, no it’s not a crumble its squashed biscuit crumbs. Put it in the bin I say! And anyway, crumbles were never served in ramekins or ashtrays when I was at catering college. I’m a growing girl not a super model. 

Crumble Grumble No three – you follow an odd recipe and don’t have enough so spread a dusting over the wet soggy fruit, under cook it and cover it in cling film until its needed – what is left is fruit puree with a flour slurry on top. Why even call it crumble if it isn’t crumbly. And why make a crumble if there isn’t enough – double it up and give me a proper thick layer of the good stuff – cook it until it’s at least cooked but always crumbly and don’t suffocate it – crumbles don’t like plastic.

And now that I have come to the end of my apple crumble grumble I will emphasise the disappointment I will have (Like a child being promised a day in an adventure park only to be taken for a walk along a river, to look at boats – true story) if I do not get proper crumble. Next time I think I will cry, I honestly can’t even remember the last time I has a proper 80’s crumble out, I have to make them at home and then feel the guilt of making an 8-portion dish. 

I’m ok with variations, I sometimes replace 25-30% off flour to oats, occasionally add vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg or swap the caster sugar out with brown sugar. I’m not a fan of using SR flour, but it works making it lighter and a tad softer. Never use Marg unless you’re a vegan, because butter makes it taste delicious and is worth the extra money in taste points.

Serves 3 – 4 

450-500g / ½ kilo of fruits (1lb) – cooked to soften with sugar to sweeten.

100g plain flour

50g butter – soft and diced

25g any sugar

  • Always mix the butter in the flour first with your hands (fingers), incorporating the butter in to the flour until it resembles textured breadcrumbs. 
  • Then simply mix in the sugar and any seasonings like cinnamon.  

Because the crumble is the best part I would 50% extra this as in 150g flour, 75g butter, 50g sugar for a 4 portioned dish with half a kilo of fruit.

But feel free to quadruple and freeze in bags so it can simply be sprinkled out on top of fruit as an easy cheat. 

Why apples – all fruits can be used in crumbles, like Pineapples – I like my pineapple crumble with toffee sauce in the base. Bananas go a little squishy so use good bananas and don’t pre-cook – what about bananas and custard topped with crumble. Or even savoury crumbles – like figs, feta and honey with bacon and walnuts. 

Whatever crumble you make – make it crumbly and invite me. 

If I get to choose simply serve with pouring cream, but I’m also happy with custard or ice-cream.

Zena Leech-Calton from

Love Norwich Food