A layer of juicy apples and berries are topped with a crisp crumble in this fabulous dessert that can be frozen or made-ahead and is a total crowd pleaser! This is the ultimate last-minute dessert!
Apple crumble (or crisp as it’s also known) is the first recipe I ever made, guided by my grandmother. I wrote it down in my binder and have it to this day.
It was more intuitive than exact, and I’ve always made fruit crumbles that way. I feel the crumble and know if it needs more butter or sugar. And the same with the fruit; sometimes I add an extra layer of sugar and lemon and sometimes I don’t.
But, don’t worry, today I’m giving you a step-by-step recipe for the perfect apple berry crumble. And some variations.
What is a crumble?
Crumble is a wonderful crunchy topping made with butter, sugar, and flour in its basic recipe. There are as many variations (pretty much like shortbread), as there are fruits.
But those three ingredients are exclusive for it to happen and the ratios make it more crunchy or more crumbly. If you add more sugar it will caramelize more, have a more golden color and extra crunchiness. As opposed to using more flour and having a crumblier, paler looking topping.
Other ingredients commonly added to a crumble topping are oats and nuts. Both add an extra crunchiness that is very welcomed.
Steps for making a fruit crumble.
- Pan – this type of dessert is usually served from the pan where it’s baked, so use a nice ceramic or glass one. I use rectangular ceramic pans (images above) because the ratio of fruit/crumble is perfect. Not too much of one but enough of both. You can also use individual ramekins.
- Fruit – can be fresh or sometimes frozen, as with berries. Make sure you cut or chop it so it can be eaten only with a spoon. We don’t want to be cutting fruit after it is served to us.
- Sugar – depending on the fruit I sometimes add a few extra tablespoons of sugar to the fruit, before adding the crumble (image below, left). If they’re too acidic it balances them well. Most people like sweet desserts, so it’s a good idea.
- Lemon – I almost always add the juice of half a lemon to the fruit, also before the crumble. I can’t think of a fruit that won’t benefit from it considering the amount of sugar that surrounds this dessert. And even acidic fruits like the apples and berries we’re using today, are enhanced by it.
- Crumble – it can be made ahead and kept in the fridge for a few days or in the freezer for a few weeks. Always well covered. When ready to use it defrost it in the refrigerator.
- Baking – you can bake it several hours and up to 2 days before you’re going to eat it. Simply reheat it in a 350°F/180°C oven for 15 minutes approx.
- Serving – this is a dessert that screams to be served warm with whipped cream or ice cream.
Variations on a fruit crumble.
Fruit: we are using apples and mixed berries, but I can’t think of a fruit that isn’t good with a crumble on top. Top choices would be apples, berries, stone fruit (peaches, plums, cherries), pineapple, pears.
Crumble: the basic one involves butter, sugar, and flour. This recipe today has oats and almonds, which give it a great crunch, but they can be omitted and extra flour used. Any other nut you like can be used, like hazelnuts in a pear crumble for example.
Serving: you can bake it in one pan as we did today, or use individual ramekins. Warm with some whipped cream or ice cream is everybody’s choice usually, but you can innovate and serve a pear crumble with pistachio ice cream, a peach crumble with ginger ice cream or whipped cream. Match your favorite fruit and spice combinations.
My number one tip:
Always have frozen berries and crumble topping in the freezer.
That way you can put together a fabulous fruit crumble in no time. You don’t even need to cut up fruit. Dessert ready in 40 minutes!
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A layer of juicy apples and berries are topped with a crisp crumble in this fabulous dessert that can be frozen or made-ahead and is a total crowd pleaser!
- 3/4 cup (105g) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (40g) regular oats
- 3/4 cup (80g) sliced or chopped almonds
- 3/4 cup (130g) granulated sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 3/4 cup (180g) unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces (plus some extra to butter the dish)
- 1 1/2 pounds (3/4kg) or about 5 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced or diced small
- 2 cups mixed berries (fresh or frozen)
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
Preheat the oven to 350°F /180°C.
Have ready a 9-13 inch ovenproof ceramic or glass dish. Butter it and reserve.
Make the crumble:
- In a large bowl mix flour, sugar and salt and mix to combine.
- Add cold butter and work it with your hands or dough cutter until you have pieces the size of peas. Some of the mixture will be sand-like with very small butter pieces.
- Mix in the oats and almonds until you have a lumpy mixture trying not to completely break the almonds. At this point, you can cover it and refrigerate for a few days or freeze it.
- You can also mix flour, sugar, salt, and butter in a food processor and then transfer to a bowl and mix the oats and almonds.
- Put a layer of apples in the buttered dish.
- Top with the fresh or frozen berries.
- Sprinkle with the brown sugar and drizzle with the lemon juice.
- Cover the fruit with the crumble. It will be uneven, rustic looking and maybe parts in the sides will not be completely covered. That is fine.
- Bake for about 40 minutes, until the top is golden and fruit is bubbling.
- Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream.
Keywords: apple crumble, fruit crumble