Sorry, I have to moan about the weather. I must. It’s rainy and it’s awful, it’s driving me nuts! And what’s a girl to do on a miserable day like this? Why bake, of course! Here is a short introduction on a typical British pudding – crumble!
I adore warm hearty British puddings, and Rhubarb Crumble served with custard tops my list! I was first introduced to warm British puddings when I came to study at a secondary school in Britain for a year. The combination of warmth and sweetness immediately struck a note with me, and has been a favourite of mine ever since. Now I can make apple pie, and a lovely rhubarb crumble, and I’m not stopping at that!
Crumble is a typically British pudding, containing stewed fruit, topped with a crumbly mixture of butter, flour and sugar, and served with custard, cream, cream fraiche or ice-cream. Fruits commonly used in crumbles include apple, blackberry, pear, peach, plum and my favourite, rhubarb! The topping can include rolled oats, ground ginger, ground almonds and other nuts chopped or ground. The nuts and oats make it crunchier and more flavoursome. I suggest you experiment with combinations of fruit and nuts, but if you’d like a few tips on how to combine them, clik here.
According to Wikipedia, crumbles originated in Britain during World War II, due to strict rationing of food in the country. Making bases of pies required using too much flour, fat and sugar, so crumbles were devised as an alternative, using a small amount of flour, fat (butter/margarine) and sugar to make a simple topping, that becomes crumbly and crunchy when baked – and hence the name crumble. The crumbles became popular because of their simplicity, too.
I have photos of the topping, and photos of the stewed rhubarb, but not of the complete pudding! I’m afraid we were too quick to eat it!
SOURCE: Adapted from Feast by Nigella Lawson
PREPARATION TIME: 10 min (rhubarb) + 15 – 20 min (crumble)
COOKING TIME: 35 – 45 min
For the Filling:
2 lb/ 1 kg rhubarb
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
50 g caster sugar
For the Crumble:
100 g all purpose flour
50 g butter
3 tbs caster sugar
3 tbsp Demerara sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
50 g rolled oats (or a bit more, if you like it crunchier)
1. Cut the rhubarb into equal-sized pieces, so it cooks evenly. Place in a saucepan with 1 tbsp butter, 1 tsp vanilla extract and sugar. Cover and cook the rhubarb until slightly soft, stirring occasionally. This should take about 5 – 10 min.
2. Meanwhile, to make the topping, place the flour and butter into a mixing bowl, and rub with your fingertips until resembles bread crumbs. Then, mix in the rest of the ingredients. At this point, the crumble topping can be left to stand until you want to cook it.
3. When you want to cook the pudding, put the rhubarb an oven-proof dish, and pour the crumble mixture on top. Make sure you press the edges a little bit, otherwise the juices will ooze out! Bake for 35 – 45 min at 190 C (Gas mark 5), or until the topping is browned and crunchy. Serve with custard, ice-cream, cream or cream fraiche! Enjoy!
Nigella normally puts 1 tbsp cornflour in the rhubarb mixture, to get more gravy-like juices. I did this a few time, and then gradually started reducing the amount of cornflour. Nowadays, ideally I use either 1 tsp of cornflour, or none at all.
Also, I tend to use caster sugar only in the crumble topping, but if you prefer a caramelised taste, use Demerara! Also, she uses a different ratio of butter and flour in the topping: 150 g flour to 110 g butter. I’ve tried that, too, but I prefer it more biscuity, and crunchier. The measures given above are from a friend.
Moderately easy to make and absolutely delicious, this is one of my favourite puddings! The filling and the topping can be made in advance and assembled just before you want to cook it. Lovely!
Rhubarb recipes elsewhere in the blogosphere: