It might not seem a great thing to be writing about successfully making a fruit crumble but for me it is… for some reason, crumble, which should be so easy, eludes me! I remember my mum’s crumbles, I remember school dinners when a fruit crumble was everyone’s favourite, I remember eating with friends who said they weren’t that good at cooking but who produced the yummiest crumbles!
If you don’t know, a crumble topping is butter, sugar, flour rubbed together, no liquids, and just sprinkled over stewed fruit than baked in the oven. The result should be a crisp and a little soggy underneath, and soft and squidgy in the middle – but I guess everyone has their preferred style of crumble. Mine never was my style of crumble, and sometimes it was not anyone’s and the family would scoop the fruit from underneath and leave the soggy stodge. I’ve had so many excellent hints and suggestions, including one to use cornflour – which unfortunately I couldn’t remember as I made the crumble to put on top of the blackberries we’d picked the day before, and the apples from the tree in our garden.
I couldn’t even remember the actual recipe, so looked it up and came across 4½ oz very cold butter, 4½ oz sugar, 7 oz flour. It also suggested pulsing it in a blender rather than rubbing in by hand which makes sense as warm hands would melt the butter. It looked rather a fine crumb to me, but I tipped it over the blackberries and apples… and forty minutes later… good grief! The perfect crumble!! I was astounded!
The cornflour suggesting friend had also mentioned about using very cold butter in another recipe which ended up edible but not as good as it should be, so I think next time I make a crumble, I will replace some of the flour with cornflour, and see if I can out-perfect my yesterday’s success!
The word crumble by the way comes from old English, and didn’t originally have a b in it – the b arrived in the same way it arrived in ‘humble’ because a sound intruded (an unetymological intrusion) The old English word meant small pieces, which is of course what crumble is. What I didn’t realise was that the dish only arrived during the war, possibly from military canteens… which is why I can’t find any mention of it in my 1930’s Be-Ro cookery book!
I did by the way, also pick sloes… let’s go out and buy some gin!