A special family recipe for fruit crumble

JP McMahon: The great thing about this recipe is that you can use any fruit

 Once you get the hang of this recipe, you can make it by eye. Photograph: iStock

Once you get the hang of this recipe, you can make it by eye. Photograph: iStock

 

Fruit crumbles occupy a special place in my heart for a number of reasons, the primary one being the ways in which they take me back to my teenage years. Sugar has a tendency to occupy our food memories more than most other foods. It seems to stick in our minds, or break up past moments, like Proust’s madeleines.

All fruit crumbles take me back to my great aunty Kay. The smell of the bubbling fruits, leaking slowly out of the crisp topping, still brings a mellow sigh. The great thing about her recipe is that you can use any fruit. I prefer to use soft fruits such as blackberries, raspberries and strawberries, but you can also use figs, plums and rhubarb.

She mostly used frozen fruit, that is, fruit that she had frozen herself. I don’t know why we don’t think of this anymore. Surely, it’s better than buying strawberries from half way around the world?

This crumble doesn’t have any spices added, but feel free to play around with any, such as cinnamon, vanilla, ginger, or even star anise. If using the latter spice, simmer the sugar and fruit in a little water to absorb the flavour of the anise, then discard the spice.

My great aunt Kay’s fruit crumble

Once you get the hang of this recipe, you can make it by eye. You’ll need 500g of prepared fruit. Blackberries and raspberries need nothing done to them; quarter plums and strawberries; slice rhubarb, pears and apples. To the fruit, add 100g of sugar and let it macerate while you make the crumble. For the crumble, rub 75g of butter into 150g of flour with a pinch of salt. Use this to top the fruit. Bake the whole lot for 30 minutes until golden brown and bubbling. 

This crumble feeds two to four people depending on how hungry you are or how much you love it. Serve with freshly whipped cream or some vanilla ice-cream. Best eaten on the day, but will keep for two days in the fridge. 

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