The crumble wars



I've been going through a bit of British Cookery stage lately.  Perhaps fuelled by the fact we're moving closer to the dream of installing a Rayburn wood stove (built by Aga!) becoming a reality.  There's something about these autumn days that has me reaching for the books of English favourites like Nigel, Monty and Sarah, Jamie, Nigella and Patrick, Dominic and Cass for some nostalgic comfort food.

With Victorian sponges, toad in the hole and kippers on my mind, coupled with the fact of the abundance of apples and blackberries in our garden, we've been eating plenty of crumbles lately.   Served with a dollop of our favourite yoghurt, why it's positively a health food that can be eaten most nights with a clear conscience.

However, I admit to not having found a really good crumble topping yet, so we've been having a crumble bake off, each night trying a different crumble recipe.  Pitting Monty against Nigel, Jamie against Nigella. 

So far, the results are inconclusive, Jamie wins points for containing nutritious oats, Nigel is certainly a front runner at this stage, whose crumble has an almost shortbread texture, due to his refusal to be parsimonious with the butter. Both Nigella and Monty's versions are perfectly acceptable crumble toppings, but none really hit the mark.

Funny enough, it's my neighbour who makes the best crumble I've ever had, it's super crunchy because she cooks the topping on a baking tray in the oven first.  Seems I didn't have to go far after all to find the perfect recipe.  Still, proper British cookery is something I should perfect before the arrival of our hydronic stove.  I wouldn't want her to get homesick. Luckily I have p.l.e.n.t.y. of time to practice!

9 comments:

  1. Isn't wonderful to find that perfect crumble topping?! I did a crumble topping search and experient last winter and stumbled on a winner - what joy! It was like reaching the summit and now I can't go past it. You most likely feel the same but I will share with you my reason for loving my crumble - it is made with almond meal (I think it was inspired by Nigella . . .?) and not an oat in sight (too much like breakfast if you ask me). Congratulations to the victor. xxx

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  2. there's so many things I love about this post.

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  3. Hi there. Found you via Ecomilf. Lovely blog, I was actually drawn to your blog when I read that your occupation is 'kid wrangler'. Love it. Jade.

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  4. I use Nigella's crumble recipe - very simple in that it's basically a butter, flour and sugar mix. But to get it crispy she recommends popping the crumble mix in the freezer for a little while. I often make double and just store it in the freezer. So it's ready to go for those sweets craving moments.
    For the fruit it's usually rhubarb from the garden, stewed a few minutes with sugar and sometimes vanilla or cinnamon

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  5. maybe you should take a look at Mrs Beeton - doesn't get more English than that! xx

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  6. mmm, hey I think I spied an online front cover Mabel, was she posing on a chair? Nigella surprised me last night, she kept pointing at blackberries with her nose so that we would pick them for her!

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  7. The humble crumble is a firm favourite for me. I never get tired of eating it, and there are so many variations for the top. I like an almost cakey type one, more cobbler than crumble... but than I like sugar and butter rather a lot, so that's not surprising.

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  8. Have you tried David Herbert? His complete prefect recipes is a winner of a book, very much in the english tradition, and although I haven't tried the crumble recipe, everything else I have tried in it has been great.
    Love the blog!

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  9. Love crumble - Apricot is my favourite. No good at the topping though... and big congrats on a gorgeous article in Country Style - it's really beautiful.

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