Believe it or not, but I didn’t know crumble existed until I moved to Britain. I grew up with an abundance of summer fruit from my parents’ and grandparents’ gardens, and yet, nobody has ever thought of making them into a crumble. A light, yet satisfying summer dessert.
Don’t get me wrong, my mum has always been a genius when it comes to coming up with ideas of how to use up the seemingly limitless fruits provided by the trees and bushes in the garden. Most of it would end up in preserves (obviously); summer afternoons were for fruit picking and preserving, and they indeed are my earliest memories of summer.
It was our ritual, for which we were preparing throughout the year. Every glass bottle or jar we happened to come into possession of (be it a jar of shop-bought mayo, jam or little glass bottles of fruit smoothies, very popular among kids), was designated for reuse: thoroughly washed, dried and stored away, ready to be filled with summer fruit and veg preserves. My mum sometimes didn’t bother to take the labels of them, which resulted in a rather curious collection in our cellar. With all the shop labels on the jars intact, but the jar content changed, it all looked somehow amusing. In a way, our cellar was a reflection of our shopping preferences, at least when it comes to all things jarred.
Another thing I remember was my mum’s ancient juice maker (really, I don’t think you can buy them anymore. I’ll try to snap a photo and update the post when I am in Poland next). The thing was huge, suspicious-looking and oh, so steamy. Making gooseberry, cherry or strawberry syrup always transformed our small kitchen into a fruity sauna (and not necessarily in a good way). Temperature and humidity were unbearable. Yet, we soldiered thorough. My mum, my sister and me, diligently juicing, jarring and preserving. We knew we would thank ourselves later, when the cold winter days come, and we’ll be cosily seated at the kitchen table, a mug of hot tea with homemade raspberry preserve in hand.
But back to crumble.
Crumble is a fruit dessert of British origin, consisting of fruit (often with sugar) covered with a light crumble and baked. Ingenious invention. I personally don’t know anyone who doesn’t like a healthy serving of crumble. Especially when it’s served (as it’s often the case in Britain) with warm custard (autumn version, amazing with apple crumble), ice cream or cream (summer delight, crumbles with rhubarb, blackberries, peaches and gooseberries are the stars here).
Crumble is also a great way of using up all the overripe fruit. Chuck it into a crumble instead of throwing it away! That’s precisely what I do, every time I have some fruit at home, I am craving something sweet but have little time (or energy) to make a dessert.
40g golden caster sugar
50g demerera sugar
80g unsalted butter
pinch of salt
pinch of cinnamon
HOW TO MAKE?
1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease the crumble dish with butter, set aside. Toss the gooseberries with the caster sugar and add to the greased dish.
2. Make the crumble. Add flour, butter, half of the oats, pinch of salt and pinch of cinnamon into a bowl. Rub together with your fingers until you have a sand-like texture. Add the demerera sugar.
3. Add the ready crumble topping to the dish with gooseberries, scattering evenly on top of the fruit. Sprinkle with remaining oats.
4. Bake in the preheated oven for about 45-50minutes, until the top is golden and the fruit underneath bubbling.
5. Serve warm with custard, ice cream or cream. Or eat it solo. Enjoy!