I would happily eat crumble for my last meal. I really would .. well, that or apple pie and preferably both now I come to think of it! Oh and I’d want at least another couple of courses too, obviously! I have fond memories of eating a lot of fruit crumbles when I was growing up. My Mum used to make them using whatever fruit was in season at the time, served with a good lashing of custard poured on the side. Made from a tin of Bird’s I might add and oh, it was goooood!
Crumbles are the British equivalent of the American Crisp. Although they’ve been around longer, they only came into their own during World War II. Rationing meant there were fewer pastry ingredients to be had so this frugal topping was used instead. Originally it was an autumnal dish made with windfall apples by thrifty housewives but nowadays it’s as popular as ever and any fruit fillings may be used. Even vegetables, although I have to say that concept does nothing for me. The whole point of a crumble is that it is quick and simple to make. By choice I would have plums or apple but never the two together!
Don’t you think there is something so comforting about beautifully ripe fruits at the peak of their season (locally grown is even more satisfying), baked under the simplest of toppings? A pinch of cinnamon or some other autumnal spice I’ll happily handle but absolutely nothing else. I wouldn’t ever want to fuss over the fruits either, I much prefer to taste them and know instantly what they are.
This particular topping is of the nice, soft variety. Not one of those ultra dry ones that catches the back of your throat, or needs copious quantities of liquid to get it down. A small handful of dates provides a little sweetness and bite and really that’s all it needs … though if you served it with whipped coconut cream, a simple ice cream or even just plain, unadulterated coconut milk poured in small quantities over the top, it wouldn’t hurt!
freezing the shortening beforehand ensures the fat stays in clumps and creates a lovely buttery, crumbly textured topping.
Print the recipe here
800g prune plums, halved and stoned
3/4 cup (100g) coconut flour (I use this one)
4 large (80g) medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
100g palm shortening, frozen for 15 mins or so in small cube like pieces (I use this one)
slightly rounded 1/2 cup (50g) finely shredded coconut (I use this one)
1/4 tsp cinnamon powder (I use this one)
large pinch salt (I use this one)
Preheat the oven to 350˚F/180˚C.
Place the plums into a 10″ x 7″ x 2″ baking dish or equivalent capacity.
Put the coconut flour and dates into a food processor and whizz for 20-30 seconds until the dates are broken down into small crumb sized pieces. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse a few times until combined and the shortening resembles small pebbles. You want the texture to be exaggeratedly crumbly, as opposed to fine and cakey.
Put the crumble over the plums and use a fork to cover in a rustic, haphazard fashion. It really doesn’t matter if some of the plums are peeking through the topping, in fact I like to leave it that way to allow the juices to bubble through the gaps.
Cook for about 35 minutes, until the juices are bubbling and the plums are tender when pierced with a knife.