We’ve just spent a few days in the glorious highlands of Scotland. Me with my camera and the triathlete with his bike, taking part in the Caledonian Etape. Or trying to anyway; the whole weekend turned out to be rather more eventful than planned when somebody sabotaged the event by scattering carpet tacks across the route, possibly in protest at the road closures put in place for the event (scheduled to last an incredibly inconvenient three whole hours).
The Scots as it turns out have a whole vocabulary to describe rain. After a dreich day, the rain upgraded its status to stotting down. The weather in England hasn’t been much better since we got back from our break (grey and distinctly chilly) so this seems an opportune time to share a crumble recipe.
I’ve dallied with ‘healthier fats’ in crumbles, but haven’t yet come up with a satisfactory recipe (oils seem to produce a dish more rubble than crumble). A compromise is to accompany the butter with a high fruit to topping ratio, not too much sugar and plenty of good stuff in the topping. Wholemeal spelt flour, whole oats plus roughly chopped hazelnuts for texture. Spelt flour has a toasty, nutty flavour and is my current favourite standby flour for all but the most serious of baking recipes. (Shopping note: as with the unmilled spelt grains, spelt flour comes in wholegrain and white varieties. Check the label to see which sort you are getting).
Our crumble accompaniment tends to start from luxurious, fresh vanilla custard on the first day to a more austere, sour note like natural yogurt or half-fat creme fraiche for the leftovers.
Other recipes featuring oats, plums and spelt
Baked plums with cinnamon and honey
Fig and plum porridge
Butternut squash, oat and ginger cake bites
Summery herb, salmon and spelt salad
Rhubarb and Ginger Thickie
The photo at the top of this post is from Queen’s View, reputably the most photographed view in Perthshire and a favourite of Queen Victoria.
Recipe for Plum and cherry crumble, with an oat & spelt top
Serves four to six people
For the fruity part
Half a dozen plums, quartered and stones removed
1 can black cherries, drained
1 tsp allspice
1 ball stem ginger, finely chopped
2 tbsp demerara sugar
For the topping
110g spelt flour
40g rolled oats
75g butter (fridge cold)
60g demerara sugar
30g hazelnuts, roughly chopped
Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F.
Mix together the plums, cherries, allspice, ginger and 2 tbsp sugar in an ovenproof dish.
Chop the butter into cubes and place in a bowl with all of the other topping recipes. Crumble the butter, flour, oats etc between thumb and forefinger until the mixture becomes an evenly textured crumb.
Pour the crumble mixture over the fruit and pat down.
Place the dish on a baking tray and bake for 20 minutes.
These timings produces a crumble with a little bit of texture left in the fruit. If you prefer your fruit to be on the mushier side then pre-cook the fruit mixture for 10 minutes before adding the crumble topping and baking for the 20 minutes specified.