Also known as a fruit crisp in parts of North America a fruit crumble is one of Britain’s favourite desserts; a comforting bowl of cooked fruit topped with a layer of flour, sugar and fat crumbled together and baked in a hot oven.
It’s popularity grew enormously in the era of rationing during and after World War II, when a thin layer of crumble was an economic alternative to the volume of pastry needed to make a pie. Foraged and home grown fruit made it even more so.
A crumble is also wonderfully easy to make, especially versions where the fruit filling doesn’t need to be cooked ahead of assembly.
The most popular fruit for crumble is apple, often combined with blackberries or rhubarb, though I’ve also enjoyed crumbles made with peaches, plums or gooseberries. Cherry crumbles are less common, perhaps because the fruit is one that remains quite expensive here, even when its in season.
Recently I bought a bag of ‘sweet cherries’ at a local market that were anything but – far too sharp but with a lovely flavour beneath the acidity.
Although I do love the basic flour, sugar and butter crumble mix, I have come to prefer this version with rolled oats added to the mix. The combination of oats and flour makes for a topping that remains crisp and crumbly on top, but still provides that magical layer of gooey stodginess, where the crumble has sucked up some of the moisture from the fruit below.
I’m calling this a ‘crumble crisp’ because I love both the British and North American names for this dish, and combining them makes me smile.
Sweet Cherry Crumble Crisp
For the filling:
- 450 g pitted cherries , halved
- 25 g Demerara sugar (optional)
- 1 tbsp cherry brandy or other cherry liqueur (optional)
For the topping:
- 100 g plain flour
- 75 g unsalted butter
- 100 g Demerara sugar
- 50 g rolled oats
As I don’t have a cherry pitter, I halved each cherry and used the tip of the paring knife to help slip out the pip. Since the cherries sit more snugly together when halved, I recommend halving them even if you have a proper pitter.
Equipment: Our casserole dish has a 7 inch (18 cm) diameter, which results in a decent depth of fruit beneath a generous layer of topping. Using a larger dish will result in thinner layers and may require an adjustment to the cooking times. However, you can double the quantities and use a 10 inch (25 cm) diameter dish to make a larger crumble, if you prefer.
If the cherries are a little sharp, sprinkle with 25 grams of Demerara sugar, cover with cling film and set aside for an hour.
If you plan to bake the crumble as soon as it’s assembled, preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Alternatively, you can prepare the crumble a few hours in advance, set aside, and bake in a preheated oven when required.
To create the crumble crisp topping, blend the flour and butter in a food processor for a few seconds until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Using the pulse function helps to distribute the butter evenly and ensure that the entire mixture is crumbled. If you don’t have a food processor or prefer to do this by hand make sure the butter is cold, cut it into small cubes and then rub the flour and butter together with your fingertips until the entire mixture looks like breadcrumbs.
Add the Demerara sugar and rolled oats to the flour and butter mixture and stir with a spoon or spatula. Be gentle enough not to compress the topping, but ensure that the oats and sugar are well mixed in.
If you are adding cherry brandy or liqueur to the cherries, pour the alcohol over the cherries, stir well and then transfer cherries to your baking dish (see above), making sure to include all the juices and liquid in the bowl.
Spread the crumble crisp topping evenly over the cherry filling. Don’t pat it down, the intention is for it to retain an aerated crumbly texture.
Bake in a preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, until the topping has taken on a golden colour.
Serve hot with custard, cream or vanilla ice cream.
What’s your favourite recipe for fresh cherries? Have you used them in a crumble or do you prefer a more traditional apple filling? And what do you think of adding oats into the topping? Let me know in the comments; I love hearing from you!
Other ideas for fresh, canned and dried cherries:
Please leave a comment - I love hearing from you!24 Comments to "Sweet Cherry Crumble Crisp"
My favourite recipe for fresh cherries at the moment is Raymond Blanc’s cherry sauce for duck, part of his series of simple French food for BBC.
Oh that does sound good!
oh man alive that looks so good… I haven’t had cherries in such a long time. I love that you use cherry brandy here too, I have a very old bottle that needs using up. Divine!
Figured a little extra flavour note wouldn’t be a bad thing! 🙂
I love a good fruit crumble especially when it’s made with cherries! Love the addition of cherry brandy or liqueur in here as well, sounds heavenly! I wonder how would this turn out if served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream but sounds amazing!
Perfect with ice cream, with crumbles either have hot custard, cold custard, or vanilla ice cream!
Haha I thought it was a full size casserole dish of crumble then I saw your hand and realised it was cute wee individual pots. Either way I’m in!
No it’s a single large one, just that Pete has huge hands!! The dish is 18 cm in diameter!
That is so funny!
Loving it! Giant Hand Pete!
Ooh I love a cherry crumble and so pleased ti cherry season again – the best.
Love cherry season!
Mmmmm you’re making me hungry Kavey! This sounds delicious. I hate how expensive cherries are 🙁 they are £6 for large punnet in our local grocery store!!! Hardly budget friendly…still, this sounds delicious. I too like adding oats to my crumble top. Great recipe!
Yes I know what you mean! A couple of years ago I was working a contract in central London and the fruit stall just outside the office sold fabulous cherries for lower prices. Last year I could only get to the supermarket and there were so much more expensive!
I love apple crumble with a bit of ginger in the topping. I’ve never tried it with oats, though.
Ginger sounds like a great addition. I always used to poo-poo the addition of oats but have really come to prefer it!
Sounds so good! I agree that a crumble topping needs oats and demerera sugar – that’s my favourite. Very interesting to know about the history of crumble!
Thanks Kate, I found it interesting too. Glad to know you also love the demerera sugar and oats style topping.
Individual crumble is a great way to keep it healthy – I’m gonna give this a go 🙂
Can’t claim that idea, we made one large crumble here but if I had suitable small dishes, would happily make individual ones!
Haha, I thought it was a giant hand too!
I am loving cherries at the moment and all the different ways that you can eat them. This is one of my favourite comfort dishes.
Mine too, Dannii!
I add oats to my crumbles too – way way better than the original! And no, I don’t think I’ve ever had cherries in a crumble, to be honest they rarely make it home in the car with me around 🙂
Heheh, we usually eat them just as they are but these were too sharp. And yay for oaty crumbles!