Crumbles are originally British dessert dishes that were first made during the second world war when food was strictly rationed, leading to the use of a basic mixture of flour, sugar and margarine to make the top crust of pies. This pie-making variation resulted to the creation of crumbles, which became popular because they were very simple to make.
In the United States, crumbles are often referred to as crisps. Crumbles closely resemble fruit cobblers although cobblers typically have smoother toppings.
Crumbles consist of stewed fruit as filling with a crumbly topping made of mixed flour, fat, and sugar. Crumbles are oven-baked until the topping becomes crisp. They make warm satisfying desserts and are often served with cream, custard or ice cream.
Some fruits popularly used in making crumbles are apples, berries, rhubarbs, plums, and peaches. There are also a variety of crumble toppings that you can use such as ground nuts, oats, ground cinnamon, chopped pecans, nutmeg, and grated cheese. Typically, crumble toppings are sprinkled with brown sugar on top, which becomes caramelized when baked. Some American recipes for crumbles use cookie crumbs and, sometimes, breakfast cereals for the topping.
Here are some helpful tips to bake hearty crumbles:
Add some dried fruits such as raisins or dried cherries into the fruit mixture. You can soak dried fruits first for 15 minutes in fruit juice or liquors like brandy or rum to make them plump and to add flavor. Because the fruits will be baked, you have to choose fruits that can handle heat well. Avoid whole citrus fruits and those with soft flesh like bananas.
The sweetness of one fruit will differ from another so if you are replacing the fruit in a crumble recipe, you may have to vary the amount of sugar. Start with three fourths of the required sugar in the recipe and just add sugar to suit your taste.
Since crumbles do not have a bottom crust, the acid in fruits will interact with a metal dish so use a glass or porcelain oven-proof baking dish instead.
You can mix and prepare the fruit filling in a pan a few hours before cooking. Just cover the pan tightly with a plastic wrap and then refrigerate. Add the topping just before you bake the crumble.
Crumbles are popular fruit desserts because they are easy to make since they do not have a bottom crust. Plus, their strong fruity flavors are loved by almost anyone. Try apple cranberry, peach raspberries or other fruit combinations.