Comfort Food: Warm Berry Crumble

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(berries, waiting)

It’s been one of those weeks. Being on exchange doesn’t save me from midterm blowout, and after a week of struggling with assignments and writing in stifling academic journal science-speak, I was ready for two things: a luxurious long nap, and a treat for my taste buds.

The thing is though, by the time you’re done worrying about work, no one really has the energy or time to be stirring caramel custards for thirty minutes straight, or washing up buttered pots, pans and baking trays. This recipe is best for those moments. A warm, rustic dessert that is comforting, easy, and so nourishing for the soul. It only took me ten minutes (prep time included, not that there is very much prep to begin with!) to make a large batch of the crumble topping. Now there is a handy box of it sitting in my freezer, so I can have a pick-me-up whenever some healing is required. You can even bake single portions of this in a toaster oven, which is what I do when I’m at home in Singapore. Humble ingredients, pre-made components, fast, delicious, and no guilt involved — my idea of a perfect dessert!

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All you need for a basic crumble topping: plain flour, cold unsalted butter (diced), brown sugar and baking powder. I might try adding some oats/granola and some cinnamon next time!

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Rub all the ingredients together with your fingertips till they form a sandy rubble-like texture.

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Berries! You can get bags of frozen mixed berries from supermarkets, and they aren’t very expensive at all. These were on sale at safeway this week too — what joy!! I bought two bags to hoard in the freezer. The ones in Singapore are the same, always a beautiful mix of strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries (my favourite!). These went straight from freezer to the plate, have some sugar, vanilla extract and corn flour sprinkled over them. The berries release their juice when they cook down, so the corn flour helps to make it into a fruit sauce.

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Bake till the fruit is warm and soft, and crumble is golden brown.

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Serve with ice-cream, if desired. Haagen Daz vanilla bean ice cream was on sale too! Pure kitchen kismet.

What you’ll need (Crumble Topping): Makes enough for 3 large crumbles, depending on how sparingly you use it. Probably enough for 10 single portions, baked in little glass bowls or ramekins.

200g plain flour
100g cold butter, cut into small cubes
1/2 tsp baking powder
6 tbsp brown sugar

– Put the flour, baking powder and butter into a mixing bowl and rub together till you get a sandy, rubble-like texture.

– After this, stir in the sugar.

– Put into a freezer bag to store. If you’re using the topping immediately, I would let it sit in the freezer for about 15 minutes first while you get everything else ready.

What you’ll need (fruits & assembly):

single portion

100g frozen berries (or other fruits)
1 teaspoon cornflour
2 teaspoons sugar + a few drops of vanilla extract
75g frozen crumble topping (or as much as you desire :))

large crumble – single portion x4. Exact measurements don’t quite matter as long as the ratio of fruits to cornflour and sugar are roughly the same. Cooking by feeling is the way to go!

– Place berries in a pie dish/bowl/ramekin

– Sprinkle cornflour, sugar and vanilla over the fruits, toss lightly to mix well

– Strew crumble topping over the fruits. Do this carelessly and messily for maximum prettiness!

– Bake in a preheated 220C/428F oven, or a toaster oven on high, till fruits are warm and slightly bubbly, and crumble is golden brown on top. About 20-25 minutes for a large crumble, and 12-15 minutes for a single portion.

— recipe hastily copied down from an old episode of Nigella Express

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6 thoughts on “Comfort Food: Warm Berry Crumble

    1. i am going to try it with apples this week!! i doubt it’s as straightforward as tumbling berries into the dish though – will probably need to slice thinly + cook with sugar, cinnamon and a bit of lemon juice before baking together with the crumble topping. will let you know how it goes :)

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