Quick berry crumble

An impromptu dessert to keep up your sleeve.


I’ve written before about not really planning on dessert and then, as the evening rolls on, thinking a little sweet something would be a nice idea. Once that thought bubble emerges, it becomes increasingly hard to swat away. It insists.

I’d normally rely on the Great Wall of Experimental Frozen Treats that threatens to consume my freezer, raw fruit from the bowl or, if I’m lucky, a cake that has managed to make it through the day. The idea of a warm dessert … well, that’s going to take some effort.

Or maybe not. This quick crumble fits the bill beautifully: berries from the freezer and a crumble topping that’s easy to scramble together and a scant half-hour in the oven to bake.

Making it the first time is easy enough. Making it a second time will be even easier: I’ve given quantities below for two lots of the topping. Just slip half of it into a ziplock bag and you can freeze it, all ready to go for Round 2. Armed with nothing more than two bags snatched from your freezer, you are then mere moments away from a very decent, home-cooked dessert.

I offer you the way I make it as a guide. If you don’t have demerara sugar, which I love for its toffee crunch, improvise with regular or brown. Sweeten the fruit if you want (icing sugar melts easily) or don’t. Switch the fruit up as you like. I make mine in an enamel pie dish that measures 24 x 18cm (10 x 7 inches), but it will be fine in any ovenproof dish.

Quick berry crumble


Serves 2.

for the crumble topping:
100g (scant cup) flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
75g (5 tablespoons) cold butter, diced
2 tablespoons demerara sugar
2 tablespoons ground almonds

250g (9 oz) frozen mixed berries
1 teaspoon cornflour (corn starch)
2 teaspoon icing sugar (confectioner's sugar)

Set your oven 200°C (400°F).

Put the flour, baking powder and butter in a bowl and rub with the pads of your forefingers and thumbs until crumbs form. (Alternatively, pulse in a small food processor.) Stir in the demerara and ground almonds.

Put the fruit in a baking dish. Sprinkle with cornflour and sugar, and toss with a spoon.

Spoon half the crumble topping thickly over the fruit. (Freeze the remainder; see note above.)

Bake for 25 minutes, letting it stand for 5 minutes after removing from the oven.