Sheer joy: a quince and pear crumble

If heaven doesn’t include apple crumble, or raspberry crumble, or quince and pear crumble, served, of course with vanilla bean ice cream, then we have been fed a lot of ordinary lines for a long time.

This crumble provides all the textural and flavour variation of a crusty pastry, with none of the effort of preparation, and none of the heavy aftereffects. And it is so simple to prepare, it should be written in indelible ink on all fridge doors.


3 quinces, peeled, seeded, cut into smallish pieces and tossed in lemon juice

4 pears, peeled etc as for quinces

30–40g white sugar — Taste as you go. You could need more sugar depending on the sweetness of the pears. Don’t use brown, as it colours the puree.


1 cup self-raising flour, sifted

½ cup brown sugar — Demerara sugar makes for outstanding results for this dish. It seems to provide just that extra bit of crunch that turns a crumble into seventh heaven.

about 100g cold butter, cut into cubes


Put the fruit and sugar into a flattish bowl which can go into a microwave. Cover with plastic wrap and cook on high (500 watt) for 20–25 minutes until the fruit is butter-tender and has given off a deal of juice.


Toss the lot into a whizzer and process to a fine puree. Taste again. Set aside to cool.


Mix the flour and the sugar, and work in the butter piece by piece until the mixture has the consistency and appearance of breadcrumbs. Set aside. You might like to make double, for another crumble the day after you demolish this one.


Spread the fruit mix over the bottom of a pie dish, and sprinkle the flour-sugar-butter mix over the top, to a depth of about a centimetre. You can do this if the puree is still hot.


Bake in a 200°C oven for 25–30 minutes, until the crumble has browned and has cooked through. Usually the puree will be starting to bubble a little at this point. Don’t let it get too aggressive, lest it bursts through the crumble.


Serve with vanilla bean ice cream. You can serve with cream, but for a very hot crumble, straight from the oven, you can’t beat the temperature variation and texture that come from perfect ice cream. Any combination of quinces and apples and pears; or apples and pears; or rhubarb; or raspberries, blackcurrants or gooseberries in season work well in this crumble.

WINE: German wines must wonder what they did to the world in the seventies when they were all the rage. Now, ask any. retailer of good wine. They are hard work to sell. For this crumble, lash out and get a good auslese from the Moselle or the Rhine and enjoy.