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A blackberry and apple crumble

A crumble is a dish of British origin that can be made in a sweet or savoury version, depending on ingredients used. A sweet variety usually contains stewed fruit topped with a crumbly mixture of fat (usually butter), flour, and sugar. A savoury version uses meat, vegetables and a sauce for the filling, with cheese replacing sugar in the crumble mix. The crumble is baked in an oven until the topping is crisp. The dessert variety is often served with custard, cream or ice cream as a hearty, warm dessert after a meal. The savoury variety can be served along with accompanying vegetables.

Rhubarb crumble
Rhubarb and apple crumble pizzette

Popular fruits used in crumbles include apple, blackberry, peach, rhubarb, gooseberry, and plum. The topping may also include rolled oats, ground almonds or other nuts, and sometimes sour milk (e.g. vinegar and milk) is added to give the crumble a more extravagant taste. Brown sugar is often sprinkled over the crumble topping, which caramelises slightly when the pudding is baked. In some recipes the topping is made from broken biscuits (cookies in American English) or even breakfast cereals, but this is not traditional.

Crumbles originated in Britain during World War II. Due to strict rationing the ingredients required to make the bases of pies contained too much of the necessary flour, fat and sugar to make the pastry. So a simple mixture of flour, margarine and sugar was used to make the top of the crumble. The dish was also popular due to its simplicity.

In some parts of America a very similar dish may be called a crisp. It is also similar to a fruit cobbler (popular in the USA), although the topping for a cobbler is generally smoother and less crumbly.

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