Basic crumble topping recipe, which can be made on it’s own or used for any type of fruit crumble, fruit crisp or other baked or cold puddings and desserts. Can be also made ahead and frozen.
This is the perfect crumble topping recipe that can be used for any fruit based cake or pudding.
I like making fruit crumbles, especially in the autumn and winter as they are just so comforting eaten warm. Most of the time I don’t really stick to a specific crumble topping recipe, just use whatever leftovers of butter I have and mix it with sugar and a bit of flour.
This is why I thought, this time round, I will actually take my time to test few versions of the recipe I normally make, measure it and finally have ‘to go’ recipe that I can use with confidence every time!
Since I’ve made this crumble on it’s own, I also find out that it’s pretty amazing as a topping for my homemade vanilla ice cream recipe. So, I hope you enjoy the recipe as much as I do!
Why make this recipe?
- Can be used for any fruit based cake or pudding
- Easy recipe to make
- Basic recipe that can be made different every time you make it
- Bake as it is and use for toppings on ice creams, cold puddings or yoghurts
What exactly is crumble topping recipe?
My crumble topping recipe is the basic recipe you can use to top any fruit based cake, pudding or cobbler.
You can also make it separate (which is what I did) and then use it as a crumble topping for various cold puddings, such as yoghurt swirled with chocolate or salted caramel sauce and the ready made topping broken and crumbled on the top.
It’s a recipe that can be used with any other fruit crumbles and you can easily make it differently every time.
The crumble topping is also very nice (way too nice!) eaten on it’s own!
What makes this recipe work
Without a doubt, this is the proportion of butter against the sugar and flour. As much as I like to keep the calories down, with this recipe you do need to add a copious amounts of butter to make it work and to make the taste just so amazing! If you skim the butter, you might end up with a slightly tougher crumble topping.
My top tips on making this recipe successfully the first time round
- Use cold butter, straight from the fridge
- Cut up the butter with a knife into smaller pieces
Time saving tip
You can use a food processor (or food mixer) and mix the crumble in next to no time.
Cut up the butter into smaller chunks, add to flour and sugar and mix for 30 seconds or so. Check after 30 seconds and only mix more if the crumble doesn’t look like it’s come together.
If you have warm hands, try to use your fingertips more and don’t try to melt the butter too much. Few bigger pieces of butter are actually good, because they will make your crumble lighter in texture.
Any specialist equipment needed?
There is no need to use fancy equipment with this recipe, fork or your fingers will do! However, if you have at home suitable mixer or food processor (blender) and don’t mind cleaning it afterwards, you can use it instead of the traditional method.
You will need oven or microwave to finish your dish. Oven will give you more even bake and nice crunch on the top. I prefer this way of making the crumble.
If you don’t want to use or can’t use oven, you can also use microwave, but make sure you use microwave safe container and lower the time. The microwave method will only need 2-3 minutes and you will need to check after about 1-2 minute, depending on the strength of your microwave.
Allergies & dietary requirements
This basic crumble topping recipe contains dairy (butter) and gluten (flour).
It can be easily made gluten free (use basic gluten-free flour mix) and dairy free (use plant based butter or plant based butter substitute).
Unlike baking, where you need to be careful about how you use gluten free flour and can’t often just swap the flours without further adjusting the recipe, with this recipe you can do that.
This is because the crumble doesn’t need to rise or hold any other ingredients (as it would if you were baking gluten free cake or making gluten free bread)
Ingredients & Possible Substitutions
The best butter for this recipe is a regular dairy butter (full-fat), which gives the crumble the best flavour.
You can use other alternatives, but the consistency and flavour will vary. There is nothing wrong with that, you just need to know that in a recipe that consist just 3 ingredients, the flavours do heavily depend on the type of fat/butter you use.
I’ve used regular plain (cake) flour without any raising agent. I also sometimes, use gluten free flour and if you use a good mix of gluten free flours you can’t even tell the crumble is different.
You could also use other types of low gluten or gluten free flours, such as rye, lupin flour, potato flour or spelt flour. You can also mix in plain wholemeal flour to give the crumble a bit more of a ‘bite’!
Regular white caster or granulated sugar is perfect for this recipe.
If you want to make slightly different version, you can also mix in up to 50% dark or brown sugar, which will give the crumble more depth and sort of caramelised flavour.
The basic crumble topping recipe variation ideas
My crumble topping recipe is perfect for any type of fruit based crumble.
The best thing is that once you master the right proportions of butter, sugar and flour, you can start adding different ingredients to make your crumble topping flavour compliment your fruit crumble (or whatever pudding or desert you are making).
There is no right or wrong with this recipe, so you can let your imagination go wild, but here are my favourite – tried and tested flavour ideas:
Cinnamon Crumble Topping
1/2 teaspoon (or more) of cinnamon + flour + sugar + butter
Dark Sugar Crumble Topping
50% dark sugar + 50% white sugar + dairy butter + flour
Chocolate Crumble Topping
chocolate (milk, dark or white) pieces (add a handful) + butter + flour + white sugar
Ginger Crumble Topping
1 tablespoon of crystalised ginger pieces + 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger spice + flour + sugar + butter
Wholemeal Crumble Topping
50% wholemeal plain (cake flour) + 50% plain flour + dairy butter + white sugar
How to make crumble topping
Preheat oven to 180C or 350F (Gas mark 5).
Cut up the butter into smaller pieces
Place the flour and sugar in a bowl and roughly rub in the butter with your fingers.
Spoon over your fruit crumble or add to a small shallow dish to bake on it’s own.
Bake for about 20 minutes until golden if baking the crumble topping on it’s own.
If you are using this recipe to add to your fruit crumble recipe, follow your crumble recipe (this would usually add about extra 10 minutes) and bake until the crumble is golden on the top and the fruit is bubbling at the sides.
Remove from the oven, leave to cool down a little bit and then serve with custard or ice cream or whipped cream on the top.
How to serve your crumble topping
You can use any fruit based crumble dessert and use this crumble topping recipe instead of the one that’s in your recipe. Bake it as directed in your fruit based crumble recipe (or follow my suggestions here) and serve hot with homemade vanilla ice cream, cream or custard.
Alternatively you can make the crumble topping recipe separately, bake it and then crumble it on top of your favourite pudding or fruit based cakes. This crumble topping will last a few days in the fridge, so you don’t need to use it up straight away.
What you can you use crumble topping with
Use it cold (baked but cooled down) on:
- ice cream
- fruit salad
- chocolate mouse
- instead of biscuit base for no-bake cheesecakes (try my Biscoff & Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe)
Use it hot (baked) with:
- Fruit Crumble
- Baked fruit
- Tray bakes or other cakes
This recipe size is enough for crumble recipe for 4-6 people.
Can I scale up or down this recipe?
Yes, you can easily scale up this recipe, just double or triple this recipe to make more or to make large fruit crumble or crumble tray bake or sheet cake.
It’s also possible to scale down this recipe, but I’m not sure it’s very cost effective, unless you have something else already baking in the oven.
If you want to scale down the recipe, I’d use microwave to cook/bake the crumble. This is essentially what I do when I make my crumble for one recipe.
Can this recipe be made in advance?
The brilliant thing about this recipe (as it is), is that you can bake the crumble topping in advance and then keep it in the fridge or freeze to use later on.
This works particularly well, if you are thinking of using the crumble topping for cheesecake bases, crumbling it on the top of cold puddings or ice creams.
How to store this recipe
If you use the crumble topping recipe on top of fruit crumble, you need to follow the fruit crumble recipe storage suggestions. In many cases, your fruit crumble with the crumble topping will be fine for 1-3 days in the fridge.
If you are using this recipe to make separately from the fruit base, then the crumble topping will last much longer. This is because once baked the butter, flour and sugar is fairly stable and as long as you keep it in the fridge or freezer, it has a long shelflife.
Baked crumble topping will last 3-5 days in the fridge.
Baked crumble topping will last 3-6 months in the freezer.
You can also keep unbaked crumble topping in the fridge (or freezer) if you wish. This way, it will last good 7 days (and probably more) in the fridge or again 3-6 months in the freezer.
Can I freeze crumble topping?
Yes, you can freeze crumble topping. The best way to freeze the crumble topping is when it’s baked separately from the fruit base pie or crumble pudding.
Leave the crumble to cool down completely and then remove it whole or cut into pieces for easy portioning later on. Wrap in freeze suitable wrapping bags, containers or plastic bags and place in the freezer.
Use within 3-6 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge if possible. You can also defrost your crumble topping in the room temperature or microwave (on a very low setting).
How to re-heat crumble recipe
You can easily re-heat the crumble (including the whole fruit crumble pie) by placing it in the oven for 180 C for 10-15 minutes or 1-2 minutes in the microwave (make sure it’s in a suitable container).
Don’t reheat your crumble (and the fruit pie) more than once.
Crumble Topping – Universal Recipe
- 80-100 grams plain flour cake flour
- 50 grams unsalted butter
- 50 grams caster sugar white sugar
- Preheat oven to 180C or 350F (Gas mark 5).
- Cut up the butter into smaller pieces
- Place the flour and sugar in a bowl and roughly rub in the butter with your fingers.
- Spoon over your fruit crumble or add to a small shallow dish to bake on it's own.
- Bake for about 20 minutes until golden if baking the crumble topping on it's own.
- If you are using this recipe to add to your fruit crumble recipe, follow your crumble recipe (this would usually add about extra 10 minutes) and bake until the crumble is golden on the top and the fruit is bubbling at the sides.
- Remove from the oven, leave to cool down a little bit and then serve with custard or ice cream or whipped cream on the top.