Basic crumble topping recipe, which can be made on it’s own (baked separately) or used for any type of fruit crumble, fruit crisp or other baked or cold puddings and desserts. This crumble topping be also made ahead and frozen for later.
This is the perfect crunchy 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.
PIN IT TO KEEP THIS RECIPE FOR LATER
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!
MORE CRUMBLE RECIPES
- Blackberry & Pear Crumble >>
- Blueberry Crumble (Microwave Recipe for One) >>
- Blueberry & Rhubarb Crumble >>
Why make this recipe?
- Can be used for any fruit based cake or pudding
- Easy recipe to make
- Basic recipe that can be made differently every time you make it
- Bake as it is and use for toppings on ice creams, cold puddings or yoghurts
What exactly is a 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 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 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 consists of 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 a slightly different version, you can also mix in up to 50% dark or brown sugar or coconut sugar substitutes, which will give the crumble more depth and a sort of caramelised flavour.
It’s not a good idea to replace granulated – traditional sugar with liquid sugars, such as honey, maple or agave syrup. The crumble needs the sugar structure to stay nice and crumbly and crisp at the end and if you replace the sugar with liquid sugar the whole thing will get baked into a solid layer of flour, butter and syrup.
I’ve also not tried artificial or even natural sugar replacements with this recipe as I think the final result would be very different to how crumble ment to look and taste like.
Tha’ts not to say, it can’t be done and if you want to/have to replace the traditional sugar in this recipe for something else, it will probably taste O.K and I’d love to know how you get on!
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 dessert 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
Oat Crumble Topping
2/3 plain flour + 1/3 fine oats + dairy butter + sugar + mixed spice or Oatmeal Spice Mix (see below)
Pecan Crumble Topping
Keep the recipe as it is + add a handful of chopped up pecans + ground cinnamon (optional)
SPICE MIX RECIPES THAT GO WELL WITH CRUMBLE TOPPING
- Gingerbread Spice >>
- Mixed Sweet Spice >>
- Pumpkin Pie Spice >>
- Apple Pie Spice >>
- Christmas Stollen Spice >>
- Breakfast Oatmeal Spice >>
How to bake separate 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 crumble topping recipe be made in advance?
The brilliant thing about this crumble topping recipe (as it is), is that you can bake it in advance and then keep it in the fridge or freeze it 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 baked crumble topping
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 keep baked crumble topping in the fridge?
Yes, you can keep baked crumble topping in the fridge placed in a suitable container (with a lid) for up to 7 days. It will probably last a lot longer as the only short shelf life ingredient is the butter, but the crumble will start to absorb the moisture from your fridge and will stop being crunchy.
This is easily corrected, when you take the crumble topping out and added it to your pudding or crumble in the last 5 minutes of baking.
Alternatively, you can also warm up (and slightly dry and make it crunchy again) the crumble topping by placing it in the oven for 5 minutes on 180 Celsius or 350 Fahrenheit.
Can I keep (unbaked) crumble mix in the fridge?
Another alternative way to use my recipe is to make up the crumble mix, store it unbaked and then use it for later.
The crumble mix making is always messy as you either need to use your fingers to crumble the butter or use a pulsating mixer to bring all the ingredients together. Either way, there is quite a bit of washing up and it can take a bit of time to get the fine crumble texture.
The good thing is that you can make up the recipe into a crumble topping mix and then keep it in a suitable container (with sealed lid) in the fridge for up 10-14 days (and probably more) and use it as and when you need to.
This is ideal solution, if you are for example making a small individual fruit crumbles in the microwave and need just a table spoon of crumble mix to add on the top.
Can I freeze baked 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 Celsius or 350 Farenheight for 10-15 minutes or 1-2 minutes in the microwave (make sure it’s in a suitable container for microwave use).
Don’t reheat your crumble (and the fruit pie) more than once.
How do I make my crumble topping crisp?
This can be achieved by baking the crumble topping separately following my recipe and only adding it to the rest of your crumble recipe at a later stage.
Either as a topping, as you are serving your crumble or adding the pre-baked topping to the crumble in the last 5-8 minutes of baking time.
This will ensure that the crumble topping will remain crisp on the top. To keep your crumble topping crisp even after you serve your crumble, make sure that you add any ice-cream or sauces to the side of your crumble and not on the top.
How to make crumble topping without scales?
If you don’t have a kitchen scales at hand, don’t worry you can still make this recipe. If you have a measuring spoons and cups just toggle to the US measurements on my recipe and the recipe will give you the measurements in cups and spoons. I’ve tested this recipe in both US cups measurements and grams too.
If you don’t have a proper measuring cups or spoons, there is another way to get the proportions right. First check the size of your crumble dish and the amount of crumble topping that you want to make.
Then imagine the amount and check what you can use in your kitchen that’s about the right amount. It could be a regular cup, spoon, small bowl or jug.
Half of your chosen measuring utensil will be used for flour, quarter for butter and quarter for sugar. It won’t be exactly precise as flour is lighter than butter or sugar, but at least you will get the proportions about right.
Another way to do crumble topping without measuring equipment is to visually add one portion of butter and one portion of sugar into a bowl. The portion can be anything – one tablespoon (for smaller amounts) or one large salad spoon if you want to make large amount of crumble topping.
Start crumbling the sugar and butter until it’s just about crumbled and then start adding flour. You will need about twice the amount of the one portion of your butter (so 2 tablespoons or 2 large salad spoons for large amount).
Don’t add all of the flour in one go, but do this gradually until you get a fairly fine crumble mix. Don’t let it go too dry, you want to make sure you still get some ‘greasiness’ from the butter coming through.
Once mixed, follow the recipe to bake your crumble or store the crumble mix for later.
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.
This blog post was originally written on 27 July 2022 and last updated on 13 February 2023