I have only ever met one person who doesn’t like crumble. I didn’t find this out until we had been friends for a while. It may have been a deal breaker earlier in our friendship. Crumbles are so versatile, easy, tasty, textural, a great excuse to make custard. They are also the ultimate in year round comfort food. Even in hot weather I can enjoy a good crumble.
This poached rhubarb crumble is sort of a posh, restauranty style affair – forgive me. I like to make crumble this way sometimes because it avoids that layer of slimey crumble mixture where the juice of the fruit has soaked in. That is my mum’s favourite part. Each to their own I guess. It is also a lighter dessert which may suit if you are having a big meal. If you don’t have the time or patience for this more labour intensive crumble just use the same ingredients to make it in the usual way.
If you do that though you wont get the delicious poaching liquor from the rhubarb. It is a dessert in its own right & I love it on ice cream. It is also a fantastic cocktail ingredient. I think poaching fruits is a lovely way to cook them. It is delicate so they don’t become overly soft & they retain a lot of flavour. It also allows you to infuse some spice into them. I have used star anise here which I think goes really well with sour fruits.
We always have this with ginger custard. It goes especially well with rhubarb but is great with any sort of fruit.
Gluten-free Crumble Topping Tips
I have tried a number of gluten free crumble recipes in the last year. There are loads online & they mainly just swap regular flour for a GF version. This creates a perfectly acceptable crunchy crumble. However I find that it lacks texture, it is too light for me. GF flour mixes are usually a combination of really light flours such a rice & potato flour. They don’t have a lot of body. For a crumble which is nearer to one made with wheat flour it is necessary to add something to give it a bit of chew.
I basically make it up each time with half GF flour mix & then one or two of the following; oats, oat flour, ground almonds, coconut flour (you will be able to taste coconut), sesame seeds, linseed or chia seeds. All these are easy to find in supermarkets & high street health shops. The combination I use depends on my mood, what I have in the cupboard & the fruit I am using, for example I really like coconut flour with mango & pineapple crumble.
Gluten Free Crumble
Ingredients: (serves 4)
1 star anise
2 tsp rose water (optional)
Gluten Free Crumble Topping
200g GF flour
40g chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees
1. Prepare the poaching liquid by gently dissolving the sugar into the water & add a star anise. Meanwhile, wash & slice the rhubarb. Once the sugar has dissolved add the rhubarb. Keep the heat low & poach the fruit gently. It will take at least 5 minutes maybe as long as 10 depending on the rhubarb.
2. To prepare the crumble topping: Rub the butter into the flours just as you would for a pastry. The texture should end up a little bit sticky rather than like breadcrumbs. This is because of the high butter content. Finally add the sugar & chopped walnuts & gently mix everything together.
4. Once the rhubarb is soft, carefully remove the pieces from the liquid & place on a plate to drain for a few minutes. Turn up the heat on the poaching liquid & boil it for a few minutes to thicken & create a syrup.
5. Tip any excess liquid from the poached rhubarb & sprinkle with rose water.