Cooking tip for the ‘crunchiest’ crumble topping works every time

Crumble topping is traditionally made by rubbing butter into flour to form a light, sandy mixture.

Oats, muesli and even granola are commonly added to put a twist on the base recipe, but according to a pastry chef, it’s not the only way to improve the crumble topping.

For the “best” and “crunchiest” fruit crumble, journalist Melissa Clark revealed that it’s all about the cooking technique.

The New York Times reporter claimed that she learnt the trick from a pastry chef more than two decades ago, but failed to try it for herself until recently.

She said that the cooking technique involves an extra stage of baking to ensure the breadcrumbs are the best they can be.

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Instead of sprinkling the raw crumbs directly on top of the fruity filling, the mixture should be spread out on a baking tray instead.

Cooking them separately allows them to crisp up and become “cookielike”, which subsequently acts as a barrier between the moist fruit.

When the baked crumbs are placed on top of the base, they “hold their own” rather than becoming mushy when they absorb the juices.

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Melissa claimed: “The parts touching the syrupy filling may get slightly soft, but the rest of the mound becomes an irresistible, audibly crackling crust.”

While some people prefer a softer crumble topping, the added crunch achieved by double baking is unbeatable – and doesn’t take long to do.

Coarse crumble topping requires 15 minutes in the oven to reach the perfect texture, though finer toppings will be cooked in around seven minutes.

Once it’s been baked separately, the topping can be layered onto the fruit as normal and cooked once more.

Crumble topping recipe


  • 50g butter, cold and cubed
  • 100g plain flour
  • 50g demerara sugar

To make the topping, rub the butter and flour together between warm fingertips to make a light breadcrumb texture. Avoid overworking it to prevent a heavy, stodgy crumble.

Add in the sugar until combined and sprinkle onto a baking tray to cook separately in the oven.

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