Today I’m posting another Primal Plate recipe for old-fashioned, fruit crumble because it is the ultimate comfort food when the nights start to get chillier.
In the past couple of weeks I’ve made several versions of this lovely, warming pudding in quick succession - mainly because I wasn’t able to persuade Sarah to pick up her camera before she’d already grabbed a spoon. It’s perhaps as well. Initially I wanted to feature organic English damsons I’d purchased from Abel & Cole but they were too time consuming and tricky to prep.
I abandoned my first attempt at de-stoning them raw because after I’d tackled just two of the little blighters it was apparent that the rest would take me the best part of an hour and even then, most of the damson flesh would still be firmly stuck to the stones. Frustrated, I threw the whole lot in to the pan with the intention of warning my fellow diners to ‘watch out for stones’ when tucking-in.
The end result was indeed a delicious dessert that turned into a game of tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor etc…as we each lined up a pile of discarded damson stones at the side of our plates. Sarah’s boyfriend cheated by adding one of his to her’s so that she ended up with ‘rich man’. I don’t doubt him. But if you have no idea what I’m talking about…when I was a little girl sent away to boarding school, the last stone you counted on your pudding plate was supposed to represent the man you would marry. Naturally, none of us wanted a poor man, beggar man or thief! As a spontaneous game for slightly-drunk-on-champagne grown-ups it was good fun but for a sensible blog recipe, getting your fellow diners to sift, sort and spit numerous random fruit stones lurking in their dessert isn’t quite the done thing.
My second attempt at damson crumble was equally problematic. After donning a pair of food-safe gloves, it still took a long time to separate the stones from the juicy, fruity mass of cooked damson compote prior to adding the crumble topping. I thought I’d been thorough until two of us inadvertently chomped down hard on several stones that weren’t supposed to be there! Clearly apples, blackberries, rhubarb, plums or even a mixture of frozen seasonal fruits are a safer bet. I’ve chosen red plums for their vibrant colour and because they’re quick and easy to prepare.
English plums are at their best August through to September, which is when the beautiful dark red-skinned plums on my tree were ripe and ready. However, if you’re quick, you can still buy organic plums at Abel & Cole, Waitrose and Riverford Organics. A ripe plum yields to gentle pressure, firmer plums will ripen and soften at room temperature. For use in this recipe, select plums that are just on the firm side of ripe. It’s worth knowing that plums freeze well.
This no-added sugar and grain-free Autumnal Fruit Crumble is one of life’s joys. Nothing quite beats breaking through its buttery, crunchy, crumble topping to the warm, red, juicy fruits beneath. Unlike a classic fruit crumble loaded with refined sugar and starchy carbohydrates, which are best avoided if you want to achieve health, this fruit crumble helps to nourish your body and feed your soul. Tip: It’s even more delicious when served with cooling, vanilla ice cream or clotted cream straight from the fridge.
Organic plums offer impressive health benefits and the ‘crumble’, made with tiger nuts, which are actually a sweet-tasting, root vegetable rich in nutrients - vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and prebiotic fibre (otherwise known as resistant starch) - has a remarkable effect on your digestion and metabolism because it encourages the growth of your ‘gut-friendly’ bacteria. Taking care of your gut helps take care of so many other things in your body - your skin, digestion, immunity against disease, energy levels and even your moods and brain function.
Both components of fruit crumble - the fruity filling and fibre-rich, nutty topping - can be made several days in advance then covered and stored in the refrigerator until you’re ready to assemble and cook. For this reason, rather than make one large fruit crumble, I like to divide the ingredients in to individual-sized portions that can be enjoyed whenever the mood takes us. It’s a great way to feed last minute guests - albeit a bit too convenient if your intention isn’t to eat pudding every day! Our meals generally focus on lots of vegetables and minimal fruit, but when the appetite for fruit crumble strikes (oftentimes in my household) it’s good to know that plums only contain 7 grams of carbohydrate per medium plum weighing 65 grams and the satiating effects of prebiotic fibre actually helps reduce cravings for fattening and unhealthy foods.
Nourishing food that you enjoy is the ultimate goal of eating well, so in my view, there are a lot worse dietary boo-boos than feasting on a glut of seasonal fruit that at this time of year is there for the taking. The appetite for sweet, autumnal fruit is probably written in our DNA. Feasting on sugar-containing fruit adds extra padding to our bodies that was a matter of life or death for our ancestors facing winter food scarcity and sub-zero temperatures. The human body’s ability to ‘eat’ its own stored body fat for energy when close to starvation meant the ‘survival of the fittest’ came down to being one of the fattest. The opposite is true today and there’s no longer any reason for humans to gorge themselves silly on sugary foods. What we need is the means to satisfy our inherited craving for ‘sweet’ without getting fat.
Rule one is: If you’re going to eat sugar, the natural sugar contained in fresh, organic, fibre-rich fruit is the best way to get your fix. Rule two: If you’re trying to lose weight, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and (tah-dah!) plums are the lowest carbohydrate i.e. lowest-in-sugar fruits to enjoy. Rule three: Try fasting from time to time. In this way, nature’s bounty and a cook’s love need never go to waste.
I agree that Autumn Fruit Crumble is a little carb heavy for a keto diet (although compared to a standard plum crumble, it contains less than half the carbs) but I have no problem with a little seasonal indulgence that provides an opportunity for balancing ourselves with our earth’s harvest. Translated, that means treating the large bucketful of Bramley apples in my cellar with the respect they deserve by making as many nutritious fruit crumbles as my family can tolerate. As the cooler temperatures of autumn roll-in, a warming, Autumn Fruit Crumble creates the perfect setting for friends and family to cozy up together for good food and a sense of comfort that makes it easy to say goodbye to summer. It’s one of the reasons I think Autumn is the best of season of all.
Autumn Fruit Crumble (serves 4)
Ingredients - for the filling
450g organic plums, washed, halved, stoned, then each half fruit cut into thirds
1 organic apple, peeled, cored and diced
25ml organic red wine (use fresh, filtered water if you prefer)
organic lemon, juice only - optional (see Notes below)
Ingredients - for the topping
50g organic butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
25g Sukrin Gold
50g organic hazelnuts, roughly chopped
1 tsp organic ground ginger
Place the plums, apple, erythritol, star anise and wine - or water - into a saucepan, give everything a good stir to combine, cover with a lid and set the pan over a medium heat. When the juices in the fruit start to flow (only takes a couple of minutes) turn the heat down to low.
Continue cooking the fruit, stirring from time to time, until the erythritol crystals have dissolved and the fruit has broken down (takes about 15 to 20 minutes). If the fruit is collapsed but there’s a lot of juice remaining, use a draining spoon to scoop out the cooked fruit and boil the remaining juice over a high heat for a couple of minutes until it reduces down to a sticky syrup. Then take the pan off the heat and add the fruit back in to the syrup.
A this point, you’ll need to use your instincts to determine how you think the fruit compote should taste. If it tastes too tart, add a little more sweetener. If you think it lacks plum flavour, a tablespoon or two of lemon juice will enhance its fruitiness. Once you’re happy with the balance of taste, set the compote aside to cool.
As the fruit cools, make the crumble topping. Place the tiger nut flour, butter, Sukrin Gold and ground ginger into a food processor or blender and pulse to a coarse crumble. N.B. Don’t overdo it, you need the mixture to retain some texture. Tip the crumble in to a bowl and stir in the chopped hazelnuts.
When you’re ready to eat your fruit crumble(s), pre-heat the oven to 180℃ / 350℉ / Gas mark 4.
Divide the fruit compote between 4 large glass ramekin dishes - alternatively, transfer all the fruit to a shallow ovenproof dish - and top evenly with the crumble mixture.
Place the ramekins/serving dish on to a baking tray (the mixture may bubble up and spill over) and bake in the oven for approx. 20-25 minutes until the filling is hot and the crumble topping golden.
Allow to stand for a couple of minutes before serving the fruit crumble as it is or with a generous dollop of cream or ice cream.
If you have a glut of fruit or more mouths to feed, simply double the quantities above and/or store the excess fruit compote and crumble separately in air tight containers in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Experiment by adding other fruits and berries to the compote such as blackberries or blueberries.
Other flavours such as vanilla, cinnamon, finely grated orange zest can easily be incorporated into the compote and/or the red wine can be swapped for other liquids such as orange or lemon juice. Just be aware that this will impact the sweetness of the compote so you will need to adjust the erythritol sweetener as required.
Fruit compote makes a great breakfast served with yogurt and toasted flaked almonds.
Fat 22g Protein 4g Carbohydrate 33g - per serving of crumble (without cream or ice cream)