Summer crumble comfort

Some may call us brave, others foolish, but we have just been away on holiday for two weeks, leaving our teens at home to fend for themselves. It’s not the first time we’ve done it, but certainly the longest. And with great relief, they managed just fine – the house was still standing, no difficult to explain holes in the wall or dangling radiators (it’s happened before!) and pretty tidy too – how wonderful!

The only thing that needed immediate attention turned out to be the freezer – the door had been left open a bit so it was over-iced and a couple of things had started to defrost. No big problem that’s for sure, especially when those two items were a container of cakes and a bag of rhubarb – they just needed to be eaten :).

The biggest issue about being home turned out to be the weather! Not that it had been perfect in the Alps, but I had got used to a large amount of very hot sun, and now suddenly it was grey, dull and definitely wet, enough to put the damper on anyone’s holiday spirits. Comfort food was needed and that bag of rhubarb was begging to be made into a crumble. As it is still summer, no matter what the view out the window may say, I wanted to add a suitable seasonal element and the tub of gorgeously sweet strawberries I’d picked up hit the spot. Some may say that rhubarb and strawberry are an odd combination for a crumble, but they go together perfectly as the sweetness of the glorious strawberries means you need less sugar to soften the tart rhubarb, just as long as the strawberries are properly grown and flavoursome. I wouldn’t make this with insipid out-of-season watery berries that’s for sure.

Crumble is a fantastic dessert – easy to make and (nearly) everyone enjoys it. Traditionally though, it’s not the best for those who need to eat dairy or gluten free, or for anyone looking to lose weight due to the large added sugar content. Fortunately, it’s easy to give it a make over! I use a mixture of (gluten free if necessary) oats and gluten free flour for the topping with a smidge of coconut sugar to help with the crunch. Cinnamon aids with sugar absorption and so a teaspoon added into the topping not only benefits the body, but tastes amazing too.

Both rhubarb and strawberry are fabulous nutrition wise, packed full of anti-oxidants, phytonutrients and various vitamins. Strawberries are an amazing source of vitamin C in particular.

Of course, crumble is an all year dessert, just use whatever fruit that happens to be in season – apple is still a traditional favourite! Although pear and raspberry is close behind. Alternatively, if fresh is not possible then look for bags of frozen fruit and use one of those – it’s a fabulous way of getting a berry hit in the middle of winter!

So why not give this a go – everyone will agree on the flavour, the only debate will be custard, ice cream or cream to top it (dairy free of course!).

Rhubarb and strawberry crumble

4-5 stalks of rhubarb
150g strawberries
1 tablespoon coconut sugar
2 tablespoons water
85g oats (gluten free if needed)
70g plain flour (wholemeal/gluten free)
2 heaped tablespoons dairy-free spread  or 2 tablespoons of nut butter of choice (eg: almond, cashew nut)
1 tablespoon coconut sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC. Chop the rhubarb into chunks, slice the strawberries in half (if big) and place in a medium sized oven-proof dish with the coconut sugar and water. Ensure everything is mixed well together.
Mix the oats, flour, coconut sugar and cinnamon together, add the dairy free spread or nut butter and rub in using your finger tips until it’s blended in and small chunks stick together (you can do this in a food processor if you don’t want crumble mix up your nails!). Sprinkle over the top of the prepared fruit and pop in the oven for 20 minutes or so until the fruit bubbles up a bit and the top is lightly browned and firm.
Leave to rest for a few minutes then serve with whichever accompaniment you choose. Enjoy!

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