Kitsch Kitchen: Plum and Cherry Crumble

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I was going to call this my Little Black Dress Dessert. You know – the fail-safe, the go-to, the one that can always be relied on to come up trumps.

But really, it’s my Pyjama Bottom Pudding. You see, pretty much all of my LBDs are super-structured and, erm, snug – one of them I actually have to lie down on the floor to get into. This, on the other hand, is a cuddly, comforting, stretchy waistband of a dish, exactly what you want at the end of a long day, and it requires almost zero effort – you can be tucking in within 45 minutes of walking through the door.

Plus, let’s be honest here, a crumble has many virtues, but elegance isn’t one of them.

I’ve always thought crumbles had a Dickensian sort of vibe, but it turns out that they were actually dreamed up during the Second World War. Rationing made the baking of buttery, sugary pies practically impossible, so cooks started casting about for a thrifty alternative. Crumbles were the result, and they have the distinction of being among the few wartime recipes not consigned to the dustbin of culinary history.

I chose plums for this one because they’re in season at the moment, and cherries because I had some tinned ones left over from my Black Forest muffins. But the beauty of a crumble is that you can chuck in whatever you fancy.

(Except sausages. I made sausage crumble once when I was a student, and it wasn’t pretty.)

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Plum and cherry crumble

Serves two (in theory)

A punnet of plums, stoned and quartered
Half a tin of black cherries (or fresh ones, if you can find them)
1 tablespoon caster sugar
Half a teaspoon cinnamon
Half a teaspoon lemon juice
50g butter, softened
90g flour
50g demerara sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Tip the plums, cherries and lemon juice into a medium-sized saucepan, and sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon on top. Simmer over a low heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has a compote-like consistency.
3. While the fruit is cooking down, make the topping by rubbing the butter into the flour and sugar in a large mixing bowl. It should look – well, crumbly.
4. Spoon the fruit mixture into a 6in wide (or thereabouts) dish, cover generously with the topping and bake for approximately 30 minutes in the oven. You want the top of your crumble to be golden brown and the fruit just starting to bubble over the sides. Serve warm with ice cream, and eat on the sofa in front of something really naff.

Next time: coconut chocolate truffles

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