Strawberry crumble crisp

Strawberry crumble crisp

There was a time when the only crumble I’d consider was made with gooseberries or rhubarb. Any other recipe didn’t promise that winning combination of sweet crumble topping and tart fruit base. But then a couple of desserts crossed my path that set me questioning this crumbly absolute.

First: a California pie shop woo-ed me with a slice of strawberry and rhubarb pie, after which no other pie would get a look in. The sweet strawberries and tart rhubarb melded together, wrapped up in light and flaky pastry, was a game changer for my list of top three favourite desserts.

Then this summer, one of the farm’s visitors shared that they’d made a crumble with strawberries they’d picked that day. After a second of shock, I simply had to give it a go. But I knew that I still needed that tart edge to offset the sweet strawberries and topping.

I sought the counsel of the ever-tempting Smitten Kitchen. In her strawberry rhubarb crumble, she added the zest and juice of a whole lemon to add that kick – even with the rhubarb! So I added lemon and can confirm it gives the desired lift, like a strawberry lemonade with crunchy chaser.

I’m not entirely sure what the difference is between a crumble and a crisp, and I was all set to file the debate under American vs British English. But the one difference I spotted is that a crumble starts with rubbing cold butter into the flour, whereas a crisp pours melted butter over all the dry ingredients.

I also added a smidgen of baking powder to bulk up the topping, per Smitten Kitchen and Nigella’s guidance. A fellow ‘topping junkie’, I usually increase crumble topping by half again, to create that crumble grandeur. But adding the baking powder and a handful of oats made the topping just hearty enough to round off this summer delight.



  • 150g flour
  • 50g rolled oats
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 100g brown sugar
  • zest of one lemon
  • 150g unsalted butter, melted

Fruit filling

  • 1kg strawberries, hulled, quartered
  • juice of one lemon
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch (optional)
  • pinch of salt

Serve with ice-cream, creme fraiche (pictured above), or greek yoghurt.


  1. Heat oven to 190°C.
  2. Prepare topping in a mixing bowl, by combining flour, baking powder, sugar, and lemon zest. Add the melted butter, and mix until small and large clumps form. Refrigerate until needed.
  3. Prepare filling: gentle mix the strawberries, lemon juice, sugar, salt, and cornstarch (if using), in a 20cm pie dish.
  4. Sprinkle topping over the fruit so it covers all the fruit.
  5. Bake until crumble topping is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling hot, about 35-40 minutes.
  6. Let sit for about 5 minutes before serving, to let the fruit settle.

Preparing strawberry crumble crisp

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