Crumbles, cobblers, and crisps are popular for a reason. They are an insanely easy way to showcase the beauty of fresh fruit and they take less time and work than a pie. You can also really experiment with your ingredients and come up with amazing fruit combinations.
One of my all-time favorites is this plum and mango crumble. The plum and mango flavors work really well together. It’s beautiful to look at it. And the extra touch of some sweetened coconut in the crumble topping gives this American classic a tropical twist.
The ease of making a crumble actually says a lot about its origins. It’s generally thought that this sort of dessert was created in the British American colonies, because the cooking equipment and ingredients to make more traditional English pies and puddings was not available.
Although born out of necessity, the crumble, the cobbler, the crisp, and the other variations of this dessert have become beloved staples. Known as le crumble, you can find them all over France as well. Their ease of preparation contributes to their popularity in that any home cook can turn out a fabulous crumble. This is also the sort of thing that’s extremely popular in smaller restaurants – as there’s no need to hire a pastry chef to turn these out.
And they satisfy. They are fruity, seasonal, and nostalgic. There’s always that moment when I’m having a good crumble that I think back to something my mother made for me when I was a kid.
Finally, for those of you out there who are curious about the differences between a crumble, a crisp, and a cobbler – I’m no authority but I’ll give it a go as I understand it. A cobbler has a biscuit-like or pie crust topping, depending the part of the country you’re in. A crumble has a streusel-like topping with oats. And a crisp usually has nuts of some sort in the topping, along with oats.
- 2.5 lbs (1.13 kg) plums, of the black or red variety
- 3 ripe mangos
- 1.75 cups (224 g) flour, divided use
- 1.5 cups (301 g) sugar, divided use
- 1 cup (85 g) rolled oats
- 8 oz. (2 sticks or 227 g) butter, cold
- ½ cup (50 g) sweetened shredded coconut
- Preheat your oven to 375 (190 C).
- Cut the plums in half, remove the pits, and slice them into wedges about 1-inch (2.5 cm) wide.
- Cut the mango cheeks away from the central pit, then slice the mango halves into cubes of about 1-inch (2.5 cm) without cutting through the skin. Flip the mango halves inside-out and cut the cubes of mango flesh from the skin.
- In a large bowl, combine the plums and mangos with ¼ cup (32 g) flour and ¾ cup (150 g) of sugar.
- In a large bowl or the work bowl of a food processor, combine the other ¾ cup (150 g) of sugar with the remaining 1.5 cups (192 g) of flour and a pinch of salt.
- Cut the cold butter into cubes (1/2-inch to an inch or so, 1.5 to 2.5 cm). Add it to the flour/sugar mixture and either pulse it in the food processor or cut it into the flour/sugar mixture with a pastry cutter or your hands until you have something that resembles coarse bread crumbs.
- Stir in the oats and coconut.
- Put the fruit filling into a baking dish. A 9×13 size works nicely, but you can use anything similarly-sized that has at least a 2-quart (1.5 L) capacity.
- With your hands, press the topping into large clumps and scatter them over the fruit filling.
- Place the baking dish onto a baking sheet lined with silicone or parchment paper, to protect your oven from the potential that your filling may bubble over the sides when baking. This is probably the most important step of the entire recipe.
- Bake for about 1 hour, or until the filling is bubbling and the topping is golden and crisp.
- Serve warm (not hot) or at room temperature, with or without ice cream or whipped cream.