Half Scottish, Half Japanese. Tempura Mars bar?

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I began writing this blog in October 2010 as a new father documenting food in his family. Before I knew it, I was in the final of MasterChef 2012. Now cooking is no longer just a hobby.

Thursday, 21 October 2010


Macerating the strawberries and rhubarb

With the remaining over-ripe bananas, I made a banana, honey and walnut loaf. It was okay, but I preferred the Banana and Chocolate loaf below and in any case you can find versions of both recipes elsewhere on the internet.

This dessert recipe, on the other hand, is one that I claim as my own. I couldn't find any recipe resembling it on the internet, nor had anyone come up with the name. A "strumble" is a cross between strudel and crumble.

Strudel consists of filo pastry layers with a sweet or savoury filling, most commonly apple, cinnamon and raisins. It is popular in Austria but filo goes back to the Byzantine Empire and is found in Middle Eastern pastries such as baklava.

Crumble is endeared by many Britons. It is a hearty and warming pudding to end a pub lunch, after a long walk in November or December, as autumn hands over to winter. Crumble exemplifies necessity as the mother of invention. During the war, when rationing meant that shortcrust pastry was out of the question, people improvised by rubbing a little margarine through flour and sugar to make a crumble topping. Unfortunately, I'm sure many of you will have had a stodgy crumble, probably at school, where the water in the fruit has mixed with the flour.

The inspiration for strumble came from a cooking lesson, where I learnt to cook the fruit and crumble separately. You pan fry the fruit and toast the crumble in the oven and only combine the two on the plate, moments before serving. The advantage is that it will never be stodgy: the fruit remains 'al dente' and the crumble remains light and crunchy. The smell of the flour and sugar gently caramelising will remind your guests of digestive biscuits.

The strudel bit takes a bit of preparation. Take 3 sheets of filo pastry and glue them together with a pastry brush and some melted butter. Cut the sheets into discs that are about the size of your palm. If you don't have a pastry cutter, use a knife to make squares. Take one of the discs and put a mixture of chopped or powdered nuts in the middle (such as almonds, hazelnuts, pistachio or walnuts). Brush the outside of the disc with butter and sandwich the filling with another filo disc. Make the sandwiches into little baskets using a cupped hand, or even better, a muffin tray. Bake in the oven for 5-10 minutes until they are crispy and golden brown. Don't worry if the layers come apart - it will keep the dessert light. Set  the baskets or discs aside and warm them later when you toast the crumble.

In a pan, melt some butter and sugar until it begins to caramelise. Add some chopped fruit. My favourite combination is apples and strawberries but remember that the apples will need a little longer than the strawberries. If you like to add some drama to your dinner parties, throw in some kirsch at the end and flambĂ© the fruit just before serving. Spoon the fruit into the strudel baskets, and sprinkle the toasted crumble on top.

Normally, I would advocate serving crumble with a scoop of good vanilla ice cream because I like the combination of hot and cold. But in this case, I think a dollop of thick double cream, or clotted cream, works best.


  1. Did you know that crumble is HUGE in France? Bizarre, as the French say. Maybe you should hit them with your strumble

  2. Either your hungry, breastfeeding wife is very lucky or you have a seriously advanced baby to be enjoying scrumble already.

    I'm looking forward to when hector reachs 6 months and he gets to rate your creations - won't be quite as neat as ticking a box!!

  3. @rcollins
    I should have credited the cookery school that taught me to make the crumble lighter. It was French - Le Manoir Aux Quat' Saisons. You've had my strumble, haven't you?

    I'm looking forward to uploading some photos of the mucky pup! There's a lovely photo of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's baby trying beetroot in his River Cottage book.