Balsamic Strawberry & Almond Crumble

Your will power for pudding is about to crumble!

I've been making crumbles since FOREVER. They're a total life hack. Fruity crumbles can use incredibly cheap ingredients, yet the small amount of preparation involved is still enough to give you that buzz of making something tasty from scratch, and therefore feel quite proud of yourself! I rarely make crumbles with fresh fruit - I actually use frozen or canned fruit most of the time. I'm not ashamed of that in the slightest.

Frozen/canned fruit have suffered from such a bad rep' lately. In a world where unprocessed eating is making a comeback, it's very easy to assume the dusty tins and frosty punnets should be given a miss. Although canned or frozen fruit may not physically feel the same, all the nutrition is still there. Most frozen and canned fruits are packaged as soon as they're picked, meaning they're instantly shielded from the destructive effects of light, air and temperature - unlike fresh fruit. Plus, they're so much cheaper and will really last you, so don't cast them aside!

Desperate pleading aside, on this occasion I'm actually using fresh fruit - strawberries! Now, strawberries are usually pretty underwhelming, sadly. Pound-for-pound, they don't yield much natural flavour and you need an awful lot of them to afford them any presence. If you pair strawberries with anything sharp like lemon or raspberries, the strawberries are effectively silenced - it's actually pathetic. However, there's one treatment for strawberries that makes their flavour erupt like a phoenix from the ashes. Pairing strawberries with balsamic vinegar will make strawberries burst, almost flamboyantly, into life and gives you a fabulously bold flavour, rather like Strawberry Ribena!

This particular crumble is a fantastic way to make something dazzling out of any strawberries you may have hanging around. What's more, when they're topped with this light, buttery almond rubble, it summons the sunshine. It's a summertime star that completely blows away the wintery, comfort-eating stigma of your Gran's plain, old apple crumble!

What You'll Need:
For 4 delicious servings of summer comfort.
500g/2 Small Punnet of Fresh Strawberries
2 tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar
2 tablespoons of White Sugar
100g Plain Flour
90g Butter
50g Ground Almonds
50g Flaked Almonds
75g White Sugar

1. First of all, heat an oven to 200C/390F. While the oven gets underway, let's take on the fruit.

Remove the leafy tops from your strawberries, and chop your scalped strawberries into heart-shaped halves. Place these into a fairly deep, oven-safe dish.

I'm making a personal-size crumble here, just for me, so don't be alarmed if my measures are smaller than yours!

2. Scatter over your 2 tablespoons of sugar and mix around until your strawberries are sugar-coated and slushy.

3. Spoon over your balsamic vinegar and mix until everything is evenly soaked. You'll notice your strawberries instantly pop through the dark stain of the vinegar - blood red almost!

Place your dish of menacing strawberries aside to soak while we tackle the next task: the almond crumble topping!

4. A crumble topping is the only bit of dirty work really - and it's not even that dirty. There are no floury countertops, no dough-packed nails, just lightly buttered fingertips. Nothing too daunting right?

Anyways, measure out your 100g of flour...

...tip in your white sugar...

...and tip in your ground almonds. Mix these all together well.

5. Add your butter to your dry mixture. It's best if the butter is fridge cold and cut into little pieces; it makes the job so much quicker.

Rub the butter into the dry ingredients using your fingertips, making sure everything is butter-slicked and dreamy.

6. Once everything is buttery, scatter over most of your flaked almonds and roughly mix them through the crumble. Keep a handful back. They'll be handy to shower over the top of your crumble before it gets the oven treatment!

7. Retrieve your dish of strawberries. They'll be nicely soaked by now.

Crumble over your almondy rubble, making sure to keep the centre well-covered. You can press your topping down a little if you prefer more a dense crust. Alternately, if you like a loose and nubbly crumble, simply let the pieces sit as they've fallen.

8. Place your crumble on the middle shelf of your oven, and bake for 25-35 minutes until gold and toasty.

9. Rescue your crumble from the oven and allow it to calm down for 10 minutes. Don't worry if the thick, fruity syrup has bubbled over a little. It adds to the charm I reckon!

You can enjoy it with custard, but I think a dollop of thick, Greek yoghurt is best-appointed for this summery treat!


Anthony :)



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