Updated: Jun 16, 2020
Crumble, custard, cake - who knew so many excellent words began with C? Cheese, coffee, Christmas, chocolate... wow - I could go on! Anyway, back to the cake.
I bet there's not a single person in England who hasn't had a fruit crumble for dessert at some point. It's a grandma classic!
And can we just talk about custard for a minute? Sometimes it's thick and jelly like, topped with whipped cream and flaked almonds in a trifle, sometimes it's sticky and gloopy and tooth-achingly sweet - sickly almost - with an even gloopier and stickier steamed pudding, sometimes it's pale and delicately flecked with vanilla, and sometimes it's fluorescent pink and barely custard at all, but nonetheless it's delicious.
Sadly, homemade custard is a bit of a pain to make. Unless I'm making a really special pudding, I usually grab a pot of the ready made stuff but since there's only two of us in our house, we rarely get through a full tub before it goes past its best. So I make a cake.
150g butter/ margarine
150g caster sugar
100g ground almonds
150g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
left over crumble topping (see method)
a handful of chopped plums/ apples/ pears
about 150g tinned/ carton of custard
crushed hazelnuts or flaked almonds
tsp cinnamon / ginger/ cardamon
Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 (180c). Line the bottom of your cake tin with baking paper and grease the sides.
If you haven't got any leftover crumble topping, start by making that. You will need about 30g chilled, cubed butter, 30g caster sugar and 40g of plain flour. I usually add in about 20g of ground nuts or porridge oats as well as a little cinnamon. Rub the butter into flour until it resembles breadcrumbs and then stir through the sugar and spices and set aside.
I have the most success using an electric hand whisk when making a cake. I find that you have a bit more control over the mixture than when using a stand mixer and you're less likely to get a curdled mix.
Put the butter and sugar into the bowl and whisk it until it's all light and fluffy. Crack the eggs into a jug and whisk them with a fork before you drizzle in the eggs, whisking the mix continuously with the electric whisk.
Pour in the flour, baking powder, almonds, vanilla and any spices that you're using. Use a spatula to fold the dry ingredients into the wet. You will end up with quite a thick looking batter, but don't worry because the custard will help to soften it.
Add three generous spoonfuls of your leftover custard and lightly incorporate it into the mixture before spooning about 2/3 of it into the cake tin.
Create a few little wells in the mixture and spoon in the rest of the custard and a few spoonfuls of jam. Top with the rest of the cake batter.
Push your sliced fruit into the top of the cake and then top it with the crumble.
Bake for 45 minutes without opening the oven. It will probably need another 10-15 minutes on top of this but it's best to keep an eye on it after it's had the first 45 minutes as things can change quickly. When it's done it'll be springy and the cake skewer will come out clean.
Turn out the cake onto a rack and allow it to cool. Serve with a large cup of tea!