By Emily Ho, TheKitchn.com
3:30 PM EDT, May 9, 2013
Fruit crumble is usually pretty straightforward: combine flour, sugar and butter, and you've got a perfect streusel topping, right? But what happens when you can't eat regular flour, sugar or butter (or nuts)? Suddenly, making a really good fruit crumble might not be so simple after all.
Faced with such a predicament, I started experimenting with gluten-free and vegan ingredients (and eating many, many servings of crumble in the process!) until I finally came up with my new go-to, allergy-friendly crumble recipe.
Traditional fruit crumble or crisp is a loose and forgiving dish. You can make it with just about any fruit from apples to berries to plums, sweeten and spice them to taste, and top them with a rustic crumb. This gluten-, nut-, dairy- and refined-sugar-free version has some wiggle room, too, especially in the fruit filling. The topping, however, is a bit more particular, though not at all complicated.
Developing a good topping was surprisingly tricky and involved more gluten-free flours, vegan fats and alternative sweeteners than I care to remember. Just as I was about to give up, I hit the sweet spot with this topping. It's slightly crunchy, slightly moist, and just rich and sweet enough to feel like a real dessert while allowing the fruit to be the star.
Here's the final formula: nutty sunflower seed flour, oat flour and oats; dates for sweetness; and coconut oil for buttery texture and flavor. As far as I know sunflower seed flour is not available in stores, but it's easy to make at home using a food processor, coffee/spice grinder or blender (I use a Vitamix). Not only has this crumble satisfied my taste buds, but non-allergy-challenged folks have complimented it as well. Win-win.
Allergy-friendly fruit crumble with oats, dates
Makes one 8- by 8-inch, 9- by 9-inch or equivalent sized crumble
Note: You can add chopped strawberries (4 cups) and rhubarb (2 cups), flavored with the zest and juice of a small blood orange, a vanilla bean and a minimum amount of pure date syrup. It makes a luscious spring dessert and breakfast!
6 cups fruit, diced
1-3 tablespoons arrowroot starch or cornstarch, depending on juiciness of fruit
Sweetener of your choice, to taste (optional)
Zest of 1 lemon or orange (optional)
1-3 teaspoons lemon or orange juice, to taste (optional)
1 vanilla bean, scraped, or 1 teaspoon spice such as cinnamon or ginger (optional)
2/3 cup sunflower seed flour (recipe below)
1/3 cup gluten-free oat flour
3/4 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
2/3 cup gluten-free rolled oats
2/3 cup dates, pitted and finely chopped
1/2 cup coconut oil, room temperature
1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
2. Toss the fruit with the arrowroot starch or cornstarch and any optional flavorings. Pour the fruit filling into an 8- by 8-inch, 9- by 9-inch or equivalent sized baking dish.
3. Thoroughly mix together the sunflower seed flour, oat flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon (if using). Stir in the oats and dates, and use your fingers to break up any large date chunks. Add the coconut oil and use your fingers or a fork to work it into the dry ingredients, forming large crumbs. Spread the topping evenly over the fruit.
4. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the fruit juices are bubbling around the edges. At around the 20-minute mark, check that the crumble is not browning too quickly; if necessary, lightly cover the dish with aluminum foil and then remove the foil for a minute or two at the end.
5. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. Coconut whipped cream makes a delicious accompaniment.
Sunflower seed flour:
Grind raw (or soaked and dehydrated) sunflower seeds in a food processor, coffee/spice grinder, or high-performance blender such as a Vitamix. Pulse until the sunflower seeds have a flour-like consistency; avoid over-grinding, or you may end up with sunflower seed butter. Periodically sift the flour through a flour sifter or fine-mesh strainer and repeat until all the seeds are finely ground. Store flour in the refrigerator or freezer. (1 cup of sunflower seeds makes about 1 cup of flour.)
Green specks? Don't be alarmed: In some cases, you may notice tiny green specks in the crumble topping. This is a result of chemical reaction between the sunflower seeds and baking soda, and it's perfectly safe to eat. I noticed it in some batches and not others, probably related to how evenly the baking soda was dispersed.
Emily Ho is a writer for TheKitchn.com, a nationally known blog for people who love food and home cooking. Submit any comments or questions to email@example.com.
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