A crumble is a dish of British and Irish origin that can be made in a sweet or savoury version, depending on ingredients used, although the sweet version is much more common. It also can be traced to American cuisine during the European colonisation of the Americas. A sweet variety usually contains stewed fruit topped with a crumbly mixture of fat (usually butter), flour, and sugar. A savoury version uses meat, vegetables and a sauce for the filling, with cheese replacing sugar in the crumble mix. The crumble is baked in an oven until the topping is crisp. The dessert variety is often served with custard, cream or ice cream as a hearty, warm dessert after a meal. The savoury variety can be served along with accompanying vegetable
Popular fruits used in crumbles include apple, blackberry, peach, rhubarb, gooseberry, and plum. Sometimes, a combination of two or more of these fruits may be used in a crumble, for example, rhubarb and apple may be used in the same crumble. The crumble is typically given the name of the dominant fruit in it – for example, a crumble made with apple would get the name of Apple Crumble, while one made with rhubarb would get the name of Rhubarb Crumble. Coconut has also been used to make Coconut Crumble. The topping may also include rolled oats, ground almonds or other nuts, and sometimes sour milk (e.g. vinegar and milk) is added to give the crumble a more extravagant taste. Brown sugar is often sprinkled over the crumble topping, which caramelises slightly when baked. In some recipes the topping is made from broken biscuits (cookies in American English) or even breakfast cereals, but this is not traditional.
Crumbles have only really been made in Britain since World War II. Due to strict rationing the ingredients required to make the bases of pies contained too much of the necessary flour, fat and sugar to make the crumble by adding bread crumbs. So a simple mixture of flour, margarine and sugar was used to make the top of the crumble. The dish was also popular due to its simplicity.