Silky, tart-sweet rhubarb with perfumed strawberries and bright, juicy apple nestling under a crisp, buttery topping studded with hazelnuts.
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I love fruit crumbles. There’s something quietly appealing about dicing a pile of whatever fruit happens to be in season, then piling it into a dish and scattering with a generous pile of butter and sugar-rubbed flour. A short turn in a hot steam oven collapses the fruit into a puddly, syrupy mess and turns the topping a gentle golden colour with the texture of a crunchy-outside soft-inside oatmeal cookie. It’s perfect comfort food, and if you happen to have a jug of custard or a few scoops of ice cream, all the better.
Why bake fruit crumble in a combi steam oven?
There’s nothing bad at all about baking crumble in a regular oven, but since I’ve owned a combi steam oven I’ve always cooked mine in there. It means I don’t have to cook the fruit first, and that I don’t need to add any liquid to it either. The bright, clean flavours of the fruit cook in nothing but their own juices and retain far more flavour.
Variations on the classic fruit crumble
Classically made just with apples, crumbles welcome many different fruits.
This wintery version has apple for body and texture, just enough strawberries to lend their heady perfume and lots of tart rhubarb to cut through the sweet fruit and add brightness. In Summer I’ll happily use peaches, nectarines and berries, and Autumn brings maybe my favourite fruit for cooking, plums.
If you’re using very tart fruit you might prefer a little more sugar than I’ve listed below, though I like the contrast between the barely-sweetened fruit, the sweet biscuit-like topping and a creamy vanilla custard.
Happy steam oven cooking, see you here again soon.
Recipe: Combi Steam Apple, Rhubarb and Strawberry Crumble
Makes 8 individual crumbles or one large one.
I have made this twice recently. Once in a large ceramic dish and again in individual enamel pie tins as pictured (though you could use ramekins, tea cups, whatever you like as long as the dishes are ovenproof). It cooks beautifully either way. I’ve given timing for the individual crumbles, but if you want to bake a large one give it around 30 minutes in the oven.
If you’re a crumble purist, look away, because I cannot help playing around with my topping ingredients. I like using wholegrain flour for extra fibre and sandy texture, almond meal and oats for interest and nuts because, well, they just taste great in there. I’ve specified hazelnuts here but pecans and walnuts are good too. If wholegrain flour isn’t your thing, skip it and replace with straight up all-purpose/plain flour; same with the almond meal.
You can make these and keep them completely assembled, covered, in the fridge for up to 24 hours before baking.
1 bunch rhubarb (about 600g/1.3lb), trimmed, cut into 2.5cm/1” pieces
1 punnet strawberries (250g/½lb), hulled and halved
2 medium cooking apples, peeled, cored and diced into 1.5cm/5/8” pieces
55g (1/4 cup) caster sugar
150g unsalted butter, softened
150g (1 cup) wholegrain flour
50g (1/2 cup) almond meal
50g (1/2 cup) rolled oats
100g (1/2 cup) brown sugar
¼ tsp salt
1tsp mixed spice
50g (1/2 cup) roughly chopped hazelnuts
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F, combination steam setting. If your oven has variable humidity, use 60%.
2. Mix the fruit and caster sugar together in a bowl, then divide between 8 dishes.
3. Make the crumble. Cube the butter and put it into a bowl with the flour, almond meal, oats, sugar, salt and spice. Rub the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles damp sand. Gently mix the nuts through, then pile the crumble over the fruit. Don’t press down, you want it to be quite loose and uneven.
4. Bake the crumbles until the topping is golden and the fruit is collapsed and syrupy, about 15 minutes. Serve hot with custard, ice cream or double cream.
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And if you’re after more delicious combi steam baking recipes, the Cakes and Baking Index page has plenty. Try the Plum Tart if you're in the Northern Hemisphere and need to use up a glut of fruit. Or if you're in the mood for total decadence in a hurry, the 12 Minute Steam Oven Brownies are fabulous.