Perfectly Autumn easy Apple and Blackberry Crumble. It’s tart, yet sweet and generously topped with the lightest, buttery, gluten free crumble. (Optional dairy free and vegan)
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Introducing the best gluten free Apple and Blackberry Crumble I’ve ever made
You may think I’m slightly bonkers if I rave about a simple Apple and Blackberry Crumble. But I’m going to do it anyway. Because when I made this very dessert, I was blown away by the depth of flavour and lightest, crumbliest crumble topping. Although I’ve been making Apple and Blackberry Crumble for decades, this one was (without a doubt), the best I’ve ever made.
Why? Because with a couple of accidental and experimental twists along the way, this crumble was suddenly elevated to new levels. And eating it brought such a big smile to my face that I felt it was only right to share.
Read on to find out what makes this particular gluten free Apple and Blackberry Crumble so special. And for all the tips on how to make it in your kitchen too.
Ingredients in my gluten free crumble topping
My crumble topping is tried and tested in the Gluten Free Alchemist kitchen. It’s the same one I use for all my crumbles, including my Rhubarb and Blueberry Crumble (already on the blog). Here’s the what and why of the ingredients…
Gluten Free Flour Blend
I use my home-mixed, white flour blend A(which is found at the bottom of my Gluten Free Flours Page) combined with some gluten free oat flour. The oat flour gives extra depth of flavour as well as a slightly softer and ‘creamier’ texture to the crumble top. However, it’s fine to use a commercial gluten free flour blend (such as Doves Freee plain white baking flour) in place of my home-blend. And if you are intolerant to oats, then simply substitute them for more of the main flour blend, weight for weight.
Adding xanthan gum to the crumble mix is completely optional. So if you are unable to tolerate it, just leave it out.
For the rest of us, it’s there for a reason… What it does is provide a little extra ‘body’ to the topping… allowing the crumble mixture to ‘clump’ a little more, for a varied texture in both appearance and eating. It’s only a small amount, but it makes a difference.
If using a commercial flour blend that already contains xanthan gum, do NOT add any more.
Again, baking powder may not be considered a ‘standard’ ingredient for crumble. But like so many ‘clever’ ingredients, the lightness it brings takes the texture to a better level.
If using a commercial flour blend, you can alternatively use self-raising flour and leave the baking powder out.
It’s super-important when making crumble topping to use ‘block’ butter. This is because the butter is rubbed (or cut) into the flour. ‘Spreadable’ fats will NOT work.
The crumble topping needs a little sugar, both for texture and sweetness (which offset’s the natural ‘tartness’ of the Apple and Blackberry base). However, the amount used is balanced, so the wonderful fruitiness of the base still shines.
While it’s fine to use bog-standard white caster sugar (if that’s what you have available), for a super-special crumble, use a combination of golden caster and light soft brown sugars. This combination provides a caramel sweetness which tastes less ‘harshly’ sweet.
When it comes to baking, I always sprinkle a little Demerara sugar on the top for the crunch it provides. But again, this is optional.
The Apple and Blackberry Crumble Filling
When I made this particular Apple and Blackberry Crumble, there were a couple of things that happened which led to some accidental changes in ingredients and process… Firstly, the dish I used was too big for the fruit I’d mixed and I had run out of blackberries that were defrosted and ready to go. And secondly, my daughter insisted I make the crumble when she would be around to eat it hot (which I only discovered after combining the fruit). Why am I telling you this? Because in the absence of extra blackberries, I threw some blueberries into the mix at the last minute. And the delay in making the crumble meant that the apples and blackberries were left steeping with the sugar, cinnamon and a little liqueur for an extra 18 hours.
Both these factors resulted in flavours and colours which were sublime and quite unexpected. So here’s what I used…
The fruit in my Apple and Blackberry Crumble
- Apples – A combination of both cooking (eg Bramley) and tart eating apples for balanced sharpness and appley flavour.
- Blackberries – These can be fresh or frozen. And either wild/foraged or cultivated/bought from the grocer.
- Blueberries – Oh my! Don’t leave these out. Even just a handful bring a levelling, natural sweetness to the fruit filling and an incredible burst of additional colour and flavour.
Liqueur or vanilla extract
While both of these are optional, one or the other add flavour and a little decadence to the bake. I had intended to add a drop of apple brandy (Calvados) to steep the fruit with the sugar and spice, but didn’t have any. So I used Cointreau instead. The hint of orange was sublime!
If you’re worried about the kids… the alcohol burns off when baking, so there’s no risk to them. Either way, it’s fine to leave out the liqueur and use a drop of vanilla extract instead.
Corn starch (UK corn flour)
Adding a little corn starch to the fruit filling ensures that any juices thicken into a delicious sauce under the crumble while it’s cooking.
White or golden caster sugar – just a little to sweeten the base. You can reduce or increase the amount of sugar added to fit your palate. But given the tartness of the particular apples used and the blackberries, a little sugar takes off the ‘edge’.
Nothing feels more Autumnal than apples laced with ground cinnamon. So it seems only right to pair a little of this most perfect of spices in my Apple and Blackberry Crumble.
Other tips for making the BEST gluten free Apple and Blackberry Crumble
Make it Coeliac-safe
If making Apple and Blackberry Crumble that is safe for people with Coeliac Disease (Celiac), be sure ALL the ingredients used are gluten free, with NO risk of hidden gluten. Read the labels of ingredients used to check for ‘may contain’ warnings… And be careful in the kitchen to avoid any risk of cross-contamination.
Making it Dairy Free and vegan
To make a dairy free and vegan Apple and Blackberry Crumble, the only change you need to make is to switch the butter for a nice, creamy, dairy free block alternative. In the UK, either Stork Baking Block or Flora Baking Block are good to use.
For Apple and Blackberry Crumble, Steep the fruit
In a large bowl, steep the prepared fruit with the liqueur/vanilla, sugar, corn starch and spice, for a minimum of 2 and preferably for 12 to 24 hours. I can’t stress enough what a difference this made to the final crumble flavour and intense colour. And it gives the perfect reason for ‘getting ahead’ by mixing the fruit in advance.
At least for the initial couple of hours, fold the mix intermittently in the bowl to encourage the flavours to mingle as the sugar dissolves.
Invest in a pastry blender/cutter
Crumble requires ‘rubbing the fat into the flour’ until it resembles coarse sand. It’s a sticky, messy process at the best of times. But if the weather is hot, or you’re prone to warm hands, it can result in a stodgy mess.
My advice? Chill the bowl in advance… Make sure all the ingredients are super-cold and the butter is very firm… Wash hands in very cold water before beginning… OR Invest in a Pastry Blender/Cutter! It’s an inexpensive, simple gadget which seriously revolutionises the process of ‘rubbing in’. It’s clean on the hands (no touching involved); the ingredients stay cooler; and it’s quick and effective. It makes the biggest difference for making super-light crumbles, pastry, scones, etc!
Chill the crumble topping
Once the crumble topping has been prepared (and before sprinkling on the fruit), store it in the fridge. Indeed, even if making the crumble imminently, I still advise the topping is chilled for an hour or so. This will ensure the fat remains firm in the mix, which in turn ensures it melts and cooks to the best texture and crunch on the dessert.
Add the blueberries later (if using)
I’ve talked above about the discovery of adding a few blueberries to my Apple and Blackberry Crumble. And while in reality, it may make little difference, it’s important to note that I added them AFTER the rest of the filling mixture had steeped. While this was ‘accidental’ on account of needing to add extra fruit to fill the dish, it may have been instrumental in keeping the blueberries whole and firm before they hit the oven. On that basis, I recommend you do the same.
Top the crumble at the last minute
WAIT until the last minute before topping the fruit with the chilled crumble. I know it’s tempting to fully prepare the uncooked crumble ready in advance. But if you add the topping too early, it will simply soak up the moisture from the fruit and turn into sweet heavy stodge.
Instead… Pre-heat the oven and JUST BEFORE baking, spoon the crumble on top of the fruit, sprinkle a little sugar for crunch and transfer to the oven straight away! This ensures it bakes deliciously light and crumbly.
How to serve Apple and Blackberry Crumble
Bear in mind that when the crumble first comes out of the oven, it’s bubbling hot… Be sure to let it cool for a short while before serving, to avoid a burnt mouth.
Like any crumble, it’s best served warm, with a cooling, silky dollop of vanilla custard, a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a little cream (double, whipped, single or clotted).
How to store left-over crumble
If there are any crumble leftovers, allow them to cool to room temperature, then cover and store in the fridge. They should stay good for 2 to 3 days.
Leftovers can be eaten cold (I confess cold crumble is one of my all-time favourite fridge raids). Or warm them for a few seconds in the microwave.
Ready to make Apple and Blackberry Crumble?
That’s hopefully all you need to know. I hope you love my gluten free Apple and Blackberry Crumble as much as I do. If you make it, let me know what you think. You can leave a comment at the bottom or message me via social media (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter). It’s always lovely to hear from you guys.
Of course, if you’re new to the blog, I also recommend checking out our amazing Gluten Free Recipe Index too… We have hundreds of recipes waiting to inspire you on your gluten free cooking and baking journey.
All shared with my love for free
Apple & Blackberry Crumble (gluten free)
- pastry blender optional
- sharp vegetable knife
- oven proof serving dish(es)
Gluten Free Crumble Top
- 200 g white gluten free plain flour blend eg. Gluten Free Alchemist Blend A – See NOTES (or alternative)
- 100 g oat flour if you are intolerant to oats, use additional white gluten free flour blend
- ¼ tsp xanthan gum (optional, but helps texture)
- 2 tsp baking powder gluten free
- pinch fine sea salt
- 150 g unsalted block butter (or dairy free block alternative) – cold and cubed
- 100 g golden caster sugar
- 50 g soft light brown sugar
- 2 tbsp Demerara sugar to sprinkle (for crunch)
Apple & Bleckberry Filling
- 300 g tart eating apples (eg Cox variety) – approx weight (about 3 medium apples) – peeled, cored and sliced
- 360 g cooking apples (eg Bramley variety) – approx weight (about 2 large apples) – peeled, cored and sliced
- 280 g blackberries (fresh or frozen)
- 2 tbsp Cointreau, Calvados or Brandy (optional) OR 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 80 g caster sugar (white or golden)
- 2 tsp corn starch UK cornflour
- 1½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 100 g blueberries (fresh or frozen) OR increase the blackberry weight by the same amount
Greasing the oven-proof dish
- a little butter/dairy free spread
Gluten Free Crumble Top
- In a large bowl, weigh and mix together the flours, xanthan gum (if using), baking powder and salt.
- Add the cold, cubed butter and (using finger tips or a pastry blender) rub/cut into the flour mix until it resembles coarse sand.
- Add and fold through the golden caster and light brown sugars.
- Set aside in the fridge until ready to use (and preferably for a minimum of an hour).
Apple and Blackberry Filling
- Peel, core and slice the apples and place in a large bowl with the blackberries.
- Add the liqueur or vanilla, sugar, corn starch (UK corn flour) and cinnamon and fold well to coat the fruit.
- If possible, set the fruit aside for at least an hour (or even 12 to 24 hours in the fridge) for the flavours to develop and colour to mingle.
- Prepare the oven-proof serving dishe(s) by greasing the inside with a little butter.
- When ready to make the crumble, add the blueberries (if using), give the fruit a final stir and then transfer to the baking/serving dish, packing it down with the back of a spoon.
Topping and baking the crumble
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
- JUST BEFORE BAKING, top the fruit base with the chilled crumble mixture (it should be generously topped and completely covered).
- Sprinkle with Demerara sugar for extra crunch.
- Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes until the top is golden and the fruit is bubbling.
- Leave to cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving warm with a side of custard, cream or ice cream.
© 2019-2023 Kate Dowse All Rights Reserved – Do not copy or re-publish this recipe or any part of this recipe on any other blog, on social media or in a publication without the express permission of Gluten Free Alchemist
Apple and Blackberry Crumble shared with
- Fiesta Friday with Angie
- Full Plate Thursday with Miz Helen’s Country Cottage
- What’s for Dinner with The Lazy Gastronome