Blackberry and apple crumble is one of my favourite nostalgic British puddings. This gluten-free and vegan version is every bit as good as the original and perfect for a Sunday lunch at home with friends and family. It is one of the easiest desserts you can make – just throw the ingredients together then let it bubble gently in the oven while you eat the main course. You can even make it in advance. You’ll be rewarded with a delicious plant-based dessert of pure comfort in a bowl.
Why You Will Love This Recipe
There are so many crumble recipes on the internet, why choose this one? Well, I am very particular about my crumble! I don't like it messed around with. I like a traditional crumble with simple ingredients and a soft unctuous texture.
This crumble recipe:
- uses simple ingredients that you likely already have in your gluten-free kitchen;
- is vegan and gluten-free (of course! 😁);
- contains less sugar than many other crumble (or crisp) recipes (and no refined sugar); and
- is authentically true to the traditional British crumble recipe.
This classic dessert is perfect for entertaining as it is easy to make and does not require any last-minute prep before serving. You should definitely try it out - this gluten-free vegan apple and blackberry crumble is delicious comfort food at its best!
Take Me Back to England for the Autumn!
At this time of year I always feel a little bit homesick for England. I love the transition from summer to autumn - watching the leaves changing colour, the kids playing with conkers and swishing their feet through piles of dry leaves as they walk, the weather turning a little bit colder and having the unexpected pleasure of finding dark, juicy blackberries in the bushes as you walk along any country path.
Here in Doha it is still baking hot and there’s no chance of going for a walk and even less chance of finding blackberries in the bushes! At least in my little kitchen, I can re-create the smells and flavours of home by buying a pack of frozen blackberries and making this delicious gluten-free blackberry and apple crumble.
What Is Fruit Crumble?
For those that haven’t tried crumble before, how can I describe it? It’s like a sweet pie with a warm soft fruit filling but, instead of pastry on top, it has this crumbly mixture that has the same sweet buttery flavour as pastry but with a looser texture.
The best crumbles are gooey on the bottom (from soaking up the juices from the fruit underneath), and crispy on the top, and fall into little crumbly chunks when you cut your spoon into it. For that reason, this type of pudding is often known as apple crisp (or fruit crisp) in the US. I think most people prefer it to plain pastry which seems rather boring in comparison. Home cooks almost certainly prefer it because it’s a doddle to make compared to the more pernicious pastry!
- Oats - I am really particular about crumble and, for years, I was a purist and hated oats in a crumble. However, over the last few years I’ve come to like the addition of oats. They really add to the flavour as well as giving a bit more texture to the crumble topping. If you are coeliac, make sure to buy gluten-free oats. Oats do not naturally contain gluten but they may be contaminated by gluten in the field. Farmers often rotate crops meaning that oats may be grown in a field where wheat grew the previous year. This sometimes results in the oats containing a little bit of gluten. Gluten-free oats, however, are grown in wheat-free fields, so they are naturally free from gluten.
- Vegan butter - For authenticity, I have used vegan butter to replace dairy butter. However, I have also made this a number of times with coconut oil which tastes equally delicious! I think it gives a lovely rounded flavour that balances well with the tart apple and blackberry filling.
- Apples - You would normally use cooking apples for any kind of cooked apple pudding in the UK. However, for years now, I have used regular eating apples with no discernible drawbacks except that less sugar is needed to sweeten them up. I think cooking apples were used in the past because of their abundance in British gardens and the inability to use them for anything else because they were so sour. Nowadays, most of us live in smaller houses that don’t have apple stores in the garden sheds so we are less likely to have spare cooking apples hanging around needing to be used. I find using regular eating apples (that I always have in my kitchen), means that I can choose to make apple crumble at the drop of a hat, without needing to go to the shops first! Choose whichever type of apple you like best but you may need to adapt the sugar content slightly if you use a particularly sharp tasting apple (like Granny Smith) or very sweet apples (like Fuji or Pink Lady apples).
- Blackberries - if you are not lucky enough to have fresh blackberries growing in abundance in the countryside around you, just buy a pack of frozen blackberries and they will be just as good! Frozen fruit is actually as nutritious as fresh because they are usually frozen immediately upon picking so they don't have time to degrade and lose their nutrients.
- Sugar - I use dark muscovado sugar because I love the deep caramel flavour of the sugar. I also think that if you must eat sugar (and everyone needs a little sweet treat now and then!), at least make sure it is in its least refined state so that you can get a little goodness in the package too! If you do not have this type of sugar, you could use maple syrup or coconut sugar instead or even regular brown sugar.
Please see the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post for full list of ingredients and their quantities.
This recipe is so simple.
- First, make the crumble mixture by weighing all the crumble ingredients into a bowl and rubbing the vegan butter into the rest of the ingredients so that it goes to one big clump of mixture. (Or you could quickly whizz it in a food processor for a few pulses - or Thermomix for 20 secs / sp. 5). Note, the vegan butter will melt as you are mixing it so you won't be able to get the breadcrumb consistency that you might be used to with non-vegan pastry or crumble. Don't worry. Since this is gluten-free crumble, you don't have the gluten to make the crumble tough, so it doesn't matter and it will taste fantastic!
- Then, make the filling by chopping the apples (I don’t even bother peeling them!) and mixing them in a bowl with the blackberries and seasonings. Once it is mixed, pour the mixture into an oven-proof dish.
- Next, pour the crumble mixture on top of the fruit mixture. Spread the crumble out to the edges in an even layer and sprinkle over some cinnamon and sugar on top. Then bake in the oven at 180°C for 40 minutes until golden.
Please see the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post for full instructions.
Traditionally, this crowd-pleasing dessert is served at Sunday lunch with custard, cream or ice cream. I love this apple crumble with a generous amount of vegan cream poured on top or with a scoop of vegan vanilla ice cream. If I don’t have either of these in the kitchen, I will make a slightly sweetened cashew cream which is only a tiny bit more effort but absolutely delicious!
To make the crumble topping gluten-free, I have used gf oats combined with arrowroot powder and ground almonds. Arrowroot has many purported health benefits and is easily digested. The ground almonds add healthy fats and a rounded flavour. It is a really versatile recipe though so you can chop and change the ingredients for whichever gluten-free flours you like best!
- Oats – If you prefer a smoother, more tender crumble topping, you could use an equal weight of oat flour instead of the rolled oats. This is really easy to make by whizzing in a food processor (1 min. / sp. 10 in the thermomix).
- Flours - If you prefer, feel free to swap the arrowroot for tapioca starch or cornstarch. You could even just swap the arrowroot and ground almonds for an equal weight of a commercial gluten-free flour blend (something like the Dove’s Farm plain gluten-free flour will work well). Crumble (and pastry for that matter!) doesn’t actually need gluten. In fact, when you make it with normal wheat flour you have to be careful not to handle it too much so as not to develop the gluten. So, the gluten-free version is actually easier to make and makes for a better more crumbly crumble!
- Nuts – If you need to make this recipe nut-free, you could substitute the almond meal with more oats and arrowroot. Add the same weight as the almond meal but with 2 parts arrowroot to 3 parts oats. Alternatively, you could use tigernut flour which has a similar consistency and behaves similarly to almond flour. Despite having the word "nut" in the name, tigernut flour is in fact nut-free!
- Fruit - You can of course stick with tradition and use cooking apples instead of regular eating apples. If you do that, you will need to counteract their sour flavour by adding a tablespoon of sugar to the fruit mixture. Also, if you don’t like blackberries, you can leave them out and just substitute with more apple to make it into a gluten-free apple crumble instead! You could also choose different fruits altogether! You could try plums or peaches or even raspberries or cherries! If you want to add a touch of acidity to the fruit filling, you can add a splash of lemon juice or grate some lemon zest or orange zest into the filling mixture at the beginning.
Yes! This gluten-free blackberry and apple crumble is a great pudding to make ahead for a lunch or dinner party. On the day, you can make it up to the point of assembling the crumble and then keep it covered in the fridge for a few hours until you’re ready to pop it into the oven when you are just about to start the meal. Alternatively, you could make each of the filling and crumble mixtures a few days in advance and keep them separate in the fridge and then assemble and bake on the day.
Yes, just substitute the almond meal for more oats and tapioca starch or use tigernut flour which is in fact nut-free! (see the Substitutes section above for further details).
If you are lucky to have leftovers, pop it in the fridge (covered) and re-heat in the oven or the microwave (it will still be utterly delicious but note that the topping will not be crispy if re-heated in the microwave). It will happily keep for a few days in the fridge.
📖 Recipe 📖
Gluten-Free Blackberry & Apple Crumble (Vegan)
- 90 g oats (or oat flour for a smoother texture)
- 50 g almond flour
- 60 g arrowroot powder (or tapioca starch)
- 75 g dark muscovado sugar (or coconut sugar or brown sugar)
- 150 g vegan butter (or coconut oil)
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- 2 regular eating apples 225g, cored and cut into large cubes or crescents
- 200 g fresh or frozen blackberries
- 1 teaspoon dark muscovado sugar (or maple syrup)
- 1 tablespoon water
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°C and grease an oven-proof dish with a little vegan butter or flavourless oil.
- Weigh out the topping ingredients into a bowl and mix together, gently rubbing the dry ingredients into the butter so that it is well mixed. Don’t worry too much if there are a few lumps of butter as it will not affect the crumble overall. (You could also do this step in a thermomix by setting it to 20 secs / sp.5 REVERSE)90 g oats, 50 g almond flour, 60 g arrowroot powder, 75 g dark muscovado sugar, 150 g vegan butter, ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, pinch of salt
- Weigh out the filling ingredients and mix together in a bowl.2 regular eating apples, 200 g fresh or frozen blackberries, 1 teaspoon dark muscovado sugar, 1 tablespoon water
- Pour the filling into the prepared dish and then distribute the crumble mixture over the top. Sprinkle with a little sugar and ground cinnamon.
- Put the dish in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes until the topping is browned and the purple juices from underneath are bubbling up from the sides.
- Leave for a few minutes to cool very slightly before you serve.
- Serve with lashings of cream or ice-cream (vegan).
- This is a very adaptable recipe and you can substitute the fruits or, use a plain gluten-free flour mix in place of the arrowroot and/or the ground almonds. See blogpost for full notes about the recipe and substitutions.
- Do not expect the topping mixture to go into a breadcrumb texture like non-vegan crumble or pastry. The vegan butter or coconut milk both melt too quickly and do not hold together to make the breadcrumb texture. It really doesn't make a difference once it's cooked though since you don't have the gluten from normal wheat flour that is what makes it become tough.
Did you make this recipe? Please leave a ⭐ star rating ⭐ on the recipe card!
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