Rebekah chose rhubarb crumble with custard as the pudding of her final meal before being cast off to the desert island. What's not to love about rhubarb crumble? Or crumble in general for that matter.

Have you ever had a bad crumble, or one you didn't enjoy? I would guess not. Now I know that's a big call, but even the slightly dry, sawdusty crumbles offered at school had a rather comforting and cuddly vibe to them. We simply used to drench them in custard, close our eyes and imagine it was one made by our mums. They serve a purpose. And that's the thing about crumble I think, they are the pudding equivalent to chicken soup. Or the edible alternative to a hug.

Now I know I've said it's not really possible to make a bad one, but of course...in reality it is. And what's more, and more importantly, it is very much possible to make an incredibly good one, and without much effort at all. This is a recipe for a deliciously fudgy and, if you ask me, perfect crumble topping. Being a big fan of crumble myself, I've experimented a lot (a lot a lot) and this is my go-to crumble topping.

Crumbles require minimal effort and very little skills in the kitchen, yet are hugely satisfying to make. The very best kind of cooking. Master a fantastic crumble recipe and you can have it up your sleeve for those occasions when someone asks you to knock something together at the last minute. 

What's even better is that a good crumble topping is made of ingredients you really are bound to have in the cupboard and the fridge so you don't even have to dash to the supermarket when that crumble urge comes a-calling or visitors turn up unannounced.

Here's the recipe for a deliciously-gingery rhubarb crumble, but the same principles would apply to any kind of crumble you like. Think apple, winter berries, apple and strawberry, pear....the list goes on.

And as for the custard, well, to be honest, if you've never made custard you're not going to believe how easy it is to make. But truly it is so simple. I think it's one of those things that chefs and experienced cooks would have you believe is very technical but in all honestly I know you will be able to make it even if you've never been in a kitchen before or seen a wooden spoon. You won't believe you've been buying it for all these years!


Serves 4

For the crumble topping:

200g plain flour 

140g soft brown sugar (or caster sugar would do just as well)

70g flaked almonds plus 50g for the top

200g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes 

20g oats

tiny pinch of sea salt

For the rhubarb:

750g rhubarb chopped into 5cm chunks

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

zest and juice of 1/2 lemon

2 tsp of grated fresh ginger

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (try not to use essence as it tastes very fake)

For the custard:

240ml (1 cup) milk - go whole (full fat)

2 tbsp cornflour 

75g (1/3 cup) caster sugar

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 200C / 400F / GAS 6

Place the chopped rhubarb in a large pie dish and add the light brown sugar, lemon, ginger and vanilla. Give it a good stir.

For the crumble topping simply put the flour, salt, sugar and 70g flaked almonds into a food processor and give them a few pulses to combine them and break the almonds down a bit but not completely.

Add the butter and blitz again but only briefly. You want clumps rather than breadcrumbs and we aren't looking for anything perfect. If it's all looking a bit breadcrumb like, add a few more cubes of butter.

Tip onto the rhubarb and gently spread out over the fruit, without pressing down. Scatter over the remaining 50g flaked almonds and the 20g coats - allowing them to fall as they please.

Bake in the hot oven for 35 -  40 minutes until bubbling and golden.

I always like to let mine cool down a little before serving with the custard but I will leave that up to you. Delicious.

To make the custard:

Pour the milk into a saucepan and heat gently until just before it boils. Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together the eggs, the sugar, the vanilla and the cornflour. Once the milk is really hot, slowly add it to the bowl whisking constantly. This does require some coordination, it is sometimes helpful to pop a tea towel under the bowl to steady it. After you've added all the milk, pour the whole lot back into the saucepan and keep whisking it until it thickens. This will only take a minute or so. Pour into a jug and leave to cool.

(If you overheat it, it has a tendency to go grainy, don't panic. Just remove it from the heat, pop into bowl or jug and whisk until it goes smooth again. Panic over.)