Ruby-red plum and amaretti crumble

Along with a lot of not traditionally Italian baking, the good old English crumble has seemed to be gaining popularity – even modishness – in Italy. By all means, use other-coloured plums – or indeed any other fruit you feel like – but be prepared to modify lemon and sugar content accordingly.


  • 100g/3½oz amaretti biscuits (crunchy, not morbidi)
  • 30g/1oz unsalted butter
  • 1kg/2lb 4oz red plums, quartered if large, halved if small, stones removed
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • ½ lemon, zest and juice

For the crumble topping

  • 150g/5½oz plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 100g/3½oz cold unsalted butter, cut into small dice
  • 3 tbsp sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5 and slip in a baking sheet at the same time. Put the amaretti into a freezer bag and bash with a rolling pin or similar, until reduced to coarse crumbs, then decant them into a bowl.

  2. Melt the two tablespoons of butter in a large pan (that has a lid), add the prepared plums, sprinkle in the two tablespoons of sugar, add the lemon zest and juice and shake the pan over the heat, cooking for two minutes without a lid and two further minutes with the lid on. These timings are based on having plums that are ripe: if the fruit is disappointingly unyielding, be prepared to cook for longer with the lid on, checking frequently. You may need to add the juice of the remaining half lemon – and more sugar – if cooking for much longer.

  3. Pour the plums (with care – they’re hot) into a 23x6cm/9x3in deep ovenproof pie dish and set to one side. Already the red skins will have made a gorgeous garnet gravy. Sprinkle in two tablespoons of your amaretti crumble.

  4. To make the crumble the easy way, put the flour and baking powder into the bowl of a freestanding mixer, shake to mix, then add the small cold butter cubes and beat, not too fast, with the flat paddle until you have a mixture rather like large-flaked oatmeal. Or you can do this by hand, just by rubbing the butter into the flour with your fingers.

  5. Add the sugar and mix with a fork, then tip in the rest of the amaretti crumbs and use a fork to mix again. Pour the mixture over the waiting fruit in its pie dish, making sure you cover right to the edges to stop too much leakage: although for me, some of the rich-hued syrup spurting out over the crumble topping is essential.

  6. Place on the baking sheet in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes; you should see some ruby bubbling at the edges, and the top will be scorched gold in places. If you can bear it, let this stand for 10-15 minutes before eating, with ice cream, whipped cream or mascarpone.

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