When it comes to crumbles, I believe that British chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall sums it up best in saying that a crumble is “not to seduce the eye so much as to have rural rumpy-pumpy with your tastebuds”. However much I agree with Hugh, I can’t help but think that if you place a crumble in a smaller, daintier cup and “pimp it up” with some almonds, cinnamon and luscious cherries, then you can have something that is both pleasing to the eye and delicious. This is exactly what we’ve done with today’s recipe and because there is no intricate pastry work, this elegant vegan cherry cobbler is also very easy to make – perfect for a special occasion! The trick with a crumble is to make sure that the topping mix is moist enough that it clumps together before it goes into the oven so that you end up with a nice crispy top. If there is not enough moisture (oil and maple syrup), you will end up with something like a granola on top of some fruit, which is nowhere near as impressive.
At this time of the year in Greece, there are so many ripe varieties of fruit that you are truly spoilt for choice, but I have chosen cherries for this recipe as I have always loved cherries. When I was a child, my gran would get them by the bucket loads from a lady who had a cherry orchard. She would make delicious jams out of them, but there was always loads left for me and my brother to snack on. We could never get enough of them until one year when every single cherry had a big, fat wriggling maggot in it and I did not notice anything until I ate loads. As you can imagine this has put me off cherries for a while despite my gran’s assurances that it was simply bad luck. A few years later, I’ve managed to push that unpleasant experience to the back of my mind, although I always stay vigilant. Cherries make a nice crumble as they keep some of their shape and texture when cooked. They also go rather well with a bit of Amaretto, which makes this crumble a tad more adult and indulgent. If you don’t like cherries, however, feel free to substitute them for any other summer fruit, like blackberries, peaches, rhubarb, gooseberries or plums. You just need to make sure you stew them gently before putting into a crumble dish.
- Preheat the oven to 180º C / 350º F.
- Put pitted cherries and Amaretto into a small saucepan. If you want, add a splash of maple syrup too, but I found the cherries sweet enough on their own. Simmer cherries gently on a low heat until they soften and release juices. Once they release juice, add cornflour (to thicken the syrup slightly) to the pot and mix it around well. Simmer for a few more minutes for the cornflour to take effect.
- In a small bowl mix oats, buckwheat flour, cinnamon and sliced almonds. Add maple syrup and coconut oil and work it into the oat mixture with your fingers. The mixture should be slightly wet, if it is too crumbly add a touch more coconut oil, or if it’s too wet, add a bit more oats and buckwheat flour.
- Divide stewed cherries between two individual ramekins and top each with half of the oat mixture. Bake it in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until the top has browned a bit and become crunchy.