Which way do you crumble? (Quince, apple and armagnac prune crumble)


You do do crumbles yes?  It's the easiest baked dessert in the world – manageable even by those who doth protest too much about not being a baker (hi Rachael!) and there's not a mix or a store-bought dough in sight.  You make everything yourself so you know exactly where each ingredient comes from, no funky stuff you can't pronounce or spell. 

All you have to learn is a simple crumble topping – super simple, if you can stir you can make it.  You can use that crumble topping to top pretty much any combination of fruit.  In the summer you can use plums or peaches, and in the fall you can try quince, pears, apples, or other fall fruits.  I also like to add some dried fruits into my fall crumble, apricots, prunes, or even ordinary raisins.  And these get even better if you soak them a bit in armagnac, rum, or brandy of your choice.

So, which way do you want to crumble?  This time I'm using poached quince I made a little bit ago from Gene's quince, and mixing them with some apples and Armagnac prunes I always have in the cupboard. 

Quince, apple, and armagnac prune crumble

First you make the crumble topping


170g salted butter (6oz or 1 1/2 sticks)
225g brown sugar (8oz, or about lightly packed 1 cup)
225g all purpose flour (8oz, 2 cups)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
a pinch of clove
1/4 tsp salt (add this if using unsalted butter)


Melt the butter in a small pot.  Mix all the dried ingredients together in a glass bowl.  When the butter is melted, pour it over the dried ingredients and toss with a fork or a wooden spoon.  You will see balls of crumb developing, that's what you want, don't toss until everything is so well mixed it turns to sand.  Just toss gently to keep the large crumbs.  Cover the bowl with plastic and keep in the fridge until ready.  You can do this a day ahead of time.

Then you mix your fruits
There are not many rules here.  The basic idea is to toss some seasonal fruits – peeled and sliced if needed – with some sugar, a bit of flour and a few squeezes of lemon juice.  I always add a pinch of salt – not to make it salty, but just enough to brightens other flavors and help activate some pectin in the fruit to thicken it.  If you're using dried fruits as well, it would be a good idea to soften them a bit before adding to the mix.  You can just soak them in a bit of warm water, or better yet, a scrumptious liquor of your choice.  Here I use my armagnac prunes.  For about 9" pie or tart plate, I would use about 6 cups of mixed fruits (cut into large wedges.)

For my quince, apple, and armagnac prune crumble, I use..

about 4 large quinces
     poaching liquid: 3 cups-500g-sugar and 1.5 cups-about 250g-water
4 regular size apples (granny smith, idared, or other good cooking apples)
about 10 prunes soaked in armagnac (pitted and cut into large pieces)
juice from 1 lemon
about 1/2 cup of brown sugar (more of less, up to you.)
1 tablespoon flour
a pinch of salt


I usually have already poached quinces in the fridge, but if you don't, you can start by poaching them.  Peel the quinces and cut each one into 8 wedges.  Cut out the core and seeds.  Poach the quince slices in a mixture of 3 cups sugar to 1.5 cups water for about 20 minutes or until translucent and cooked through.  Stab a piece with a sharp knife, if it goes through effortlessly, it's done.  Remove the quince slices from the poaching liquid and put in a large bowl.  Keep the poaching liquid for other use, like making caramels or just mixing with sparkling water to make your own quince soda.

Peel the apples, cut into eight wedges, and core and seed them.  Squeeze the lemon over the apples and mix them with the quince slices, armagnac prunes, sugar, flour, and salt.  Toss well to mix.

Pour the fruit mixture into a pie or tart plate.  At this point you can cover up the plate with plastic and keep in the fridge for a few hours until you're ready to bake.


When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350F (175C).  Crumble the crumb topping evenly over the fruit.  Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the crumbs are golden brown.  Some of the juice from the fruits will bubble over and might caramelize a bit – there's nothing wrong with that at all.


Serve by itself or with a good helping of vanilla icecream or whipped cream.  Sneak a shot or two of armagnac into the cream before you whip, it'll be even better!

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18 Responses to “Which way do you crumble? (Quince, apple and armagnac prune crumble)

  • Eleonora said:
    November 10th, 2008 at 12:46pm

    Your blog is super. So are your photographies. They make me hungry. I have spent a nice moment when seeing them. Thanks a lot.

  • casey said:
    November 10th, 2008 at 12:50pm

    OMG how delicious that looks. And I am also in the camp of Armagnac-improves-many-a-dish.

  • Katie said:
    November 10th, 2008 at 1:10pm

    Miam Miam…bienvenue les coings!

  • Simbelmyne said:
    November 10th, 2008 at 1:31pm

    Oh, Noes, I just lost my excuse not to bake!

  • Lisl said:
    November 10th, 2008 at 1:57pm

    Looks delicious! Perfect for the season (we’re rolling in apples right now, although quince is not something I use often). I like to add rolled oats and sometimes chopped walnuts to the crumble mixture myself to give more crunch.

  • Yin said:
    November 10th, 2008 at 2:22pm

    mmm … crumble – food of the gods. Apple and blackberry is a favourite, although I do have some rhubarb in the freezer so rhubarb and ginger crumble may be on the cards shortly.

  • Dana McCauley said:
    November 10th, 2008 at 6:03pm

    Not only does the crumble look great, but I love your spoon!

  • Hazel said:
    November 11th, 2008 at 1:49am

    Of course, here in the UK, nobody would dream of serving a crumble with anything other than proper custard…
    1 pint milk
    1 tablespoon vanilla sugar
    1 egg, beaten
    About a heaped teaspoon of cornflour, mixed to a smooth paste with a couple of tablespoons of the milk
    Whisk all ingredients together over a low heat until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon…

  • Priya said:
    November 11th, 2008 at 8:16am

    hmm this sounds tasty but how about serving with little fresh whipped cream.. ! yummy 🙂

  • Priya said:
    November 11th, 2008 at 8:17am

    hmm this sounds tasty but how about serving with little fresh whipped cream.. ! yummy 🙂

  • Priya said:
    November 11th, 2008 at 8:17am

    hmm this sounds tasty but how about serving with little fresh whipped cream.. ! yummy 🙂

  • Snoopylloyd said:
    November 11th, 2008 at 11:22am

    I’ll have to try it. I am a huge foodie! I have been following your blog for a while and love to see what you’re going to cook up next.

  • Deborah F said:
    November 11th, 2008 at 3:54pm

    I just received the gift of a quince plant for my garden. I’m saving this recipe for next year when I can use my own fruit!!

  • marcos said:
    November 11th, 2008 at 4:50pm

    Great job, I love to mix some oatmeal in the crumble too…

  • Andrea said:
    November 12th, 2008 at 10:52pm

    You are so right!
    Will have to try it with some poached fruits.
    Thanks for the reminder of this classic.

  • Andrea said:
    November 12th, 2008 at 10:54pm

    You are so right!
    Will have to try it with some poached fruits.
    Thanks for the reminder of this classic.

  • ruth said:
    December 21st, 2008 at 7:48pm

    wow that’s amazing.Im very excited that i found your website because i saw you on PBS. I thought it was so unique that you go around and look for new and interesting recipes.

  • Tiffany Pendant said:
    February 8th, 2010 at 10:21pm

    Well!!! I thought I always made the best chicken soup until now. I followed your recipe to a T except I did add a qt of Wolfgang Pucks chicken stock (sorry – I just can’t break away from the stuff) I loved the touch of curry but I believe the secret to your recipe is the bones! Never have I ever extracted so much flavor in my soup. I’m a believer. I also agree about the fat. I only skimmed the foam but left the fat – something I’ve been always told to do but NO MORE! This soup has so much flavor I believe it is better than restaurant quality. Thank you so much for posting it. Now I’m gearing up to make your awesome Pad Thai now that I have all the ingredients bought.

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