BAKING pies tarts and crumbles

Crispy Apple Crumble

September 5, 2009

You: So what is this apple thing that you’ve made today?

Me: Umm, apple crumble (or is it crisp?). I think they’re kinda the same thing.

Crispy Apple Crumble

You see, the thing is, I’m not sure what the difference between a Crisp and a Crumble is. With a little help from Google, I’ve come across various explanations – each one having a tone of being the ultimate authority on the subject. And in spite of reading so much, I was left more confused than educated about the difference between the two. So I tweeted.

Apple + crumb topping

The result: There was a consensus about the ingredients involved – that is, a Crumble topping is more buttery and a Crisp has oats and even nuts in it.[The Kitchn has the exact opposite stand though]. But the most straightforward point was that you need to take the names quite literally – a crisp is, well crispy (oats+ nuts) while a crumble is softer, more with the texture of shortbread. On the other hand, Helen highlighted what was playing on my mind: Crisps are American and Crumbles are English. And this to me seems like the safest bet, given that the ingredients used differ from person to person.

So how will I conclude this Crisp vs. Crumble debate? Well, let’s just call this a Crispy Apple Crumble.

Crispy Apple Crumble

Crispy Apple Crumble Recipe

Recipe source: The recipe is loosely based on recipes I’ve seen in Crumbles and Cobblers by Maxine Clark (I bought the book simply because the photographs of the juicy, rich desserts were so alluring). I’ve used them as a base for the recipe with addition of ingredients on a whim and using up my last two apples.
Yield: 2 servings

2 Granny Smith apples, cored and diced
2 tbsp Brown sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon (I much prefer grating a cinnamon stick with a microplane to get the most potent fragrance)
2 tbsp / 30g / 1oz. cold butter, cut into cubes

½ cup oats
½ cup flour
1/4th cup granulated sugar
1/4th cup brown sugar
1/4th cup walnuts, chopped
5 tbsp / 75g / 2.65 oz. cold butter, cut into cubes

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C.
  2. In a bowl, toss together apple, brown sugar and cinnamon, until well coated.
  3. Grease an ovenproof dish with butter and transfer the apples to it. Dot with cold butter. Set aside.
  4. In another bowl mix together the ingredients for the topping. Cut the butter into the mixture with a pastry cutter. Refrigerate this for about 10 minutes if you’ve got the time.
  5. Spread chunks of the topping mixture over the apples and bake for 35-40 minutes until the apples are done.
  6. If the apples are rather juicy, you might have to drain off the excess juices halfway through baking.
  7. Sneak in a few bites while still in the oven, under the pretext of making sure there isn’t too much liquid in there.
  8. Serve the apple crumble with vanilla icecream with caramel sauce or even better, Dulce de Leche.


  • Reply Mixed Drink Recipes September 6, 2009 at 12:20 AM

    Boy this looks delicious. Perfect autumn recipe – thanks for posting!

  • Reply alice September 5, 2009 at 11:30 PM

    Your Crispy Apple Crumble looks so good.. but everything you makes looks great! Glad to have contributed to the Tweetversation!

  • Reply Anushruti September 5, 2009 at 11:56 PM

    Looks great…..thanks for the "crisp" explanation.

  • Reply Ashley September 6, 2009 at 12:21 AM

    A crispy apple crumble is the perfect description for this dessert. Looks fantastic!

  • Reply arjwiz September 6, 2009 at 1:28 AM

    Add a bit of honey or nuts and we're ready to go!!

  • Reply Bulgariana September 6, 2009 at 2:31 AM

    I love any kind of Crisps and Crumbles and crispy Crumbles and yours looks so fantastic!

  • Reply Alexandra September 6, 2009 at 11:20 AM

    Oh my! The best of both worlds, lovingly blended together! I must try it! (it's a sweet way to sneak fruit to an anti-fruit child)

    I too have felt the same about the definition of seemingly similar desserts…it's nice to see that i'm not the only one!

  • Reply The Purple Foodie September 6, 2009 at 12:53 PM

    Arjwiz: Oh yes, honey! How could I forget honey!

    Thanks Ashley, Bulgariana, Alexandra, Anu, Alice and mixed drinks :)

  • Reply Gala September 6, 2009 at 5:13 PM

    looks crispy, yum!

  • Reply Aparna September 6, 2009 at 6:58 PM

    "What's in a name?" as someone asked. If it tastes good, that's mostly enough for me. :)

    I was making cobbler and getting stumped by names like grunts, slumps and sonkers!

  • Reply Simran September 6, 2009 at 8:19 PM

    I get confused by all these names, but the "crisp" is my favorite way too.

  • Reply The Purple Foodie September 7, 2009 at 12:06 AM

    Slumps and slonkers are new to me, Aparna. Have to look those up.

  • Reply Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction September 7, 2009 at 12:36 AM

    Regardless of what you call it, it looks fantastic! I wouldn't mind a bowl of that with some vanilla ice cream right now! :)

  • Reply katklaw777 September 7, 2009 at 2:33 AM

    OK, I understand everything in the recipe except the 75g of butter. Why 2tbls in the first half, then 75g in the topping which is the part of the recipe I need the most cause I am making this with some ripe juicy peaches. Help!!! how much butter in tbls? Thanks…………

  • Reply oneofagrind September 7, 2009 at 6:54 AM

    I've always wanted to know the difference between the two but was too lazy to do it :P lucky for me, now I don't have to!
    nice post!

  • Reply The Purple Foodie September 7, 2009 at 11:35 AM

    Katlaw77: Like I mentioned, I made this on a whim and that's why the different measures. I've updated the recipe for your convenience. Cheers!

  • Reply Parita September 7, 2009 at 3:41 PM

    Looks fantastic, regardless of whatever you call it, i think it would taste awesome and isnt that what matters in the end?

  • Reply nandini September 8, 2009 at 4:03 PM

    a crispy crumble… looks so inviting!!!

  • Reply diva@The Sugar Bar September 8, 2009 at 4:34 PM

    beautiful!! this is perfectly golden brown.
    and yay to being able to post comments again :) x

  • Reply stephchows September 9, 2009 at 2:08 AM

    he he too funny! And now I know the difference! And I think I'll actually remember based on your explanation :)

  • Reply Jamie September 10, 2009 at 1:45 PM

    And then there is the Brown Betty!!!

    Either way, this is one of our favorite Autumn desserts and yours looks so scrumptious! Now I am craving this.

  • Reply pigpigscorner September 10, 2009 at 5:54 PM

    A slice for me pls! Love the sound of it…

  • Reply Ingrid September 10, 2009 at 11:15 PM

    Honestly? I don't care what you call it so long as you give me a spoon and pass me the dish. Besides the crumble/crisp topping that looks phenomenal your apples don't look all soggy and mushy!

  • Reply Helene September 11, 2009 at 8:49 AM

    It make senses. I never knew the difference. That looks so yummy.

  • Reply Sam@BingeNYC September 12, 2009 at 10:22 PM

    Crisp or crumble, how cares, it looks absolutely DELICIOUS! I'm totally starving now. ha.

  • Reply Deeba PAB September 12, 2009 at 9:27 PM

    Crisps and crumble…call it what you like. I LOVE IT!! Totally delicious!!

  • Reply Peabody September 13, 2009 at 12:34 PM

    I will take some of that please! Yum.

  • Reply Barbara September 13, 2009 at 5:45 PM

    I love it. Always have loved it. I can sit and pick away at those toppings forever!

  • Reply Dana September 13, 2009 at 8:50 PM

    How about just calling it delicious? This is such a perfect fall dessert. As much as I love apples, the topping is where it's at for me.

  • Reply The Purple Foodie September 14, 2009 at 9:51 PM

    Thank ya' all!

  • Reply cortney December 4, 2009 at 12:29 AM

    This is amazing, I am totally making it for Christmas. What do you guys think, vanilla ice cream on the side?

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  • Reply Elsa Ringdal October 19, 2010 at 8:43 PM

    I made this yesterday, and it was AMAZING!! =) It was so good, that I ate the WHOLE thing….Didn’t have vanilla ice cream, but I bought some today for the next batch, which will be a double batch tonight!! This time I have company, so I’ll share….. ;)

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  • Reply shar7 January 22, 2011 at 8:44 AM

    Looks So Good! And Easy Too! Thanks for Explaining the difference between Crisp & Crumble, I learned Something :)

  • Reply Rachel March 7, 2011 at 9:34 AM

    I made this tonight in individual ramekins and everyone loved it. I actually make it all the time, and everyone always loves it! I also double the topping recipe and use it as the topping to my apple pie. It’s so good! Thanks so much for the recipe! I’ve probably used it like, 30 times! Haha. Thanks again.

    • Reply The Purple Foodie March 8, 2011 at 1:45 PM

      WOW you’re like the apple crumble pro!!

      • Reply Marie M.C. June 15, 2011 at 9:30 PM

        All your food looks divine. What size container did you use? Could you give me ounce or cup size? How many people would this serve? OK to double? I made an Apple Crisp recently and although everyone liked it I thought the topping was too crisply. This looks like a good compromise. I want to make this for Sunday June 19th — which is Father’s Day here in America. Do you have Father’s Day in India?

  • Reply Cutting Kahlua March 19, 2011 at 8:56 PM

    Hi, is this dish like Apple Strudel Stack? That is my Mother’s fav dessert, and I was wondering if it was similar to the Apple Crumble above. Thanks!

    • Reply The Purple Foodie April 2, 2011 at 5:20 PM

      Hi, Strudel is mady of a delicate flaky pastry. This one’s more robust and crumbly. But I’m sure your mom will like this crunchy variation as well. :)

  • Reply My Pantry Basics March 25, 2011 at 10:39 PM

    […] not having light or dark brown sugar hasn’t been a deal breaker. I deeply miss brown sugar in my apple crumble […]

  • Reply Janice October 8, 2011 at 7:22 AM

    I loved the way this looks!!! Had some apples and got right to it tonight using your recipe….we’ll see how it came out…will post pics on my blog! Apple crisp is the perrrrrrrrfect companion for the cool of autumn.

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  • Reply Sheetal January 31, 2012 at 7:39 AM

    Omg… This is a super duper hit at my place… Served hot with cold ice cream… Yummmm
    Thx for sharing!

  • Reply Beene November 27, 2012 at 8:27 PM

    It was great…everyone loved it but it’s my son who makes it all the time. Thanks

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