This plum crumble contains a whole combination of sensations: fruity and spicy, lumpy on the top, crunchy in some parts, chewy in others, soft where it meets the jam fruit underneath… And the plum filling is solidly puckery.
A Vegan Plum Crumble Enhanced by More Nutritious Elements
Each season brings its share of fruits. Late summer calls for corn, peaches, tomatoes…
At the moment, we’re talking about plums. So what to do with them? A plum dessert, of course! So far, plum crumble has received my full attention. I’m more of a salty food kinda girl, but I was very fond of this delicacy.
I’ve now done it three times, and my guests have not been disappointed. The taste of the jammy plums doesn’t seem to displease the palate of the rare people who are crazy about sour flavors.
Honestly, if your dessert isn’t all about whole foods, you can’t say it’s 100% healthy. I won’t lie and tell you this one is. It still contains a lot of added sugar.
On the other hand, I’ll tell you that I strove to make it a little more nutritious. This is because it features whole wheat and almond flour instead of white flour and coconut palm sugar instead of white sugar. Plums make up most of the dish anyway, so we’re not going to feel too bad about swallowing all that sugar.
This dessert is made in no time and is an excellent replica of the original recipe by Marian Burros, cookbook author and food columnist for The New York Times, a position she has held since 1983.
All about Crumbles
A crumble is a hearty dish of British origin, a kind of fruit pie made up of a stewed fruit layer in the bottom of a dish. The fruits are topped with a dough layer, a crumbly mixture of fat, flour, and sugar, hence its name. Indeed, it comes from the verb to crumble. The crumble is baked until the topping is crisp.
Popular fruits used in crumbles include apple, blackberry, peach, rhubarb, gooseberry, and plum. The filling can also include oatmeal, ground almonds, or other nuts.
For storage, let cool to room temperature, lightly place paper towels on top of the topping to absorb condensation. Cover the dish tightly with foil, plastic wrap, or a lid. To reheat, place leftovers in the oven at 350-355 degrees F for 15 minutes. Or, if the microwave doesn’t scare you, you can put the single servings in for 30 to 40 seconds at a time until heated through.
It depends on their ingredients. Usually, crumbles containing cow’s milk and eggs need to be refrigerated. If they don’t include any of them, as in our case, they can be left at room temperature by covering it lightly.
Put the uncooked crumble in a covered dish and store it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before baking or in the freezer for up to three months. If you’re cooking it right out of the freezer, bake it at 355°F (180°C) for 50 minutes or until the crumble topping is golden brown.
What do We Put in this Vegan Plum Crumble?
To make a crumble without eggs, you will simply remove them. And to make a crumble without butter, replace it with non-dairy butter, like Earth’s Balance (not my favorite choice, see below) or Miyoko’s Creamery Cultured Vegan—a Californian product whose flavor, apparently, is mind-blowing. Last week, I frantically searched for distribution points in Canada and found a few… 200 km away from my home 😞. (I’m ordering $ 80 of this stuff in Ottawa to have it delivered to my in-laws there.)
Plums – I chose Italian plums (aka prune plums) over the popular Japanese variety you find in supermarkets. Sometimes also called Empress plums, they are the European-style plums (Prunica domestic). They’re small, dense, and egg-shaped with blue or purple skin, freestone pits (they separate easily from the flesh but be careful, some pieces might hide inside the flesh too), and yellow flesh. These are the ones that are dried into prunes. The dense texture of the Italian plum is full of sweet, rich, and complex flavors.
On the nutritional side, the phenols in plums offer significant antioxidant protection against a particularly dangerous oxygen radical. They help prevent this intruder’s damage to our cell membranes, brain cells, and other molecules made up of fat. The plums’ ability to increase iron absorption in the body has also been documented in published research, possibly related to this fruit’s vitamin C content.
Flour – white flour cooks faster and therefore is widely used for crumbles. But it’s devoid of nutrients. So I opted for whole wheat flour.
An egg replacer Powder – this is optional. The original recipe includes a beaten egg, and I wanted to reproduce the same effect by adding an ingredient like Ener G-Egg Replacer or Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer, mixed with a little water. You can also use cornstarch or potato starch. If you don’t add it, it won’t make much difference to the topping.
Non-dairy butter – some vegan bakers recommend Earth Balance as the flavor is fantastic and it works just as dairy-based butter would. Although it’s plant-based and it doesn’t include hydrogenation, it contains palm oil, which I don’t like. If you can, try to get a palm oil-free one (like as I mentioned above, the one I’m in the process of ordering right now). Margarine also works well. Apparently, plant-based butter works better anyway.
Coconut palm sugar – the original recipe called for white granulated sugar. Instead, I used coconut palm sugar, a direct substitute. Its dark brown color and caramel, nutty and earthy flavor have a taste impact, but it compliments the plums.
This granulated, unrefined sweetener is considered “healthier” than white sugar. It’s also considered to be “a little healthier” than cane sugar because the conversion process retains more nutrients, including a fiber called inulin, which slows sugar absorption into the bloodstream.
This allows for a lower glycemic index compared to some other sugars. The calorie content is the same as that of granulated sugar, i.e., about 4 calories per gram.
Brown sugar – I used Muscovado sugar to give a deeper and complex flavor with hints of caramel and a slightly bitter aftertaste. It is artisanal, unrefined cane sugar that contains natural molasses. It has a rich brown color, a chewy texture, and a caramel taste. This contains the same number of calories as regular sugar and provides traces of minerals like magnesium, potassium, calcium, and iron due to its molasses content.
Note: Why are these quotes around healthier or a little healthier? Let’s be clear, NO ADDED SUGAR TYPE is better for your health than another. But if you’re gonna get drugged up on sugar, you might as well do it with a minimum of processing and trace elements.
Cinnamon – it goes really well with plums.
Ginger – that too.
Candied ginger – let’s overdo it. In addition to its affinity, it plays on textures in this jam and adds a bit of chewiness.
Salt – this is to create a little contrast in taste to the sugar.
How to Make Vegan Plum Crumble Step by Step
1 / Cut the plums in half and pit them.
2 / Mix the spices and a little flour with the plums.
3 / Place the plums in a baking dish skin side up.
4 / Mix the ingredients for the topping.
5 / Cover the fruits with the topping.
6 / Bake for 30-35 min.
My Best Tips to Avoid Having a Soft Topping
Thanks to my next tips, you can’t say that your crumble is too wet or soft nor that it’s powdery or isn’t crumbly enough.
Choose the appropriate size baking dish
As with all crumble or cobbler type desserts, everyone wants a bit of crunchy or crumbly topping with every bite of fruit filling. If you use a baking dish that’s too deep, you’re probably going to cook something that looks like a jar of fruit jam with a thin layer of crust on top. Once the topping is removed, you’ll end up with a lot of syrupy fruit at the bottom of the baking dish. For pretty presentations, the right-sized baking dish will ensure a good serving of crispy topping with the fruit filling.
Don’t skimp on the butter (non-dairy, eh)
Butter, which encourages both browning and crispness, is the magical ingredient for the perfect topping.
If you don’t add enough butter, it will be a dry, mealy mass. If you put in too much butter, it will become a mass without a fatty form.
Some recipes will ask you to cut cold butter with your dry ingredients, resulting in pea-sized pieces sprinkled over the hot fruit filling. Other recipes will ask you to melt the butter, starting with a few tablespoons, and pouring it over the dry ingredients for the topping.
If you feel your topping is still too dry and crumbly (even for a crumble), add a little more melted butter, a tablespoon at a time.
Add a je ne sais quoi for texture and taste
There’s nothing wrong with a simple topping of flour, butter, and sugar. But consider adding a few more elements to create a textural contrast with the pudding-like fruit filling.
Add crunchy ingredients, like chopped nuts or healthy oats. For example, the recipe presented here is a crumble with almond flour. Don’t be afraid to incorporate an unexpected but flattering spice or herb to take the taste up a notch, and a light coating of Demerara sugar (real raw sugar) adds a nice caramelized finish.
A similar savory dish can be made with meaty ingredients. In this case, the crumble doesn’t contain sugar.
You can also cook this dish with zucchini in vegan cuisine, something reminiscent of bacon and fake parmesan-style cheese. The dough is then made with mock parmesan, flour, breadcrumbs, a pinch of paprika, and a crushed clove of garlic.
Serve this Plum Crumble with…
The crumble’s craggy, crunchy topping makes a perfect bed for streams of slushy ice or poured heavy cream. So, serve it with a scoop of vegan ice cream or whipped coconut cream.
Make this Plum Crumble without Eggs and Butter Now
As autumn dawns, it’s time to cook with plums. Create an ever so lightly nutritious crumble with a crumbled crust and a spicy plum jam.
You’ll only have to cut the plums in half, mix them with spices, and cover them mainly with flour and sugar. You’ll then pour a stream of melted butter over the topping, which will merge it into a sweet and spicy cookie after baking.
You’ll obtain a topping reminiscent of streusel: formed bunches of dough sprinkled on the plums cut in half and sweet.
By brandishing your spoon and adding a judicious scoop of ice cream or whipped cream for their softening powers, you will pierce the crumbly topping to find soft purple plums below, cooked into a jam, and sweet and sour pulp.
Is your mouth watering yet? Your dessert spoons are waiting.
Marian Burros’ Plum Crumble Recipe (Vegan Version)
Taken and adapted from Luisa Weiss of The Wednesday Chef
Marian Burros’ Plum Crumble (Vegan Version)
- 2 tablespoon brown sugar Muscovado
- 1 ½ tablespoon plus ¾ cup whole wheat flour
- ¼ cup almond flour
- ¼ teaspoon plus ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 tablespoon candied ginger finely chopped
- 10-12 Italian plums, halved and pitted
- ¾ cup coconut palm sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder (optional)
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon Egg substitute plus 2 tablespoons water (optional)
- ½ cup non-dairy butter, melted
- Place plums in a medium bowl. Heat the oven to 375 degrees F, with a rack in the center.
- In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, 1 ½ tablespoon flour, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, ground ginger, and candied ginger. Add to the plums and mix well. Arrange plums skin side up in an ungreased 23 cm (9 inches) deep pie plate.
- In a small bowl, combine coconut palm sugar, baking powder, remaining flour, cinnamon, and salt. Mix well. Optionally stir in the egg substitute with 2 tablespoons of water. Mix without destroying the tiny lumps formed. Sprinkle over the plums.
- Drizzle butter evenly over breadcrumb mixture and cook for 30 to 35 minutes. The crumble is cooked when the top is golden, and the plums give way easily when pricked. Take out of the oven and let cool down.
- Serve the crumble hot or refrigerate for up to two days or freeze, tightly covered. If reheating, bring to room temperature, then reheat to 350 degrees F. If desired, serve with vegan ice cream or coconut whipped cream.
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I’m on a mission to help you eat nutrient-dense, easy, and mouth-watering plant-based meals so you can feel energized, well-equipped, and confident to eat and cook better.