Pear Crumble with Toasted Hazelnuts
Whether cobnuts or filberts, the nuts in this autumnal pud work a special magic – their roasted nuttiness complements the sweet, mellow pears perfectly. This crumble topping has been perfected over the years and never fails to elicit requests for the recipe. Its ‘secrets’ are fourfold: the aforementioned nuts; the use of self-raising flour rather the more traditional plain for a lighter, crumblier texture; a sprinkling of water to make the mixture more rubbly and less sandy; and soft brown sugar, which brings a delicious toffeed sweetness to contrast the lemon-spiked fruit.
Pears can be hard to catch at the perfect degree of ripeness for eating: one moment they’ll be hard and unyielding, the next a woolly, squidgy mess. Either state works just fine in this recipe, and anything in between, but if your pears are on the crisp side slice them very thinly to ensure they’re softened by the time the topping is browned.
- 50g shelled filberts or cobnuts
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 4 medium pears
- 175g self-raising flour
- A pinch of salt
- 100g fridge-cold unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
- 50g soft brown sugar
- Preheat the oven to 150˚C and butter a 1-litre pie dish.
- Finely chop the nut kernels and scatter them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place in the preheated oven and set a timer for 5 minutes (this is important – it’s all too easy to forget and end up with a tray of burnt nuts). When the timer goes off, check to see if the nuts are golden and aromatic – if very fresh and ‘green’ they may need up to 10 minutes longer, but keep setting the timer for 5 minutes and checking until they are done. When the nuts are golden brown, remove from the oven and tip onto a plate to cool. Turn up the oven to 200˚C.
- Pour the lemon juice into the pie dish. Peel and core the pears, and cut into thin slices. Toss them in the lemon juice and arrange in an even layer over the base of the dish.
- Put the flour, butter and salt in a food processor and whizz to fine breadcrumbs, or rub together by hand. Stir in the brown sugar and toasted nuts. Dribble a very small amount of ice-cold water over the mixture and gently tease together with a fork, to make a loose, rubbly texture. Scatter the rubble over the pears. Stand the pie dish on a baking sheet and bake for 25–30 minutes, until the crumble topping is golden brown and some juice has bubbled up from the pears.
- Serve warm, with cream, Greek yogurt or vanilla ice cream.