Mama Harris's Apple Pie Crumble

Mama Harris's Apple Pie Crumble - Pyne and Smith Clothiers

Mama Harris’s Apple Crumble Recipe

The humble apple crumble (a.k.a apple crisp for my US friends) was a family dinnertime staple at our table when I was growing up. It was something that my mum would throw together quickly on a Sunday if no other dessert was on offer…I always held out hope for an Arctic Roll. If you know, you know.

The origins of the Apple Crumble started during world war 2, when rationing changed everything. Created as a delicious substitute for an Apple Pie (pastry was a rarity, due to the amount of butter it used which far exceeded rations).
My mums recipe is based on using cooking apples, but she will add blackberries too if we had been out blackberry picking. I’ve been using any apples we have on hand, so my version is a mix of apples. Back in the war time era, any available fruit would be used. The classic crumble topping which consists of butter, sugar and flour would have substitutions in the war time era such as breadcrumbs, any available fat, sour milk or oatmeal. Don’t fret, the recipe below is completely sour milk free and just delicious!


  • 10 ounces of Plain flour
  • 6 ounces brown sugar
  • 7 ounces chilled butter
  • 1 lb of apples (usually around 4 apples, a mix of different apples is delicious)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of flour


First up!

You will need a ceramic dish (aka a pudding dish) that you’ll have to lightly grease with butter. Then, pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees.


  1. Peel and core the apples. Chop them into roughly 1” pieces, then cook for 10 mins in saucepan on a medium heat so they soften a little.
    Allow the apples to cool slightly before adding 1 tablespoon of flour, 2 teaspoons of sugar and half a teaspoon of cinnamon and mix well.

  2. Next, it’s time to make the crumble mixture. Rub the butter into the flour and sugar so that it resembles a sandy texture (I find it easier to chop up the butter into small cubes, then mash the butter into the flour with a fork or a pastry cutter). Rub with fingers to get any bigger lumps of butter or sugar broken up.

  3. Pour the apples from the saucepan into the greased pudding dish, then add the crumble mix on top of the apples. Level the crumble mix, then pop the dish into your oven and bake for 40-45 mins. Done!
    It’s good to leave it for at least 30-40 mins before you tuck in, once it comes out of the oven. (honestly, it’s also amazing cold for breakfast the next morning…)

    Serve with either ice cream or cream…. if you want to be authentic to the UK, you’ll need some custard with that Apple Crumble!

For custard, I am lazy and use Birds Eye Custard powder mix, but Mary Berry has a really good custard recipe if you are feeling brave:

← Back