rhubarb vanilla macadamia crumble

Well, we are officially halfway through the week, just that bit closer to the weekend, and I know dessert is on your mind. If you are as food-mad as I am, weekends mean one thing and one thing only. Cooking time! Having more time and less pressure than you have on weeknights means that you can get the creative juices flowing and whip up something delicious. If you want to slide into the weekend pretty lazily, or you just can’t be bothered with yeast and rising times and dough and kneading… then this is your weekend project. Your Friday night project – crumble! Crumble is an English tradition, and you can make it Summer or Winter, with whatever fruit you have on hand. I personally love rhubarb for its balance of sweetness and acidity that pairs so well with the crunchy, buttery topping. It also grows like crazy in my mother’s garden in England, so it is thanks to her green fingers that I got to make this for you guys!

I haven’t done much gardening myself, but my mother keeps a pretty productive vegetable garden and grows lots of English country garden type flowers like the ones in this post. Nothing is better than a hand-gathered bunch of them, the colours are so varied along with the textures, and the scent, well that’s just something else when there are sweet peas involved. Let me know if you have any favourite flowers to grow for cutting, I need some ideas for a garden once we finally get our own place!

Here, I used macadamia nuts in the topping for a little extra indulgence. Feel free to swap them out for oats if you have a nut allergy. Just stir them in by hand after you have blended the other topping ingredients in the food processor.

I like to add a hint of vanilla, and sometimes a little citrus zest too, but it’s totally up to you. You should most definitely top this with something creamy and luxurious, be that ice cream, whipped cream, or in true English fashion, custard. Now that we are well into summer, I like a drizzle of ice-cold heavy cream over mine. There’s something about the hot-cold contrast that is just perfect.

I love making English desserts for people here in the US, but it nearly always leads to confusion! In England, we often refer to desserts as pudding. But everyone here looks at me puzzled, expecting me to serve something resembling jello in a cup. There are in fact far more nuances between US English and UK English than I ever thought possible. Especially when it comes to food. Cilantro, coriander. Scallion, spring onion. Eggplant, aubergine. Cookie, biscuit. Biscuit, scone. Flapjack, pancake. The list goes on! Over the next few months I hope to get some good old British recipes up so that my US readers can get a taste of life in the UK. There is one recipe in particular that I’ve got up my sleeve that ALWAYS goes down a treat, and nobody here in the US has ever had it! More on that next week…


  • Serves: 4
  • Cooking time: 40 mins


  • for the filling:
    • 4 cups chopped rhubarb (1 inch cubes)
    • 1/3 cup sugar
    • seeds from half a vanilla pod
  • for the crumble topping:
    • 1/3 cup plain flour
    • 1/3 cup soft brown sugar
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1/3 cup finely chopped macadamia nuts
    • 1/2 stick butter
    • 1/4 cup demerera sugar (see notes)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Add all the topping ingredients to a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles large crumbs.
  2. Combine the sugar and vanilla seeds in a large bowl, and toss the rhubarb to coat well. If desired, add a tablespoon of orange zest at this stage.
  3. Grease the inside of a medium sized baking dish (I like enamelware for this) with butter, then tip the fruit in.
  4. Spoon the crumble topping over the fruit and sprinkle the demerera sugar on top.
  5. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is browned.


You can also switch up the fruit if you don’t have any rhubarb to hand. Apples, plums or blackberries would also be great, but my personal favourite berry for crumble has to be strawberries. Depending on how sweet they are, reduce the sugar by about half. Demerera sugar is widely available in the UK, but here in the US all sugars have different names, very confusing! If you cannot find sugar labelled demerera, go for unrefined, natural or turbinado brown sugar. You just want something with large crystals for a little crunch.

Written on August 23, 2017