Plum, Hazelnut and Sloe Gin Crumble

Autumn is well and truly here and with that comes the time for crumble.      This recipe sees deep jewelled magenta plums spiked with sloe gin,  bubbling through a golden knobbly, textured crumble that is laced with toasted oats and hazelnuts

I know everyone thinks of crumble as an easy, ordinary dish but I think with the few extra tweaks here it becomes something amazing.    Sloe gin and hazelnuts are a marriage made in heaven.   The two types of sugar really add to the depth and texture of the crumble and the toasty flavour you get from the oats and demerara sprinkled on top are worth it for the smell alone   I add, perhaps surprisingly, a few leaves of fresh thyme to the crumble mix which just work in a way you just can’t place  This recipe really is the embodiment of the “mellow fruitfulness” in Keats’ ode To Autumn

My plum trees here are newly planted so I will have to wait a few years before I can pick my own.  Luckily for me my lovely friend Catherine gave me bags of plums for the freezer so anytime I want to make this I can.   I can’t thank her enough – it’s like having a treasure trove!  If you don’t have either your own tree or a Catherine to look after you,  obviously you can make this using halved, stoned fresh plums

If you don’t have Sloe gin or indeed don’t want to use any alcohol you could use water or cranberry juice.  The cornflour only very lightly thickens the plum juices but again if you don’t want to use it then don’t


Ingredients (serves 6)

For the fruit base

  • 1kg halved plums or damsons (I used frozen and defrosted)
  • 3tbsp soft brown sugar or honey (sweeten to taste)
  • 1tbsp cornflour
  • 100 ml Sloe Gin

For the crumble topping

  • 100g hazelnuts (with or without skins)
  • 100g plain flour
  • 75g porridge oats (plus 2tbsp to sprinkle)
  • 125g cold butter
  • 50g soft brown sugar
  • 50g demera sugar (plus 2tbsp to sprinkle)
  • Thyme leaves from 3-4 sprigs



  1. Heat oven to 180c/160 fan.  Put plums in ovenproof serving dish and sprinkle on sugar and cornflour. Stir so evenly dispersed and add Sloe Gin
  2. Cover dish with foil and bake for 30mins until plums are cooked and juices are lightly thickened but bubbly
  3. Blitz 50g of hazelnuts in food processor until powder.  Tip in flour and sugar and pulse until starting to form breadcrumbs.
  4. Add oats, remaining hazelnuts and thyme leaves and pulse again until mixture is combined but knobbly
  5. Pour over the cooked plums and scatter over the reserved oats and demerara
  6. Put back in oven for another 30 mins until golden and crispy and some of the juices have bubbled through
  7. Allow crumble to sit for at least 5 mins (or allow to cool to room temp and warm through in low 100c oven whilst eating main course) and serve with cream/icecream/custard.


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