Savoury Apple and Lemon Thyme Crumble


This hearty, warm dish is best known as a desert, consisting of stewed fruits like apple, blackberry, peach, rhubarb, gooseberry, and plum, which is topped with a crumbly mixture of butter, flour, and sugar. It’s best served with custard, cream or ice cream on a cold and rainy winter’s day.

The Crumble gained popularity in Britain during World War II. Due to strict food and supplies rationing, housewives started to substitute the flour, butter and sugar topping with bread crumbs. This quickly became a much more affordable option for making pies and so, the savoury crumble started to make a regular appearance on dinner tables, using vegetables instead of fruit with small pieces of meat (as a treat for special occasions) and gravy. Apart from being cost-effective the humble crumble was also popular due to its simplicity.

In memory of those war-torn days and the fact that Britain faces stringent austerity measures, here’s a personal take on the savoury crumble.


10 X Large Granny Smith Apples (or any other variety) – unpeeled and diced into large cubes
3 X Large spoons full of Garam Masala
50 grams of cubed butter
2 X hands full of fresh Lemon Thyme – finely chopped
1 X teaspoon Cayenne pepper
25ml Olive Oil
Salt to taste
250 grams of strong mature Cheddar Cheese or hard Goats Cheese


Switch your oven on to 180 degrees Celsius.

Put the apple cubes and butter in a saucepan and heat on a high temperature on your gas top. Stir well until the butter is melted.

Add the Gram Masala, Cayenne pepper and Lemon Thyme. Keep stirring.

Turn the heat down to simmer and add the olive oil and salt. Simmer for 15 minutes and stir intermittently.

Crumble Topping

While your filling is simmering, get cracking on the crumble topping:

10-15 X Bread Slices – chose a high quality bread and don’t remove the crusts
1 X Large spoon ground Nutmeg
60 grams Parmesan cheese

I use a small kitchen coffee grinder to make my bread crumbs. Dice the bread slices into small cubes and grind away.

Add the Nutmeg and Parmesan cheese to the crumbs and mix thoroughly.

Scoop your apple filling into a baking dish and lay it out evenly. Add the Cheddar or Goats cheese cubes and cover with the crumbs.

Pop your crumble in the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the topping is golden brown.

Serve with a succulent roast chicken (always organic!) and gravy. Consider a South African Nederburg Shiraz-Pinotage to accompany your meal. This medium-bodied red wine with its luscious tones of berries and black pepper is a perfect complement to round off this rustic take on the traditional Sunday Roast.

Indulge a little bit!

Image: FR Lubbe, Little Red Shoes
Recipe: FR Lubbe, Little Red Shoes


5 thoughts on “Savoury Apple and Lemon Thyme Crumble

  1. I had this one at your house a while ago and it was delicious and decided to make it for a few of my guests this past weekend. Feedback: One of them remarked ‘He should write his own cookbook.’ Thanks.


  2. Just what I needed. Since it’s quickly getting a lot colder here in Canada, I think this could be a special treat for the coming winter.


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