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Less-Than-Perfect-Strawberries Make Great Almond Crumble

If I’d had to choose one thing that cooking could not make better, I’d have put good money on its being a bad (as in unripe and tasteless) strawberry (strawbuggers). I’d be embarrassed even to own up to trying to improve it, were it not for the fact that I read an article by Saint Simon of Hopkinson in which he advised using said strawbuggers in a pie. So I did. Well, that’s not quite true: I am lazier than he is, so I made a crumble. I don’t know what, how or why it happened, but this is a crumble of dreams. The oven doesn’t, as you’d think, turn theberries into a red-tinted mush of slime, but into berry-intense bursts of tender juiciness. This is nothing short of alchemy: you take the vilest, crunchiest supermarket strawberries, top them with an almondy, buttery rubble, bake and turn them on a cold day into the taste of English summer. Naturally, serve with lashings of cream: I regard this is as obligatory not optional.


for the filling:

  • 1 lb strawberries (hulled)
  • ¼ cup superfine sugar
  • ¼ cup almond meal
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract

for the topping:

  • cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 5 tablespoons cold butter (diced)
  • 1 ¼ cups slivered almonds
  • ½ cup turbinado sugar
  • heavy cream (to serve)