Marian Burros' Plum Crumble

By Sarah Jampel
September 19, 2017
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Author Notes: Slightly adapted from Luisa Weiss of The Wednesday Chef.

Burros' crumble is shallow and top-heavy: a jammy layer of tart plums blanketed by a lumpy crust that my boyfriend aptly compared to a giant snickerdoodle cookie, warm with cinnamon. The plums are simply halved, pitted, and tossed with spices and a little flour and sugar. The dough is streusel-like—flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and a beaten egg—just pinched apart and scattered over the fruit.

Its glorious cookie-cake texture comes from the final step: Before the pan goes into the oven, you'll pour melted butter all over the top. The butter binds clumps of dough together, so that they form a craggy crust that's got fluff and crisp, lightness and density. Gosh, if I had to choose between Burros' crumble—fruity and spicy, squishy and crispy—and her famous plum torte... I just might choose the crumble.
Sarah Jampel

Serves: 6

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons plus 1 cup unbleached flour, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 10 to 12 Italian prune plums, halved and pitted
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean powder or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extra (optional)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, well beaten
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  1. Heat the oven to 375° F.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar, 1 1/2 tablespoons of flour, 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon, and the ground ginger. Add the plum halves and gently toss to combine. Arrange, cut side up, in a 9-inch pie plate set on a baking sheet (to catch leaks!).
  3. In another small bowl, combine the granulated sugar, baking powder, remaining 1 cup flour, remaining 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, the vanilla bean powder (if using), and the salt. Stir in the egg and the vanilla extract (if using). Use your hands to squeeze and mix thoroughly to form soft clumps and bits. Scatter pinches of the dough evenly over the plums.
  4. Pour the butter evenly over the topping and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is browned and the plums tender. Serve warm or at room temperature, with ice cream, crème fraîche, mascarpone, yogurt, or whipped cream.

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