Star baker’s gluten-free crumble

editorial image

First catching the public’s attention on the Great British Bake Off, Howard Middleton has won the affection of Sheffield as the city’s star baker.

Often remembered as the victim of the infamous ‘custardgate’ incident, Howard now demonstrates his creative approach to baking at numerous food festivals and shows and his first book on gluten-free baking was published last year.

This recipe for a spiced plum and cherry crumble features in the Sheffield Cookbook: Second Helpings.

“This gluten-free pudding is inspired by my mum’s classic recipe, but I’ve spiced it up to celebrate Sheffield’s newer culinary influences”, said Howard.

“Rice flour makes a great crumble but the absence of gluten can leave your topping a bit too crumbly! A little egg white solves the problem, keeping it all together and leaving it perfectly crisp.

“I like my fruit filling slightly on the tart side, but add a little sugar, honey or maple syrup if you prefer.”

This recipe needs 30 minutes preparation time, 25-35 minutes of cooking and it will serve four people.


100g rice flour (or other gluten-free flour like tapioca or coconut)

60g cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

40g demerara sugar, plus extra for sprinkling

30g gluten-free porridge oats

40g roasted chopped hazelnuts

½ tsp Chinese five spice powder

1 egg white


500g plums, halved and stones removed (quarter them if they are very large)

200g cherries, stoned

2 tsp vanilla bean paste


For the crumble topping, Preheat the oven to 180°c/160°c fan/gas 4.

To make the crumble, put the rice flour in a mixing bowl and rub in the butter until you have a crumb-like mix – a few lumps are actually good.

Stir in the sugar, oats, hazelnuts and Chinese five spice powder.

Whisk the egg white for a few seconds – just to loosen it up slightly – then stir this into the dry ingredients.

To make the filling, put the plums into another bowl, add the cherries and stir in the vanilla bean paste to coat the fruit.

To assemble, divide the fruit between four individual ovenproof tins or dishes, top with the crumble mixture (sprinkle on some more Demerara sugar if you like) and bake for 25 minutes until they are crisp and golden on top and the fruit is just beginning to bubble through.

If you prefer to make one big crumble, just increase the baking time to about 35 minutes.

Serve with one of Sheffield’s wonderful locally produced ice creams ... or with custard.

The Sheffield Cookbook is available from Waterstones, Amazon and the venues featured in it.

For more gluten-free recipes and ideas visit Howard Middleton site.