Legendary Dishes | Apfel, Rhabarber und Ingwer Streusel (apple-rhubarb crumble)

Ginger nuts – an essential ingredient in the modern fruit crumble

Fruit crumble is associated with Britain and Ireland, with Scandinavia, especially Sweden, with the Flemish regions of Belgium and the Netherlands, and with Germany.

Apple, apricot, plum, rhubarb and strawberry crumbles are the most popular, and some crumbles include a variation of fruit. Rhubarb arrived in Europe from Asia around the same time that spices were being liberally used in monastic kitchens, which tended to include garden fruits as well as herbs and vegetables in their larders.

The combination of butter, flour, nuts, spices and sugar known as streusel in Germany generally included cinnamon, one of the spices heavily traded by the Venetians of the 1200s when rhubarb appeared. Mixing ground cinnamon and ground ginger into the crumble or streusel certainly caught on in the countries where these spices were commonplace.

The marriage of crystallised root ginger with rhubarb may have Moorish origins, the recipe making its way north when ginger nuts in syrup became widely available, bearing in mind that this is both an African and Asian delicacy.


220 g white wheat baking flour
100 g brown sugar
100 g butter
15 g walnuts, crushed
10 g ground ginger
5 g ground cinnamon


1 kg forced garden rhubarb, trimmed, cut into 3 cm pieces
500 g sour apples, cored, cubed large
10 ginger nuts in syrup, diced small
75 g brown sugar
1 orange, juice
5 rosemary spears, chopped small

In a large bowl combine all the filling ingredients, leave for 24 hours stirring occasionally. Rub butter into flour, stir in nuts, spices and sugar. Preheat oven to 190°C. Spoon fruit mixture into a baking dish, cover with crumble. Bake for 60 minutes.