A pear crumble is a dessert, similar to a pear tart or pie, but without a bottom crust. It is also similar to a cobbler, but the topping is not like a dumpling, bread, or cake. It is baked in a baking pan, pie pan or casserole dish and generally consists of a pear mixture covered with a type of topping called crumble, which usually consists of brown sugar, butter, and flour.
Pears for pear crumble are best used when a little under-ripe. Under-ripe pears are firmer and tend to hold their shape better when cooked. Using very ripe or soft pears for a such a dish will result in a mush with little or no texture. Using pears that are a little under ripe also means that sugar must be added, but this is generally assumed by the recipe compiler and is included in the recipe. Depending on the recipe, the pears may be peeled or unpeeled, but are always cored, and usually sliced, although they may be cubed as well. The prepared pears should be lightly coated in a little lemon juice to prevent browning.
The pear mixture for most pear crumbles consists of pears, sugar and spices. Brown or white sugar may be used, depending on the recipe. Either type of sugar may be substituted for the other according to preference. Some cooks prefer the more complex flavors of brown sugar, while others do not care for the darker color imparted to dishes when it is used. Spices similar to those used for apple pie, such as nutmeg and cinnamon, are typical. Flour and butter are also typically added to the mixture so that the mixture will thicken when it is baked.
The crumble topping for a pear crumble can be made in a number of ways, but in its most basic form consists of brown sugar, butter and flour mixed in proportions that result in a fairly dry, granular mixture that is spread over the pear mixture after it is put in to the pan or baking dish. When cooked, these ingredients form a crumbly, crisp and sweet topping typical of crumble desserts.
The two basic elements for a pear crumble, the filling and the topping, can each be modified in a number of ways. Chopped nuts or other fruits, such as apples, cranberries, blackberries or raisins can be added to the filling. Others are possible as well, limited only by the cook's imagination. The crumble topping can be modified by the addition of rolled oats, finely chopped nuts, or graham cracker crumbs, for example.