A traditional crumble is sheer bliss, and whenever
my mum makes one I am completely silent as I devour it. The comforting and calming nature of the humble crumble is the inspiration for this tart. That, and the necessary grandeur of a show-stopping dessert at Christmas.  

Ingredients - serves 8

  • 300g sweet shortcrust pastry
  • 1kg pears, peeled, cored and cut into 1cm dice
  • 250g light brown muscovado sugar
  • 150g walnuts, chopped 
  • 1 tbsp brandy
  • 100g marzipan

For the crumble topping

  • 100g plain flour 
  • 75g light brown muscovado sugar 
  • 75g salted butter

Essential equipment

  • 23cm/9-inch loose- bottomed flan tin 


Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/Gas 4.  Roll out the pastry and use it to line the tin, leaving any excess hanging over the edge. Chill in the fridge until needed.

Place the diced pear in a saucepan with the sugar and set over a medium-high heat. Stew for 20 minutes, stirring, until the pears are mushy but intact and the sauce is thick. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Once the pears have cooled, add the walnuts and brandy, and grate the marzipan in. Mix well so that everything is evenly distributed. Using a slotted spoon, pile the filling into the pastry case – let the excess moisture drip away as you don’t want too much liquid in the tart or the base of the pastry will go soggy, but do save the syrup as it is so fab in christmassy cocktails. Bake the tart for 30 minutes. While it is baking, make the topping.

Mix the flour and sugar together in a mixing bowl. Cut the butter into cubes and rub this roughly into the flour, so that there are clumpy bits of crumble. Take the tart out of the oven when 30 minutes are up, sprinkle with the topping, and return to the oven for a further 20 minutes. Allow to cool and set before serving.