Thursday, October 18, 2007

Flourless Streusel Crumble Topping with No Refined Sugar

It took me a while to find a gluten-free crumble topping that doesn't use oats and has a texture and appearance that I like. I guess I'm picky about my crumbles. When I finally got this recipe right, I was pleased as punch. Now I can actually convince myself that pie is health food! This crumble topping is especially for those of us who choose to avoid refined sugar, which is the backbone of the crumble toppings usually used on top of fruit crisps, pies and some bar cookies. I created this crumble topping as a healthier, whole grain alternative, free of cane sugar and full of crumbly texture and sweet, nutty flavor. I hope it will help somebody out there transform some plain old fruit or a topless pie (ha!) into something truly worthy of oohs and aahs.

Though certified gluten-free oats are now available, they are hard to find in local stores and are very expensive. There are also celiacs who cannot digest even these certified oats. So some of us still have the need for a gluten-free crumble topping that is made with alternative ingredients. This recipe relies on the versatility of pecans and the oat-like texture and outstanding nutritional profile of Ancient Harvest Quinoa Flakes for its texture. I buy quinoa flakes locally for around $3 per package. I hear there are other companies besides Ancient Harvest that make quinoa flakes, but this is the only brand I've found in stores here and I'm quite happy with it as a baking ingredient and a hot cereal for chilly mornings.

I have tried this recipe with both honey and agave nectar, and honey creates a much better crumb and holds the sweetness better when the crumble is baked. However, if you need to make this strictly vegan, agave nectar will certainly do the job.

Feel free to use butter (as if you needed my permission!) I've called for non-hydrogenated margarine only because I often like to make my pies pareve so that I can eat them at both meat and dairy meals. I would definitely choose butter if I didn't need this versatility, because butter makes everything better. My good buddy L of A Question Mark taught me that. Using butter would also make this recipe soy-free.

I have a tupperware of leftover crumble in my refrigerator after using it to top a pie I made the other day. I can't wait to go to the farmer's market to buy whatever's in season to transform into a delicious fruit crisp.


[ Gluten-Free / Dairy-Free / Pareve / Vegan ]

1 cup pecans
3 Tbsp non-hydrogenated vegetable margarine (such as Earth Balance), softened slightly
3/4 cup quinoa flakes
3 to 4 Tbsp honey or agave nectar
Pinch of salt

In a food processor with blade attachment, process pecans until they are in nearly uniform small chunks (see picture below). If you have a plastic blade or mixer attachment, attach it and add the rest of the ingredients. If you only have a metal blade, pulse ingredients as slowly and minimally as possible. Process only until ingredients are well combined and form a uniform, crumbly mixture. Use your fingers to crumble it into small pieces over the top of a pie, fruit crisp, muffins, or other baked good. Place dish into a preheated oven at 400 F. Bake until the crumble topping is browned but not burnt (watch carefully to make sure the top doesn't char), approximately 20 minutes.

Here's what the pecans should look like before you add the other ingredients:


Kalyn said...

Very interesting. I can eat gluten, but I'm trying to avoid the sugar. This sounds great, bookmarking the recipe now!

the veggie paparazzo said...

I think I have quinoa flakes in my pantry--interesting recipe. . . . I'll have to try this the next time I want a crumble!

~M said...

So do you bake the crisp topping and then rebake it with the fruit mixture underneath (how long)?

Cindy said...

This looks delicious, what a great use for quinoa flakes! I'll definitely try this when I get a chance... both of your pies look mighty tempting!

ByTheBay said...

M: No, you don't bake it until you put it on top of the pie or fruit or what-have-you. Like any other crumble, it doesn't need to be pre-cooked. In fact if anything you might want to add it after the fruit begins cooking, since it browns pretty quickly.

Jess said...

ooh, can't wiat to try this, it looks soooo good!
Also, I love that it is oat free - I'm still not sure how I feel about them yet ;)

Karen said...

That looks beautiful! I love apple crisp, and haven't been able to come up with anything close. I'll definitely have to give this a try.

Recovering Sociopath said...

This looks great! I'm throwing a party this weekend and was looking for an alternative to the standard flourless chocolate cake I usually serve for my friends with wheat allergies. This will perfect.

Anonymous said...

looks so tasty! you didn't mention what is on the bottom of the pie..??

Rachey Simons said...

looks so tasty! you didn't mention what is on the bottom of the pie..??