Here’s a simple and flexible winter dessert that can be thrown together quickly using ingredients you probably have on hand. It goes great with custard or ice cream.

It’s an old family favourite. This recipe comes from my great grandmother, Nana Retter. Both Gran and my mother made it throughout my childhood.

I was nearly 40 by the time I dug it out of an old cookbook and gave it a try. I didn’t recognise it until I went to serve it up, but the memories flooded back as I pulled the first spoonful out. It’s become a bit of a staple here on the farm in the time since because it’s so simple and comforting.

The thing I love about this recipe – and that always strikes me when I make it – is how frugal it is. White sugar, all-purpose flour, an egg, baking powder, milk, and butter. All in very reasonable amounts. Assuming you can spare the egg, it’s perfect for 2023.

You can choose pretty much any fruit you have on hand. Anything you might consider for a crumble will also work for this – apples, peaches, plums, feijoas, berries, persimmons, pears, rhubarb. It’s very flexible.

Maybe you picked up some cheap fruit at an orchard, or are facing some kind of glut from your own garden. Perhaps you have something in the freezer. If all else fails, a can of fruit will do the job.

I enjoy elevating it a little by playing with spices, essences, or zest. I add cinnamon and ginger when using pears, and vanilla for peaches. It’s optional, but one place you can take it from simple to impressive.

This recipe serves 2-4 people. Double it and use a bigger baking dish if you have more mouths to feed.


1 cup or 1 can fruit
¼ cup white sugar
1 egg
½ cup all-purpose flour
¾ tsp baking powder
¼ cup milk
30g butter



  1. Pre-heat oven to 170ºC.
  2. Place fruit into a saucepan and bring it to the boil (add a little water if you are using fresh or frozen fruit).
  3. Drain and sweeten fruit to taste. Place into a 15 x 20cm ovenproof dish and put into the oven to keep warm.
    It is important the fruit is very hot when you put the batter on top.
  4. In a bowl, beat the sugar and egg together until thick.
  5. Fold flour and baking powder into the egg mixture.
    You can add a teaspoon of a complementary spice, essence, or zest at this stage. Think ginger and pear; cinnamon and apple; lemon and strawberry; or vanilla and raspberry.
  6. Place milk and butter into saucepan and bring to the boil.
  7. Beat hot milk mixture into the other ingredients. It will be a thick batter consistency.
  8. Remove fruit from oven. Pour batter over hot fruit and place back into oven.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve with ice cream or custard.