Caramel Apple and Blueberry Swedish Smulpaj (Crumble)


This caramel apple and blueberry Swedish smulpaj has a sweet filling, and a crunchy, buttery crumble topping.


What is smulpaj?

The Swedish language is as simple as its food. Like I’ve mentioned before, there’s no messing about in the kitchen with laborious recipes or fanciful ingredients: their food (and its preparation) is straight to the point. The language is similar, where two words are often pushed together to make another one. Smulpaj is a good example: smul =crumb and paj = pie. 

Despite its name, Swedish smulpaj is not a pie at all (there is no crust). The fruit is added directly to the pie dish, and the topping is sprinkled over, just like our good old crumble. 



What are the ingredients in a Swedish smulpaj?

Classic Swedish smulpaj ingredients are almost identical to crumble. And like our crumble, the ingredients vary a little depending on the particular recipe. For example, white sugar can be swapped out for brown, oats are in or out, and the choice of fruit and flour can vary enormously.

A classic Swedish smulpaj will usually include the following ingredients:

  • butter
  • flour
  • oats
  • sugar

Other additions might include vanilla sugar, cinnamon or a touch of nutmeg. 



What’s the secret to making a good crumble?

As a smulpaj is essentially a crumble, the same advice applies. As with my guide for making great scones, the butter should be straight from the fridge (or even frozen) and the mixing of the ingredients should be quick. Using cold butter will also give your topping a more crumblier texture. I don’t like the rubbing in method (some kind of sensory issues going not there), so use my food processor. However, I do not overwork the mixing, and the crumble does not need to be uniform: a few bigger lumps of butter here and there is fine. 

Another thing is not to scrimp on the crumble. This is not a healthy dish, so make sure you include plenty of the good stuff. Too little will just dissolve straight into the fruit, and we want the crumble to be the star of the show. 

Although cinnamon usually goes into the fruit (especially if it’s apples), don’t forget to include some in the crumble, too. A tiny pinch of nutmeg, or even ginger, will create a cosy, warm, feeling, perfect for autumn.


What fruit can I use in my smulpaj?

From what I’ve seen berries are the most popular version of smulpaj, especially during the summer when blackberries, raspberries and even strawberries make up the filling. Apples are also very popular. The great thing about a smulpaj is that you can add whatever you like. My first thought was to make mine apple, but I also had some blueberries in the fridge. I decided at the last minute to add those, too, and boy, I’m glad I did.


What are the best apples for a crumble?

In my humble opinion, it doesn’t matter too much what apples you use. Granny Smith’s are a popular choice because they are tart and have plenty of flavour. They would be perfect for this recipe because the sweetness of the caramel sauce would balance out the tartness. Honey crunch is another good option. 

My mum used to make apples pies and crumbles with something she called “cooking apples”. It’s likely they were Brambley apples, which are a type of apple that is way too sour to crunch on, so are invariably used for cooking. 

For my caramel apple and blueberry Swedish smulpaj I used Jonagold, but in the past, I have used Pink Lady, too. 



Frequently Asked Questions:


  • How long does a smulpaj (crumble) last?

The great thing about smulpaj (or crumble) is that if you don’t finish it off in one setting, you can store the rest in the fridge for up to five days. When you are ready to eat it, just pop it in the oven (or even a microwave) just to warm it through. I wouldn’t recommend you preparing a crumble in advance, as the juices from the fruit would seep into the mixture, possibly preventing it from crisping up in the oven. However, you could definitely bake a crumble and then freeze it.

  • What is the best kind of sugar to use in a crumble?

Although you can use any kind of sugar, I particularly love brown in my crumbles. This time, I used Demerara because it offers such a deep flavour perfect for the caramel sauce. Its larger crystals also give the topping a nice crunch. In the past, I’ve made a caramel sauce using coconut sugar, and it worked so well. 

  • Can you make the crumble gluten free?

Absolutely! This time around I used spelt flour to make my smul (crumble topping), but you could use any kind of flour. Almond flour, oat flour, gluten free flour, or just plain old regular flour could be used, without altering the recipe measurements.


Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this recipe, why not check out my other Swedish classics?

Caramel Apple and Blueberry Swedish Smulpaj (Crumble)

Servings 6 servings


  • 1 cast iron pan (skillet)


Smul (crumble topping):

  • 90g (¾ cup) flour (see note 2)
  • 30g (⅓ cup) oats
  • 30g (2 tbs) Demerara sugar (see note 1)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 60g (¼ cup) butter (cold or frozen)

Caramel apples:

  • 100g (½ cup) Demerara sugar (see note 1)
  • 60g (¼ cup) butter
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 250g (8 ¾ oz) apples (see note 3) peeled
  • 90g (3 ¼ oz) blueberries (optional)


Smul (crumble topping):

  • Add the flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon and salt to a bowl and quickly whisk together.
  • Add the butter and either using your fingers (the rubbing in method) or a food processor, work the ingredients just until you are left with a crumbly mixture (it doesn't matter if some bigger bits of butter are still visible). Set to one side.

Caramel Apples:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 225℃ / 437℉. Lightly grease a skillet or baking dish (my skillet is 26cm / 10")
  • Peel and chop the apples into fairly small chunks. Set to one side.
  • Add the sugar, butter, and milk to a saucepan and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Cook for a further 1-2 minutes, until the mixture thickens a little.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the cinnamon.
  • Add the apples and return to the heat to cook for about five minutes, just until the apples start to soften.
  • When ready, remove from heat, and gently stir in the blueberries, only until they are fairly evenly distributed (too much mixing with burst the blueberries).
  • Pour into the prepared skilled or dish and evenly sprinkle over the crumble mixture.
  • Bake for 15 minutes until the fruit juices have bubbled up around the edges, and the crumble is nice and golden.
  • Allow to cool for a short while (so it is not burning hot when you eat it), and before serving, top with vanilla ice-cream. Enjoy!


Disclaimer: I have converted grams to cups/ounces/tablespoons using online converters. Although I have no reason to believe they are inaccurate, please be aware that as I have not made the recipe with these measurements, results cannot be totally guaranteed.
  1. You can use any kind of brown sugar (including coconut sugar), white sugar or even granulated sweeteners.
  2. You can use any kind of flour in place of spelt (without any need to amend the specified amount).
  3. Use any kind of apple you like (see the main post for more information).
Caramel Apple and Blueberry Swedish Smulpaj (Crumble)Caramel Apple and Blueberry Swedish Smulpaj (Crumble)Caramel Apple and Blueberry Swedish Smulpaj (Crumble)Caramel Apple and Blueberry Swedish Smulpaj (Crumble)

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