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Thursday, September 24, 2009

How to make a crispy fruit crumble


I don't know about you, but I think all this talk about baking being a-precise-science-and-all-that is scaring a lot of people away from baking.  I mean, I'm sure baking a ten-layer wedding cake or five hundred tarts may well be precise science.  But baking just a pie or a few cookies, that's hardly more so than making a simple bowl of soup.  

So, if you're one of those people, I have just a recipe for you to try.  Or even if you're not, try it anyway, it's so simple and so good, you'll thank me for it later.  (Hold it with the proposals though boys, I am otherwise occupied.)

This is going to be the easiest dessert you’ll ever make.  Really it will.  It’s basically comprised of two parts, an unusually crisp crumble topping, which comes together in minutes, and a fruit filling, which can be just about any fruit in abundance at the moment.  At my market, stone fruits are just about done.  So I'm sending them off with the last hurrah with the French prune plums - quetsches as they're called over there. 


The crumble topping is quite a bit crispier than your usual crumble, and also quite a bit crumblier than your average crisp.  I'm calling it a "crispy crumble".  It came together because I always thought fruit crisps never had enough of the crispy bits to keep me happy.  I'm all about carb, you see. A pizza, for me, is all about the dough, sushi all about the rice, and pie all about the crust.  So I wanted a heftier crisp topping, but I also wanted to keep the crisp and not just turn it into a regular crumbly crumble.  Hence born this recipe. 

It actually came together pretty quickly.  Starting with my usual crumble recipe, I added oats and nuts and a little more butter just to damn bless myself properly.  You can use rolled oats, spelt flakes, or just about any uncooked cereal flakes or blend you have on hand.  The same goes with the nuts - sliced almonds as I did here, chopped pecans should do well, or walnuts, or just about anything, really.  A little bit of spice, a little bit of flour, and a little bit lot of melted butter and you're in business. 

As for the fruits, you can use whatever stone fruits still hanging about in your market, or when Fall fruits arrive you can do a quince-apple-prune one like I did last year (but use this crispy crumble topping instead.)


For the crispy crumble
(This makes enough to top baking dishes like this, and this. It's easy to scale it up or down to fit your appetite.)

1 1/2 sticks butter (170g)
1 cup all purpose flour 
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup rolled oats, spelt flakes, or whatever blend of uncooked cereal flakes you have on hand
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
a pinch of clove
1/4 tsp salt

In a small pot, melt the butter over medium heat.  In a large bowl, dump the rest of the crispy crumble ingredients and stir to mix.  Pour the melted butter over everything and stir with a fork until the dry ingredients are moistened and form clumps.  Cover with plastic and let rest in the fridge while you prepare the fruits. 

For the fruit filling
Enough fruit to fit your baking dish.  In the large Le Creuset dishes I linked to above you'll probably need about 4-5 pounds of fruit.  Cut up the fruits to big chunks, juice one lemon over them, toss with a little sugar (a little more if the fruit is sour) and a table spoon or two of flour (depending on how wet you think it might be).  That's about it. 

Put the fruit chunks in the baking dish, crumble the topping evenly over them. Place the baking dish on a foil-lined baking sheet to catch the drip or you might need to clean the oven afterwards.  Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350F (175C) for about 50 minutes.  (If you're doing it in a smaller dish you might want to check at 30 minutes or so.)  You should see some of the fruit juices bubbling over and the topping should be golden brown, that's when you're done.  Oh, yes, and your house should smell heavenly too.  That's how you know.


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