Friday, July 30, 2010

Easy Answer for "What to do with summer fruit?"

photo by Anthony Palatta

Sometimes, I just get tired of baking.  You know how it is, all that fussy measuring and sprinkling of flour, standing by the oven door, just praying not to burn any edges of a sensitive cake or delicate cookie.

When I feel that way, and I'm also in the mood for a delectable dessert, I turn to crisps. Some people call them cobblers, but I was brought up on "crisps."

This recipe is less a set of instructions than a method that can be used for any number of fruits, particularly in summer.  It was something I would make before I learned to cook, following a simple set of instructions from my mother, an apple-lover, who is famous for her apple crisps.

Begin by preheating an oven to 375, then peeling and slicing up your favorite fruit.  There happened to be some nice plums at the supermarket when I was there, so I chose 10 of those.  Put the fruit into an 8x 8 glass baking dish (or whatever you have on hand).  Cover the fruit with sugar (I used 4 teaspoons), then sprinkle liberally with cinnamon (about 1-2 teaspoons).

Next, make your topping.  My mom goes for a flour-sugar combo.  For this topping, I did 3/4 cup of flour, 3/4 cup of oats, 3/4 cup white sugar, and 3/4 brown sugar.  Plus a scant sprinkle of cinnamon.  Next I softened-melted half a stick of unsalted butter in the microwave, enough so that some of the butter was liquid, but there were still dots of solid butter left.  I mixed this in with the flour mixture until it looked like wet sand and when I pressed down on it, I had something that looked like a crust.  Pour the crust mixture over the fruit and pat it down evenly across the top.

Bake the crisp for about 30 to 40 minutes.  The fruit should be bubbling and the crust should be brown.  Hot out of the oven, the crisp leaked a small puddle of water from the plums, which I could have avoided by adding cornstarch to the filling or just waiting, because the next day, the leakage had stopped.

I like to serve a piece heated with a dollop of cool vanilla ice cream, which melts over the warm fruit and crispy, sweet topping.  I particularly liked the plum version, which has a sourness that contrasts with the sweetness of the topping.  Other great versions to try are pear (also delicious), peach-blueberry, apple, and of course my own strawberry rhubarb from several weeks back.

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