Food Network Magazine (September 2010)
The weather's cooling off, swimsuit season has passed and fall fruit is coming in at the market. To us, that means it's times to make crumbles -- our go-to fall and winter dessert.
For several years, we've been making impromptu crumbles using whatever fruit we have on hand, topping it with with a mix of flour, sugar and butter (and sometimes oatmeal), and then baking it until it's nice and bubbly. The results are always good, though not always great. Our crumble topping sometimes doesn't firm up, and it often lacks a satifying "crunch." Dinner guests, though, never seem to complain.
So we were thrilled to see a "Mix-and-Match Crumbles" feature in this month's Food Network Magazine. Similar to the "Make Your Own" feature from Fine Cooking that we love so much (see entries on short ribs and ice cream), Food Network Mag offers a guide to creating your own crumble out of whatever nuts, grains and fruit you prefer.
We took this recipe as an opportunity to clean out our fridge and pantry, and set off to make a Peach and Plum Crumble.
The basics of building your own crumble are very simple.
First, pre-heat your oven.
Next, choose a nut and chop it. We selected walnuts, not because we love them, but because we had a bunch of them on hand. Almonds, pistachios, pecans and hazelnuts will also work.
Then choose a grain, either rolled oats or cornmeal. We chose rolled oats, because we had just purchased some for another recipe. Mix the grain with brown sugar and salt, and then mix in the nuts. Combine the mixture with softened butter.
Prepare a fruit filling. We peeled our peaches, sliced our plums, and then tossed them with sugar and flour.
Then you simply place the filling in a baking dish or ramekins, top it with the fruit filling and bake.
So now, confession time. See our lovely crumble up there? All that great texture and sweetness running down the side of the dish?
Well, it tasted terrible and it was all our fault.
In a rush of cooking and in a half-hearted attempt to not use so much sugar, we seriously shorted the amount of sugar we mixed with our fruit. The recipe recommends 1/2 cup. We used more like a tablespoon. The result, given that our fruit wasn't very sweet on its own, was that our filling was sour. Like, really sour. Like, "Wow! This is so sour we can't eat it!"
The topping, on the other hand, was perfect. Where our impromptu crumbles sometimes lack a good topping, this one had an amazing crunch, serving as the perfect contrast to the (would-be) sweet filling.
So use the guide below to make your own Mix-and-Match Crumbles. Just don't short yourself on the sugar.
And if you make your own crumble, let us know what combinations you used!
- Step 1: Prep Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 2-quart shallow baking dish or eight 6-ounce ramekins.
- Step 2: Pick a nut. Chop 3/4 cup of any of these nuts, shelled: walnuts, almonds, pistachios, pecans, hazelnuts.
- Step 3: Choose a grain. Put 1/2 cup rolled oats or cornmeal in a bowl. Add 3/4 cup flour, 1/2 cup light brown sugar and a pinch of salt and whisk.
- Step 4: Mix the crumble. Add the nuts to the bowl. Work in 7 tablespoons softened butter with your fingers until evenly moistened; set aside.
- Step 5: Make a Filling.
Apple-Raspberry: Peel 3 pounds baking apples (such as Macoun or Cortland); cut into 3/4-inch chunks. Toss with 2 cups raspberries, 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, 1 teaspoon vanilla and a pinch each of nutmeg, cinnamon and salt.
Plum-Nectarine-Blackberry: Halve and pit 4 nectarines and 2 plums (no need to peel); slice 1/2 inch thick. Toss with 2 cups blackberries, 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon flour.
Pear-Pineapple: Peel 3 pounds baking pears (such as Bartlett); cut into 3/4-inch chunks. Combine with 3 cups pineapple chunks, 2/3 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and cinnamon in a skillet; cover and cook over medium heat, stirring, 12 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons flour; cook 1 more minute.
Blueberry: Toss 4 cups blueberries, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon flour and 1 teaspoon lemon juice in a bowl. (If you are using ramekins, double the blueberry filling.)
Quince-Grape Peel: 3 pounds quinces; cut into 1-inch chunks. Toss with 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/3 cup water and a pinch of salt in a skillet; cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in 1 pound seedless red grapes and 1 tablespoon flour.
- Step 6: Bake Transfer the filling to the prepared dish or ramekins and dot with 2 tablespoons cut-up cold butter. Squeeze handfuls of the crumble mixture and scatter on top of the fruit. Bake until golden and bubbly, 40 to 45 minutes. Let sit 10 minutes before serving. Top with whipped cream or ice cream, if desired.