Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Fruit Crisp--A Basic Recipe

Peach-Blueberry Crisp

Fruit crisps (or crumbles if you're British) are very simple, and so delicious.  They're a great way to showcase an abundance of in-season fruit.  You can combine different varieties or pick just one.  You can add different spices to change the flavor, and whatever you do it will always be delicious.  Well, unless you add something crazy like cumin.  Then it probably won't be.  But you never know! 

Here's the basic recipe:

Fruit Crisp -- A Basic Recipe

4 cups fruit, sliced and pitted.  Skinned if it's not a skin you would normally eat.  You can also mix fruits, such as berries and peaches, or pears and apples, or cherries and apricots; just be sure you have 4 cups of fruit total. 
1/4 - 3/4 cup sugar, depending on the tartness of your fruit.  If you're using something really tart, like rhubarb, you should use 3/4 cup.  If you're using something really sweet, like very ripe pears, use 1/4 cup.  For everything else, use 1/2 cup.
1 tsp lemon juice, regardless of the fruit you are using.  It brings out the flavor and preserves the color.
1 Tbs cornstarch, to thicken the mixture. 
1 Tbs butter, because it makes everything taste better.
Spices, a little bit (1/4-1/2 tsp) of something is usually nice.  Cinnamon goes with everything, but try to put other things in as well.  Ginger goes well with apples, pears, apricots, and peaches.  Chinese Five Spice goes with peaches and plums.  Cloves go with plums and oranges.  Nutmeg goes with cherries, apples, pears, or berries.  Cardamom is great with berries.  Try something out and see how it goes. 

Topping Ingredients:
6 T all-purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup oats
6 T butter

Optional items: Chopped nuts, coconut, or other spices.

Preheat your oven to 400-degrees F. You can make either the topping or the filling first, it doesn't really matter.  If you make the topping first, keep it in the fridge until you're ready to use it.  If you make the filling first, keep it in the saucepan until the topping is made.

For the filling: If your fruit isn't very juicy, toss it with the sugar and lemon juice and let it sit until the juices are released (15-30 minutes).  If you're using something like peaches or pears, which are very juicy to begin with, you can skip the macerating (which is a fancy way of saying "Let it sit until the juices are released.").

Next throw the fruit and the rest of the topping ingredients EXCEPT the butter into a saucepan.  Heat it until it boils, then stir and keep it boiling for a minute or two, until it's a bit thicker.  Remove from heat and stir in the butter.

For the topping:  Mix everything but the butter together.  Grate the butter (using the big holes on a cheese grater) into the mixture, then use your hands to evenly distribute it. 

To assemble: Pour the filling into a square 8" or 9" pan, or into a similarly-sized casserole dish.  Alternatively, you can use 4-6 individual ramekins.  Top the filling with the topping.  Bake at 400F for 20 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling and the topping is crispy.  Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.  Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

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