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How to Make a Really Good Fruit Crumble

How to Transform Virtually Any Fruit Into a Killer Crumble

When fruit is as flavorful, ripe, and juicy as it is this time of year, dessert doesn't need to be complicated. A pie is a solid, traditional choice, but today we're going with something even simpler (and just as good): crumble. The great thing about crumbles is that they can be made with virtually any fruit (or combination thereof). Let whatever catches your eye at the market serve as inspiration, keeping in mind that you'll want about one and a half to two pounds of fruit to work with.

From there, let this basic recipe serve as a template, tweaking the filling's sweetener and acidic component to your taste and whim. (Citrus zest, grated fresh ginger, and finely chopped herbs like rosemary and thyme are also fun ingredients to play around with.) Here are a few combination ideas to get the creative juices flowing (from top to bottom, as photographed):

  • Strawberry rhubarb: 1 pound rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces; 1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved, larger strawberries quartered; 1/2 cup granulated sugar; the zest of 1 orange, plus 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice; and a pinch of salt.
  • Blackberry nectarine thyme: 1 1/2 pounds nectarines, pitted and sliced; 1/2 pound blackberries; 1/3 cup brown sugar; zest of 1 lime, plus the juice of 1/2 a lime; 1/4-1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped; and a pinch of salt.
  • Cherry mixed berry: 2 pounds total of blackberries, pitted and halved cherries, blueberries, and halved strawberries; 1/3 cup granulated sugar; zest of 1 lemon, plus the juice of 1/2 lemon; and a pinch of salt.

Also note that the crumble topping is a loose template. Spices like cinnamon, ground ginger, cardamom, or black pepper add warmth. Nuts add dimension and crunch and can be used in addition to or in place of some of the oats. The one constant: don't skimp on the butter or salt!

Served warm from the oven with unsweetened whipped cream, ice cream, or creme fraiche, it's one of Summer's greatest pleasures. (We also love to eat leftovers for breakfast topped with a generous amount of full-fat Greek yogurt.)

Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Fruit Crumble

Adapted from Modern Mediterranean: Easy, Flavorful Home Cooking by Melia Marden

Notes

Chopped toasted nuts like walnuts, pecans, or almonds can be substituted for half or all of the oats for a nuttier crumble.

How to Make a Really Good Fruit Crumble

Ingredients

  1. About 2 pounds fruit, prepped and cut into similar-sized pieces
    1/3-1/2 cup sweetener (granulated or brown sugar, honey, maple syrup)
    Zest from 1 lemon, lime, or orange, optional
    Juice from 1/2-1 lemon, lime, or orange
    Kosher salt
    3/4 cup (3 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
    1/2 cup (4 ounces) dark brown sugar
    1/2 cup (2 ounces) rolled oats
    1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, cardamom, or ginger, optional
    8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cubed and chilled

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Add the fruit, sweetener, citrus zest and juice, and a large pinch of salt to a large mixing bowl. Toss gently to coat. Adjust sugar and citrus juice to taste.
  3. Transfer the mixture to an 8-inch square baking dish.
  4. In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, rolled oats, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and spice (if using). Add the butter, and rub the mixture together with your fingers until the butter is incorporated and the mixture has a crumbly texture.
  5. Sprinkle the topping over the filling. Place the baking dish on a baking sheet (in case the filling bubbles over) and bake until the topping is dark golden brown and the fruit is bubbling, about 1 hour.
  6. Serve warm with whipped cream, ice cream, full-fat Greek yogurt, or creme fraiche.
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Nicole Perry
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