Saturday, November 15, 2008

Easy Berry Crumble

This is my go-to dessert whenever I am short on time or have unexpected guests. I nearly always have all of the ingredients at the ready. I make a big batch of the crumble topping ahead of time and keep it in the freezer. With this done, the prep time is nearly zero!

This topping is adapted from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook by Marion Cunningham. I have used the doubled quantities since I always make a double batch and freeze it. If you really wanted to, I'm sure you could sneak some flax seed in this recipe!

1/2 lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 c. brown sugar
1 1/2 c. flour (whole wheat pastry flour is fine)
1 1/2 c. rolled oats (anything but instant--you could also use other flakes or a multi-grain blend)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 c. chopped walnuts (optional)

I adapted this for the food processor, but you could do it all by hand
  1. Cut the butter into 1 inch chunks and place in the food processor with the S blade
  2. Add the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt
  3. Pulse until the mixture is combined and looks like coarse bread crumbs
  4. Remove mixture from food processor into a large bowl
  5. Add the oats and walnuts and mix with your hands until they are well incorporated (I don't like to use the food processor for the walnuts and oats because you the texture becomes too uniform that way)
  6. Set aside 1-3 cups topping if making crumble right away and freeze the rest in a Ziplock bag or container
I generally have bags of mixed frozen berries in the house, though this year I tried to do it myself by buying big quantities of organic berries from the farmers' market and tray freezing them. Any blend of berries you like should be pleasing.

2 lb frozen berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, huckleberries--cherries are also nice)
Juice of 1 orange or 1/2 c. orange juice (optional)
1/4-1/2 c. sugar or to taste (we use evaporated cane juice)
1 tsp cinnamon or 1/2 cinnamon stick (to be removed later)
Pinch salt
1 TBSP corn starch mixed with 1 TBSP cold water
1-3 c. crumble topping depending on size of your dish and love of crumble topping--if you're using frozen topping, don't bother to defrost it first, you may just need to adjust the baking time

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Put frozen berries, orange juice, sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. If not using orange juice, you probably want to put a splash of water in the saucepan to help the sugar dissolve
  3. Heat until the sugar is dissolved and mixture is hot but not boiling
  4. Add the cornstarch/water mixture while stirring and then bring to a boil
  5. Boil for one minute or until the sauce is thicker and glossy
  6. Pour berry mixture into a ceramic, glass or metal baking dish. 2 lb of berries would fit in a 9 x 13 inch pan, but it would be quite a thin layer. I think an 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 inch pan would make the nicest berry-to-topping ratio
  7. Cover the berry mixture with crumble topping. I admit, we like to heap it on!
  8. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes or until crumble topping is golden brown
  9. Remove from oven and let rest for at least 10 minutes. This is important to let the sauce thicken for easier spoonability and so that you and your guests don't burn your mouths!
  10. Serve in bowls with pouring cream or ice cream or just on its own. Cold crumble also makes a wonderful breakfast!

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