This recipe will serve as a template for any kind of fruit filling, and you will develop your own preferences, I’m sure, about the fruit/crisp topping ratio as well as the sweetness. I’ve tried to offer a basic recipe that offers a balance, with variations for dairy and gluten free. It’s hard to really muck this up, so listen to your inner foodie.
For a dish that is approximately 9 inch square or 3 qt oval baking dish…
2 lbs fresh fruit
1/2 cup sugar (brown sugar works for apples, plums, peaches; white sugar looks and tastes brighter with rhubarb, berries, cherries, peaches. If you like, you can substitute honey, too – go with your gut)
1 tbsp cornstarch (optional but it especially helps with fruits that release a lot of juice)
with stone fruit only, add juice of 1/2 lemon
1-1/2 cups rolled oats (not quick oats – they go more gummy and lose their crunch)
1/2 cup flour – gluten free blends work fine, but I find buckwheat is a bit too strong tasting
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp spice (OPTIONAL but highly recommended. I like ginger with rhubarb, pears and peaches, a pinch of cloves and nutmeg with cherries, cinnamon with apples, and mace with plums – but feel free to experiment)
2/3 cup butter, melted or grapeseed oil (or half and half, if you like. I haven’t tried coconut oil yet, but I bet it would work fine.)
1/4 cup chopped nuts (OPTIONAL but very tasty – almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans… they all taste delicious with various fruit)
Get your dish ready by greasing it with non-stick spray or rubbing it with oil or butter. Preheat your oven to 350F and put a rack in the middle.
Chop fruit if needed into large bite size pieces, being sure to remove pits or seeds and stems (the pieces will shrink a bit in cooking so don’t cut too small.)
In a medium bowl, combine sugar and cornstarch. Toss in fruit and mix to combine.
In another medium bowl, combine dry ingredients for topping while butter is melting. Pour butter (or oil) over this mixture and stir to combine. You want to see clumps stuck together, but no dry bits left out. If needed, add a dribble of oil or even water to get the last of the dry ingredients to stick. * This is like mixing pastry – don’t add the liquid too fast or you will have a sticky mess. It takes a minute to be absorbed by the flour and oats.
Place filling in greased baking pan, spreading evenly. Top with topping, making sure it covers the filling. In some cases you may think you don’t have enough, but try this proportion once before adjusting, as some fillings shrink greatly in the cooking time.
Bake for 30-40 minutes, depending on fruit. Filling should be bubbling. If topping is as brown as you like it after 30 minutes but filling is not yet done, just cover dish with tin foil for remaining time.
Let cool for at least 15 minutes (or you’ll burn your tongue, silly foodie!) Serve with your choice of topping – ice cream, whipped cream, custard, yogurt… or even straight up.
And just so you know, this is NOT a crumble. We would have to use only flour for the topping to call it that. And cobbler is made with a biscuit topping and more saucy filling. Those are for another day.