Ever since I’ve fallen in love with dessert – and I’m a late arrival to that party – I’ve been unable to pass up the dessert menu at restaurants. Good for the soul – bad for the hips. Give me chocolate ganache or give me death. Nowadays, I always have room for dessert. Truthfully, I miss my non-sweet-tooth days. I had such will-power then!
However, years before I succumbed to the dessert curse, I had fallen in love with messy, baked fruit-filled dessert. I had my first crumble in college and went on a mission to make as many different kinds as I could, combining various fruit together, using one topping or another to perfect that fruit-to-crunch ratio. I have more crumble recipes stuffed in my baking binder (wherever it’s hiding) than I have mashed potato recipes (and believe me I have quite a few of those!). For some reason, I have all but stopped making them in the last few years. Could be that living alone wasn’t conducive to cooking a large dessert that was meant to be shared with a crowd.
But since the summer descended upon us with its sweltering temperatures, dampening my love of a hot stove, I’ve been on a crumble craze. As in I’ve made four in the last four weeks. In my book – four crumbles in four weeks is a lot. But, people, I can’t stop. What’s not to love? Large chunks of berries, apricots, plums, apples with minimal thickener, topped with crunchy, crumbly, buttery topping that is oh-so-sinfully-good! A few years ago, Nigella Lawson, contributed a crumble recipe to New York Times. I did my clipping, but then forgot about the recipe and didn’t remember having it until Deb wrote about it and I think I drooled a little on my keyboard. Fetching, I know.
I decided upon making a strawberry apricot crumble because both were in abundance at my market and I hear magical bells when I see the word “SALE” next to produce. Making the crumble was so easy, I paused to review the instructions to make sure I wasn’t messing it up. I wasn’t. Then I baked it. And checked up on it while it bubbled and hissed. And then, then – was the hardest part. Waiting. Waiting for it to cool down. And waiting some more. And then waiting more. I swear, it was interminable and I salivated and sighed.
But. When the wait was over and I piled a messy mound of berries and topping in my bowl, it was heavenly, sublime. I actually closed my eyes, delirious in my crumble ecstasy. After that first initial crumble experience, I had to have my weekly fix. KS, who unlike me does not have a sweet tooth, also likes them and proactively asks me to make them. So really, as far as I can foresee, I’ll be making a few of these this summer with various combinations of whatever I can find in season and whatever strikes my fancy at the time. Expect to see more crumbles here this summer. And maybe a pie or two here and there. Fruit filled. Chunky. Summer sweet. Thanks to Eve and her apple, sin is synonymous with sweetness.
Apricot Strawberry Crumble
adapted from Nigella Lawson
1 1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons brown sugar or Sugar in the Raw, or demerara sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 ½ cups apricots, chopped into 1 inch chunks
1 quart strawberries washed, hulled, quartered
Juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugars, vanilla, salt and lemon zest. Mix everything thoroughly. Add the melted butter. Mix until small and large clumps form. Set aside or refrigerate until needed.
3. In another bowl combine apricots, strawberries, lemon juice, sugar, flour, vanilla and pinch of salt. Place the mixture in a 9×9 pyrex baking dish.
4. Cover the fruit with topping – you want the topping to be evenly distributed.
5. Bake the crumble for about 40-50 minutes – you want the topping to be golden brown just like in the picture above – you also want to see some bubbling of berries underneath.
Note: It helps with oven clean-up if underneath your glass baking dish you put a nice, flat cookie sheet or something. Your fruit might drip and spill over. Mine didn’t, but I’ve had pie messes before and I don’t know about you, but I don’t like cleaning them up. This rather simple precaution is a huge time-saver, if you ask me.