As you may have noticed from the recipes I’ve posted so far, dessert isn’t really my thing. Laid back and creative as I am when it comes to throwing together savory meals, baking just stresses me out. There are just too many ingredients to measure and so many precise steps to carry out just right or else. It’s against my nature to just follow instructions and trust that the cooking gods will deliver something delicious–I need to be able to taste and feel the food I create every step of the way.
With the exception of chocolate chip cookies every few months and an occasional bite sized piece of dark chocolate, I would be content to live a dessert-free life. Give me an extra helping of dinner over a slice of cake any day. My husband T, however, lives for sweets. In his house growing up, delicious baked goods were not only as important as the main course, they were the way his mother showed her affection and pampered the people she loved. For the first few years of our marriage, I was totally oblivious to T’s subtle hints that something important was missing from my cooking repertoire. Or maybe I was afraid of letting myself be vulnerable and trying to make something completely out of my comfort zone.
Eventually, though, I came across a recipe for a fruit crumble in a magazine and was shocked at how forgiving it seemed. Consisting of a simple fruit filling and a free-form topping, crumbles are perfect for non-bakers because they look and taste like a pie, but can be thrown together in a pinch and rely less on baking chemistry and more on balancing flavors. While my first crumble was not particularly memorable, it made T very happy. Over the years, I’ve made many more crumbles, finally perfecting my method so that I can now throw one together in a pinch on a weeknight after dinner (or, once, on a whim while visiting a friend’s farm) with whatever fruit we happen to have on hand. This version was made with peaches and raspberries, but works great with any combination of stone fruits and berries.
Easy Weeknight Rustic Peach Berry Crumble
(Serves 2 to 3)
- 3 large peaches, sliced (or a similar quantity of virtually any semi-firm fruit)
- 1 6-ounce container of berries
- 2 tablespoons sugar (use more or less depending on your preference and the sweetness of the fruit you are using)
- 2 tablespoons flour
- small pinch salt
- 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice or other acid (e.g. balsamic vinegar works great, too, especially if you are using strawberries)
- 3 tablespoons cold vegan butter (and if you’re not vegan, regular butter works too!)
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1/4 cup almonds
- 1/4 cup oats
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Combine filling ingredients in a bowl and stir until well combined. Sample a small bite of fruit and add additional sugar if too bland or tart. Pour mixture into a small, greased baking dish.
- Combine crust ingredients in a small bowl. You can probably do this successfully with a wooden spoon, but I have had the best luck smooshing it all together with my hands. It’s fine to leave some large clumps of butter. Smooth the crust mixture over the fruit in a thick layer.
- Bake uncovered for 30 minutes, and then open oven to check for doneness. If the nuts and oats do not yet appear toasted, cook under the broiler (watching closely to prevent burning) for about 2 minutes, until lightly browned.
- The crumble is ready when the filling is bubbling and gooey and the crust is slightly crisp. Serve warm in a bowl, preferably topped with a scoop of vanilla cashew or coconut ice cream