Everyday Gourmet (7/2/09)

The crumble jumble

July 2, 2009

By Kim Dannies

All cooks have a couple of foods they obsess about. I have an open rendezvous with any decent scalloped potato recipe that comes down the pipe, and I’ll admit that I think more about streusel toppings than I do about the crumbling economy.

European streusel, or “crumble” as we Yanks like to call it, is the love child of a piecrust and a cookie. Quite simply, it is better than either: You get the crunchy satisfaction of a decadent dessert without all of the hidden calories. I have spent the past year or so puzzling out the perfect crumble topping just to be ready for berry season. This recipe works well with almost any combination of fresh fruit: blueberries, blackberries, freshly pitted cherries, strawberries, raspberries, peaches, nectarines and even diced rhubarb. Use a baking dish that is not too deep, with plenty of surface, so the beloved crumble topping can shine. This is a great dessert for Fourth of July festivities — it’s a cinch to make, and your friends will be obsessing about it for days afterward.

Berry Jumble Crumble

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prep 8 to 10 cups of fresh berries and stone fruit and place in a large bowl. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice over fruit, fold gently with a spatula. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of flour over fruit.

Cover a 9-by-12-inch baking dish with non-stick spray and add the fruit. Bake for 20 minutes.

Prepare the crumble topping by peeling the zest off of 1 large lemon and mincing it in the large bowl of a food processor. Add a pinch of salt, 1 cup of flour, 3/4 cup of sugar and pulse to blend. With on/off turns, slowly add 1 stick (4 ounces) of cold butter, which has been cut into smaller cubes, until coarse crumbs form. Add 1 cup of walnuts and 1 cup of oats and pulse on/off for 15 seconds. Add 1 tablespoon of whole milk and do quick pulses until the mixture is clumpy-looking, about 10 to 15 seconds

Top the fruit with the crumble, scattering loosely over the surface. (Do not handle the crumble too much!) Bake for 25 minutes until the topping is a yummy golden and the fruit bubbles out the sides. Since there is no bottom crust, splurge and serve it with a dollop of vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt, and top with a sprig of fresh mint.

Kim Dannies is a graduate of La Varenne Cooking School in France. She lives in Williston with her husband, Jeff; they have three college-aged daughters who come and go. For archived Everyday Gourmet columns go to kimdannies.com.