Tuesday, July 7, 2009

recipe: tree-candy crumble

Summer = tree-candy. Every time I eat a piece of fresh, seasonal fruit, I'm a little stunned by how completely awesome it is, in non-Ninja Turtle senses of the word that I don't generally utilize. I like fruit best raw & straight, but acknowledge that nearly everything is more rad when a stick of butter is involved. And since I'm the unofficial dessert chef for my friends' movie days, the result of all of the above is that I make a lot of crumbles around this time of year. They're simple & quick to toss together while everyone, for example, perfects a St. Germain cocktail recipe or watches The Amazing Screw-On Head, they're adaptable to any tastes and whims, and they feel fresh and light for being such a comforty food, which makes them perfect on hot summer days.

My hero Deb posted a crumble recipe awhile back (hers was strawberry-rhubarb), and it's far superior to all other crumble recipes I've tried, yielding a perfectly tender, moist, crispy crumb that's just-sweet-enough. You can put any kind of fruits you please under it, but I've had particular success so far with rhubarb-mango and raspberry-blueberry-lime. For best results, use whatever is Nature's current equivalent of Hot-Fresh-Now in your area.

Tree-Candy Crumble
adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Yields 4 to 8 servings depending on deliciosity and whether you're serving boys.

INGREDIENTS

Topping
1 1/3 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
Zest of one lemon (or lime, or 1/2 of an orange)
Pinch of salt (if you like salty baked goods)

3 tbsp. sugar
3 tbsp. brown sugar (or demerara sugar, or turbinado/Sugar in the Raw)
1 stick unsalted butter, melted (aka 1/4 lb. or 4 oz.)

Filling
Juice of 1 lemon (or lime, or 1/2 of an orange)
1/4 to 1/2 c. sugar (to taste & depending on sweetness of fruits... can always sprinkle a bit more on top of crumble if it comes out a bit sour)
3 to 4 tbps cornstarch
Pinch of salt
4 to 6 cups of fruit (depending on depth of baking dish)
[For rhubarb-mango I used 2+ cups of rhubarb, sliced lengthwise and then chopped into 1-inch pieces, and then 2 red mangoes cut into slightly smaller pieces, and 1/4 c. sugar. For raspberry-blueberry I used 1 quart of each berry and 1/3 c. sugar.]

METHOD

Get your oven heating up to 375.

In a deep-dish pie plate/crockery thingy/pan/what-have-you, add all your filling stuffs (fruit, citrus juice, sugar, salt, & cornstarch). Toss to combine -- I feel that hands are the best mixing implements throughout this recipe, unless like some bakers who shall not be named (IT WAS ME OKAY) you nicked your finger while zesting your citrus, in which case tossing cut fruit + citrus juice with your bare hands will hurt like a proverbial mother.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together your dry topping stuffs (flour, baking powder, optional salt, & citrus zest) and then add the sugars and melted butter. Mix (again, hands are the best tools here) until topping is holding together in clumps.

Sprinkle the topping in variable-sized clumps evenly over the fruit filling. Pop in the oven! Go watch half a movie! You'll be looking for the filling to be bubbling up through the crumb in places, and for the crumb to be golden and browning here & there -- 40 to 50 minutes, depending on exactly how much fruit you've got in there and how soft the fruit was to begin with.

Refrigerate any leftovers and dare yourself to not eat them for breakfast.

NOTES

The next time I use rhubarb, I'm going to try macerating it in the sugar for 30 minutes or so before mixing it with the rest of the filling stuffs to help even out the sweet/tart flavors in the final product -- I ended up with sharp pockets of tart on that one, which wasn't BAD but was a little startling.

Combinations I want to try include pear-rhubarb, apricot-cherry, plum-other plum, raspberry-peach, and, later in the year, apple-cranberry. Am also contemplating (maybe in single-serving ramekins?) spreading a layer of lemon curd between the fruit and topping for extra punch.

Poke me if you have any consultationary questions! Am always happy to help.

2 comments:

TheLadysRevenge said...

I need to try this Rhubarb Mango magical sounding thing. I'm adding that to my list of goals for this week (which so far also includes procuring a basket for my bicycle, yay for summer-themed activities!). You may possibly receive messages and/or phone calls concerning said baking adventure.

the grammar monkey said...

Yay! Definitely holla if I can help!