Originally posted on July 26, 2014
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Can you imagine how thrilled I was when Food and Wine magazine voted Apricot Berry Crumble “Best of the Best” shortly after Baking in America was published? Thrilled and surprised, actually, because the dessert is so simple and uncomplicated. So, what exactly is a “crumble?” According to Richard Sax’s Classic Home Desserts, it’s a fruit dessert baked with a topping containing oats, essentially an English version of American “crisps”. What both these types of desserts share is a crumbly topping of flour, sugar, and butter that bakes crisp on top as the underside sinks into the fruit to flavor and thicken it. They go way back in our history.
Many of the earlier cookbooks don’t even have recipes for crisps and crumbles because they were so commonplace and simple. This crumble, while still maintaining the simplicity of its ancestors, is a bit more sophisticated. Fresh apricots, raspberries, and blueberries, flavored with a few kernels of apricot seeds, lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar, bake underneath a generous blanket of buttery flour, oats, sugar, and cinnamon.The sugar I like to use is an organic whole sugar, which is completely unrefined. It is granular, resembling dry yeast, and light brown in color, and has a pleasant background taste of molasses. If you can’t find it, use the same quantities of firmly packed light brown sugar instead.
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Apricots sprinkled with the ground apricot kernels, sugar and lemon zest.
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Apricot mixed with the zest, sugar, and cornstarch.
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Raspberries and blueberries scattered over the apricots and drizzled with lemon juice.
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Making the crumble topping in a food processor. Butter ready to be pulsed in.
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Butter pieces vary in size from fairly small to about 1/3-inch.
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The baked crumble! I know you can’t wait to dig in, but let it cool for at least 30 minutes before serving. This dessert is best when served warm. Plain is fine, but I think it is always better with a little whipped cream, ice cream, or frozen vanilla yogurt. Leftovers are wonderful for breakfast.
Apricot Berry Crumble
2 pounds fresh ripe, firm apricots (14 to16), halved and pitted
8 apricot pits, cracked, kernels removed (or substitute 8 unblanched raw almonds)
1 cup organic whole sugar (see description above) or 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (measured by spooning the flour into a dry measuring cup and leveling with a metal spatula)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup old-fashioned or quick-cooking rolled oats (not instant)
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks), cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower third position and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Have ready a 2 1/2 quart ovenproof baking dish such as a 10 x 2 inch round one or a 13 x 9 x 2 inch rectangular pan. Prepare the apricots and cut each half in half. Place them in the baking dish.
2. Place the apricot kernels (or almonds) and 1/4 cup of the sugar in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process about 30 seconds until the kernels are finely ground. Add the lemon zest and cornstarch and process 5 to 10 seconds longer. Scrape over the apricots and combine well with your fingers. Scatter the raspberries and blueberries over the apricots, and drizzle with the lemon juice.
3. Reinsert the metal blade into the processor work bowl. Add the flour, salt, cinnamon, and oats and process for 10 seconds. Add the cold butter pieces and pulse only until the topping resembles coarse crumbs. You don’t want the butter to be too fine, so stop to check the texture after every 3 or 4 pulses. (If you’d rather, combine the flour, salt, cinnamon, and oats in a bowl, and cut the butter in with a pastry blender). Spread the flour and butter evenly over the fruit, but don’t pack it down. The pan will be quite full.
4. Bake 50 to 60 minutes, until the topping is crisp and browned and the fruit is bubbly and cooked through. Test with the tip of a small sharp knife. Cool the crumble on a wire rack, and serve warm or at room temperature.
Makes 8 to 10 servings.