Story and Recipe: Apricot Berry Crumble
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Right from Greg!
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.
What 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.
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 or 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1 lemon, finely zested
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- 1 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
- 1 1/2 cup 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 cold unsalted butter, (1 1/4 sticks) cut into tablespoon-size pieces
Prepare Pans and Oven
- 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.
- 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 kernel mixture off metal blade over the apricots and combine well with your fingers.
- Scatter the raspberries and blueberries over the apricots, and drizzle with the lemon juice.
Prepare the Crumble
- Reinsert the metal blade into the processor work bowl.
- Add the flour, salt, cinnamon, oats, and remaining 3/4 cup sugar 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.
- Hand Method: 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.
- Bake 50 to 60 minutes, until the topping is crisp and browned and the fruit is bubbly and cooked through.
- Cool the crumble on a wire rack, and serve warm or at room temperature.